The Midwestern state of North Dakota is home to the Great Plains and rugged Badlands. When you book a vacation rental in North Dakota, you’ll enjoy easy and convenient access to exciting outdoor and cultural activities year-round. During Christmastime, the state’s little towns and cities come to life with holiday parades, illuminated storefronts, and festively decorated homes. In North Dakota, visitors and locals can look forward to a traditional Christmas experience, as well as a good old-fashioned cowboy show. Cold temperatures and the likelihood of snowfall adds to the festive cheer. Here are some the best places to visit in North Dakota for a fun-filled Christmas getaway.

1. Garrison

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Source: Flickr/USFWS Mountain-Prairie

Located in the center of the country, Garrison transforms itself from the self-acclaimed Walleye capital of the world to the Christmas capital of North Dakota for the three consecutive weekends, starting with Thanksgiving weekend. Travel back to a different time and place with the Dickens Village Festival — a Victorian family festival in a traditional English setting. Watch a performance of Charles Dickens’ play A Christmas Carol, take a ride aboard the Queen Elizabus — a genuine London double-decker bus — or in a horse-drawn carriage. Experience a grand English High Tea and buy tasty treats from the street food vendors. Other activities include the magical lighted parade, a craft vendor show, and house tours.

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2. Fargo

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To the southeast of the county near the border with Minnesota, Fargo, North Dakota’s largest city, is home to its very own version of the North Pole from the end of November through the day before Christmas Eve. Families head to Santa Village at Rheault Farm where the kids can visit Santa, decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus, enjoy the model train display, and meet the elves. Prior to the opening of the Village, downtown Fargo hosts the Holiday Lights parade with hundreds of brightly lit floats, marching bands, and horse displays. Head out to Edgewood Golf Course for sleigh rides at the Edgewood Golf Course. For a magical treat, book tickets for The Classic Nutcracker performance by the Fargo Moorhead Ballet company at the NDSU Festival Hall. If your vacation lasts until the New Year, don’t miss Zoo Year’s Eve when everyone gets free admission to the Red River Zoo along with free carousel rides and a chance to meet the animals.

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3. West Fargo

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Source: Flickr/USFWS Mountain-Prairie

A few miles to the west of Fargo, the aptly named West Fargo offers its own range of holiday delights with “”We’re in the Christmas Mood” dinner and concert and “Christmas on the Prairie” at Bonanzaville. This 1900’s pioneer village brings together families and visitors to sing carols, design and print a Christmas card on the old-fashioned press, make a gingerbread house. Other activities include baking cookies or making s’mores over a wood-burning stove, taking rides on a horse-drawn wagon, and meeting Santa and his elves at the North Pole.

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4. Bismarck

Christmas rain
Source: Flickr/USFWS Mountain-Prairie

The state capital of Bismarck’s Small Business Saturday at the end of November kicks off the holiday with sales and special deals and promotions all day in downtown Bismarck followed by the Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase 3-day event at the Bismarck Event Center where you can stock up on local-made gifts and specialty foods. While you’re there, check out the seasonal shows at the Belle Mehus Auditorium and make time to hear the Bismarck-Mandan Civic Chorus’ Christmas concert at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit. Kids enjoy a double treat at the Dakota Zoo on selected dates in December when they can have story time with Santa, do a craft, enjoy refreshments as well as having a look at the animals.

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5. Grand Forks

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Over in the northeast of the county, the HollyDazzle Festival of Lights in Grand Forks certainly lives up to its name as lighted floats travel through the streets of downtown to the Town Square where visitors and locals are enjoying ice skating, live music and other fun activities. The evening culminates in a magnificent fireworks display. To make the most of the cultural events on offer, look out for seasonal events at the Empire Arts Center in Demers Avenue.

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6. Minot

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Minot is home to the Countdown to Christmas Bazaar held every year at the North Dakota State Fairground. With more than 100 booths to browse, it’s a great opportunity to pick up some gifts. The Roosevelt Park Zoo runs an annual Christmas at the Zoo event when Santa pays a visit. There are also hay rides and reindeer. The zoo is open all year-round so if you miss Santa, you can still get the chance to visit and see the animals having fun, playing in the snow.

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7. Jamestown

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Holiday celebrations of Jamestown kick off with the Holiday Dazzle Parade where floats festooned with colorful lights, travel through downtown. Join in the carol singing at the Christmas Tree lighting and shop for gifts and last-minute decorations for your vacation rental home at the Christmas Boutique and Craft Show.

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