It’s so exciting to see my hometown transformed into an old-fashioned holiday wonderland during the Gettysburg Christmas Festival each year.
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Picture brick-paved sidewalks, trees strung with lights, wreaths on the light posts and lots of different activities and events. And yes, there will even be chestnuts roasting on an open fire at the Shriver House Museum.
This family-oriented holiday event features vintage Christmas charm and takes place the first weekend in December. Although it’s not the only event happening in Gettysburg in December, it’s certainly one of the most festive and community-oriented.
So if you’re thinking about visiting Gettysburg on December 2, 3, or 4 this year, here’s what you’ll need to know.
What Is There To Do At The Festival?
Of course you’ll want to do some Christmas shopping at the Festival. The streets of downtown Gettysburg are lined with boutique shops and stores where you can find everything from fine gifts and accessories to clothing, antiques, shoes, hats and cigars.
In addition to the stores, there are a number of special events during the Christmas Festival.
Christmas Shopping Opportunities
An INDOOR CHRISTMAS CRAFT SHOW will be held at the Gettysburg Recreation Park, 545 Long Lane, featuring craft vendors, food, desserts, and plenty of holiday fun. (Saturday only 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
There is also a CHRISTMAS MISSION FAIR at the Gettysburg Presbyterian Church at 208 Baltimore Street (Sunday only 4:30 – 7 p.m.). Bring your pennies, nickels and dimes for kids’ games. There will also be gift shopping, a silent auction, entertainment, food, baked goods and crafts for sale.
If you’re looking for a HOMESPUN CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY MARKET then stop by the G.A.R. Hall at 53 E. Middle Street. Sponsored by Historic Gettysburg Adams County, this event will feature hand-crafted holiday gifts and home-baked goods. (Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Need some old-fashioned Christmas decorations? The Gettysburg Garden Club is holding a CHRISTMAS GREENS & GOURMET GIFTS SALE at the Gettysburg Fire Department Community Room, 35 North Stratton Street from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (or until sold out).
Proceeds from this event go toward the Lincoln Square Flower Garden and scholarships for Adams County students.
It’s a two-for-one event at the Adams Arts Council with their GINGERBREAD HOUSE CELEBRATION AND HOLIDAY MARKET.
Located at 125 S. Washington Street, the celebration features a display of locally made gingerbread houses, a bake sale and silent auction of gift baskets, as well as a Holiday Mart where you’ll find handmade, one-of-a-kind gifts for sale by local artists.
Have a Sweet Tooth? Then don’t miss the COOKIE WALK at Gettysburg Foursquare Church, 318 Middle St., where you can buy cookies by the pound on Saturday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. (or until sold out)
Are There Free Events At The Christmas Festival?
Yes, there are MANY free activities at the Gettysburg Christmas Festival! Here is a partial list:
Kids will be able to visit with real live REINDEER at the Gettysburg Heritage Center, 297 Steinwehr Avenue on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. only. Phone pictures are free, or you can get up close for a $10 fee.
Pro Tip: The Heritage Center has a great gift shop and book store. I do a lot of my Christmas shopping there.
One of my favorite things to see in Gettysburg is the CIVIL WAR SANTA. He will be strolling around between the Jennie Wade House and Gettysburg Tour Center located at 548-778 Baltimore Street on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m.
There will be three BOUNCE HOUSES for the kids. You can find theme at the Gettysburg Rec Park (545 Long Lane); at the Gettysburg Heritage Center (297 Steinwehr Avenue); and on Baltimore Street.
Try your hand at riding a MECHANICAL REINDEER at the Heritage Center or a MECHANICAL SNOWBOARD on Lincoln Square.
Children will be able to construct basic wooden toys or decorate ornaments to take home at SANTA’S TOY SHOP. This event will take place at the Children of Gettysburg 1863 Museum, 451 Baltimore Street.
Of course, every child will want to visit Santa! Make sure you visit SANTA’S SHANTY at 14 Lincoln Square on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. or Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If you can’t find time to sit on Santa’s lap and give him your wish list, kids can still drop off their LETTERS TO SANTA at two locations: The Best Western, 301 Steinwehr Avenue; and Artworks, 30 York Street.
Kids can also meet both Santa and Mrs. Claus on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Gettysburg Hotel, 1 Lincoln Square, during an event called FRONT PORCH WITH SANTA. Take photos with the Clauses for free, but $1 donation to United Way appreciated.
For a memory keepsake from the Gettysburg Christmas Festival, you can visit the HOLIDAY PHOTO BOOTH located at the Dobbin House, 89 Steinwehr Avenue. Available Friday 4 to 6 p.m. and Saturday noon to 5 p.m.
Nothing says a homespun Christmas like SUGAR COOKIE DECORATING. This event takes place at the Appalachian Brewing Company, 259 Steinwehr Avenue on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
If you’re in Gettysburg on Saturday, then stop by the Gettysburg Seminary Museum, 111 Seminary Avenue, for COOKIE DECORATING from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can warm up at the fire pit and enjoy some hot cider.
You can also DECORATE ORNAMENTS at the Seminary Museum on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Other Free Activities at the Gettysburg Christmas Festival:
? HUMAN FOOSBALL on Lincoln Square
? SELFIE STATIONS: Strike a pose for an Instagram snap and then tag your pic with #GettysburgChristmas.
? OLD-FASHIONED GAMES along the sidewalks on Baltimore Street and Steinwehr Avenue.
? Be on the lookout for FROSTY THE SNOWMAN, GINGERBREAD THE ELF and SANTA’s REINDEER wandering throughout the town. Try to get a photo with ALL OF THE REINDEER.
? FACEPAINTING with Kayla Bucher on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 102 Baltimore Street.
? CHRISTMAS KIDDIE TRAIN at the Rec Park 545 Long Lane 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
? Meet the SNOW QUEEN and SNOW PRINCESS at the Rec Park on Saturday from 2-4 p.m.
? Drop your name in the WISHING WELLS at the Festival for a chance to win a prize.
? MEET CHARLES DICKENS at Redbud House Kitchenware, 28 Baltimore Street. Friday 4-6 p.m. Saturday 2-6 p.m.
? AND MORE!
Other Events At The Christmas Festival
If you enjoy history and a traditional old-fashioned holiday experience, then don’t miss Five Christmases at the Shriver House. This is a very popular ticketed event where you can tour the historic house and see how Christmas was celebrated in the mid-1860s.
Location: 309 Baltimore Street; Cost $15/Adult; $12/Children 7-12. Book HERE.
HISTORICAL TOUR OF THE Gettysburg Academy House. Join a licensed battlefield guide for a tour of the Gettysburg Academy. Built in 1813, it was used as the first Lutheran Seminary. Coffee and cookies will be provided during the tour. $25. 717-334-0224.
CHRISTMAS SCAVENGER HUNT at Civil War Tails at the Homestead, 785 Baltimore Street. Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday . This is a Christmas themed scavenger hunt throughout the museum that is fun for the whole family. (Adult: $5.50; Child: $4.00; 5 & Under: Free)
If it’s cold outside then stop in at Eighty-Two Cafe, located at 82 Steinwehr Avenue, for a steaming cup of hot chocolate. It’s $5 a cup, but you can create your own from a variety of toppings and goodies!
AND MORE including a Tour of the Eisenhower House. Tickets must be ordered by calling 1-877-874-2478 or online HERE. A Shuttle bus leaves from the Visitors Center at 1195 Baltimore Pike.
Christmas Festival Entertainment List
As you wander around the streets and enjoy the many activities and special events in Gettysburg, you will find a variety of free entertainment as well. From music and comedy, to drama and special Christmas contests, here is a lineup of what you’ll find.
FUN AND PRIZES. Make sure you stop by the Gettysburg Library, 140 Baltimore Street, on Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. to help vote for winners in the HOLIDAY CONTESTS. These include: Ugly Sweater, Frozen T-Shirt, Old St. Knickers, Christmas Cookie Eating, and Best Dressed Kid, Family and Pet.
Other Entertainment includes:
? IRISH FIDDLE MUSIC with Keith Engle Friday from 4-6 p.m. throughout Steinwehr Avenue.
? LIVE DJ at Gettysburg Library, 140 Baltimore St, from 4-8 p.m.
? LAKE HERITAGE PERFORMING ARTS CLUB from 5-7 p.m. at the Adams Arts Council, 125 S. Washington Street, featuring Christmas songs on the violin.
? THE WILLYS on Lincoln Square from 6-8 p.m.
? BRAHMAN NOODLES at Reid’s Winery, 400 Baltimore St., from 7-10 p.m. Blues/Funk.
? CHRISTMAS CHORAL CONCERT at the United Lutheran Seminary Chapel, 61 Seminary Ridge, from 8-9:30 p.m. Christmas choral concert and carol sing.
? DALLASTOWN AREA MIDDLE SCHOOL CHOIR on Lincoln Square from 10-11 a.m.
? IRISH FIDDLE MUSIC with Keith Engle Friday from 10 a.m. to noon throughout Steinwehr Avenue.
? FORT DELAWARE CORNET BAND from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at O’Rorke’s, 44 Steinwher Avenue. Holiday and Civil War era live music.
? ONE-MAN BAND with Mark England from noon to 4 p.m. on Steinwehr Avenue. Vocals, guitar, bass and percussion.
? LIVE DJ at Gettysburg Library, 140 Baltimore St, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
? CHRISTINE & THE JINGLE KING on Lincoln Square from 1-3 p.m. Sing-alongs, fun stories and old holiday favorites.
? A GETTYSBURG BRASS CHRISTMAS The Ben Jones Band at the Gettysburg Heritage Center, 297 Steinwehr Ave. (11 a.m. to 1 p.m) and Dobbin House, 89 Steinewehr (2-4 p.m.)
? THE WILLYS at the Heritage Center, 297 Steinwehr Avenue from 5-7 p.m.
? FAITH NOEL on the Gettysburg Library Steps, 140 Baltimore St., from 5-7 p.m.
? SHRIMP RYAN JIG BAND at Reid’s Winery, 400 Baltimore St., from 5-8 p.m. Appalachian & Irish tunes played on mandolin, fiddle, banjo, guitar, & bass.
? LAKE HERITAGE PERFORMING ARTS CLUB from 10-11 a.m. on Lincoln Square.
? HANOVER SCHOOL OF BALLET from noon to 12:30 p.m. on Lincoln Square.
? OPEN MIC WITH FRANK & BOB from 2-5 p.m. at Reid’s Winery, 400 Baltimore Street. Bring an instrument and showcase your talent! Beginners are always welcome! Acoustic instruments only please.
Plenty To Eat At The Gettysburg Christmas Festival
In addition to the many bars and restaurants that line the streets of Gettysburg, there will be food trucks parked at the Gettysburg Christmas Festival.
✅ BANTAM COFFE ROASTER on Culp Street.
✅ BRICKERS FAMOUS FRENCH FRIES on Baltimore Street.
✅ LUCKY TRUCK on Culp Street (Appetizers, BBQ, Burgers, Wraps, Seafood, Fries)
✅ NEW YORK HALAL GYRO on Baltimore Street (Friday and Sunday); and Seminary Ridge (Saturday)
✅ PINKY’S BBQ on Baltimore Street (Fusing BBQ, Tex-Mex and Baltimore-style Pit Beef).
✅ RAGGED EDGE COFFEE on Lincoln Square
✅ SWEET ROLLERS on Lincoln Square (Cinnamon Rolls, Pretzel Bites, Cookies, Teas & Smoothies).
✅ TOM’S COFFEE TRUCK on Baltimore Street (Coffee, Teas, Frappes, Cocoa, Cider)
✅ UNCLE MOE’S on Baltimore Street (Southern Style Soul Food)
✅ ZIGGY’S DONUTS on Culp Street
FAQ’s About The Gettysburg Christmas Festival
What Is The Gettysburg Christmas Festival?
The Gettysburg Christmas Festival is an annual holiday celebration featuring special activities, entertainment, games and small town charm to help everyone get into the holiday spirit.
Most of the activities are free, but there are a few paid events as well. There are a wide variety of festive holiday things to do, making Gettysburg a great place to visit in December.
When Is The Christmas Festival?
The 2022 Gettysburg Festival will be held the first weekend in December, and begins Friday, December 2 (noon to 8 p.m.) and running Saturday, December 3 (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and Sunday, December 4. (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
It is always held the first weekend in December.
What Is The Weather Like in Gettysburg In December?
The weather is usually fairly chilly in Gettysburg in December, with highs in the 40s and lows in the 20s or 30s. Dress in layers and be sure to wear a scarf, hat and gloves!
Road Closures / Getting Around Gettysburg
Road closures will include Lincoln Square and the two blocks of Baltimore Street nearest the square.
Culp Street, off of Steinwehr Avenue, will also be closed.
Parking And Shuttles During the Christmas Festival
SHUTTLES: You can hop on a festival shuttle to get around the Festival. The shuttles will make a loop around the activity areas and are available about every 15-20 minutes on Saturday only at these locations:
#1-HACC Parking Lot
#2-Library (High Street)
#4-Dobbin House/82 Café
#5-Gettysburg Heritage Center
#6-Rec Park (GARA)
#8-Seminary Ridge Museum
#9-Transit Center (near Lincoln Square)
? Harrisburg Area Community College
? Gettysburg Area School District
? WellSpan Health
? Gettysburg Recreation Park
? Seminary Ridge Museum
? Race Horse Alley Parking Garage behind the Gettysburg Hotel is $15 all day.
? Metered Short-Term Parking. More information HERE.
? Borough Lot 1: Located in the 1st block of East Middle Street south side, this lot provides twenty four 3-hour parking meters.
? County Lot: Located in the 1st block of East Middle Street north side, this lot provides 12-hour meters.
? The Deck Lot: Located in front of the Parking Garage on Race Horse Alley off Stratton Street.
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Public Restrooms In Gettysburg During The Festival
Some buildings in Gettysburg will be open to use restrooms and there will be portable restrooms available as well.
- Parking Garage behind Gettysburg Hotel on Lincoln Square.
- Portable restrooms are also located within the road closure area.
- Portable restrooms behind 340 Baltimore Street
- Adams County Courthouse (111 Baltimore Street)
- Gettysburg Library (20 East High Street)
- Dobbin House (89 Steinwehr Avenue).
- Gettysburg Heritage Center (297 Steinwehr Avenue).
- Portable restrooms are located behind 9 Steinwehr Avenue (behind Rosie’s Collection).
GETTYSBURG AREA RECREATION PARK
- Public restrooms at the Rec Park (545 Long Lane).
- Portable restrooms also available.
UNITED LUTHERAN SEMINARY
- Seminary Ridge Museum (111 Seminary Ridge).
ADAMS COUNTY ARTS COUNCIL
- Arts Council (125 Washington Street).
OTHER PORTABLE RESTROOMS
- 7-Eleven (69 Chambersburg Street)
- Harrisburg Area Community College Parking Lot (731 Old Harrisburg Road)
Need A Place To Stay In Gettysburg?
Here are some suggestions for local hotels that are offering transportation options to the Christmas Festival. Accommodations will fill up fast, so make your reservations as soon as possible!
My Recommendations For Gettysburg Lodging:
Gettysburg Hotel: Located on Lincoln Square. Walk to everything!
Wyndham Gettysburg: A few miles east of Gettysburg. Offers shuttle service to the Festival.
Gettysburg Quality Inn: 380 Steinwher Avenue. Walk to everything.
Best Western Gettysburg: 301 Steinwehr in the heart of the tourist district (and festival).
1863 Inn of Gettysburg: 516 Baltimore Street. In the heart of the tourist district. Walk to everything!
Federal Pointe Inn: 75 Springs Avenue. Beautifully restored hotel. Close to downtown. Walkable to Festival.
BED AND BREAKFASTS:
Brickhouse Inn: Located at 424 Baltimore Street in the middle of the Festival activities.
Swope Manor: Located at 58-60 York Street. Walkable to the Festival.
The Tillie Pierce House Inn: 301 Baltimore Street, Historic (haunted) inn in the middle of the Festival.
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Other Christmas Events In Gettysburg
The Annual Tuba Carol Fest: 2nd Friday in December
First Friday Events: The First Friday of every month features specials and sales at downtown stores and businesses.