Koziar’s Christmas Village in Bernville, Pa., has been a family affair ever since it began 72 years ago, according to Sonia Koziar.
“My parents, William and Grace Koziar, loved Christmas and began decorating their home for the pleasure and beauty it gave them and their four children — June, Sonia, Beverly and Billy. Each year, more and more lights and decorations were added to the house, dairy barn, sheds, fences and surrounding landscape. The unusual beauty was enhanced by the reflection of the thousands of lights in the lake located directly in front of the house. Neighbors and their friends continued to come and view ‘the Christmas house’ and soon a field was cleared to allow parking so visitors could get a closer look. After a few years, my parents decided that we should add buildings to our display so each year, after Christmas, our family would sit around the kitchen table and plan what we were going to do the next year. The first building we added was ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ and we filled it with a Santa, a Christmas tree and our own toys. We now have over 25 Christmas-themed buildings in the village, including the Old Country Church, the Toymaker’s Shop, Christmas Beneath the Sea, Christmas in Other Lands, a beautiful Manger Scene and the Reading Railroad, to name a few. Over the years, we have added refreshment and gift barns where we have unusual Christmas gifts available. This year we added a museum to honor our parents. It includes the history of Christmas Village, as well as carriages and sleighs that we used as children. Our farm is located in a beautiful valley, and the million plus Christmas lights in the village make it even more beautiful. What began as ‘The Christmas House’ is now ‘Koziar’s Christmas Village.’”
The Koziar children continue the tradition of Christmas Village. Sonia, her sister Beverly, and Sonia’s son Jeffrey work at the village, along with a staff of about 100 helpers during the Christmas season. Some of the workers are third generation families who grew up in the area. The village welcomes visitors from all 50 states and many foreign countries. Some visitors bring pictures of past visits to the village, including photos of their children’s and grandchildren’s visits with Santa over many years. Many couples bring photos of their first kiss on the Kissing Bridge, being engaged on the Kissing Bridge, and even getting married on the Kissing Bridge.
Koziar’s Christmas Village has received numerous awards over the years, including the Award of Excellence from the Pennsylvania Travel Council, the Best Outdoor Christmas Display in the World from Display World Magazine, and the Best of the Best Award from the American Bus Association. A video of Koziar’s Christmas Village shown on Japan Airlines motivated passengers to rent a bus and visit the village.
Visitors walk through the village on their own and spend about one and a half hours viewing the decorations, having pictures made with Santa, shopping for souvenirs, and enjoying snacks. The village is handicapped accessible. Christmas Village will be open weekend nights (Friday-Sunday) Nov. 2-24, and every night from Thanksgiving through New Year’s night. Children ages 3 years and under can enter for free. Admission is $10-$12 for others. Pictures with Santa are extra, but parking is free. (610-488-1110 or koziarschristmasvillage.com).
Lights in D.C.
More than two million pounds of ice will cover the 300-acre Gaylord National Resort near Washington as more than two million lights dazzle visitors during “Christmas on the Potomac,” between Nov. 15 and Dec. 30. In addition to stunning decorations, a multitude of special activities and events are planned. Visitors will be treated to ice, featuring Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and may enjoy feasting with the Grinch himself. They may go ice skating or snow tubing; have photos made with Santa and enjoy time with Mrs. Claus; decorate a gingerbread house or Build a Bear; stroll through the Christmas Village and watch the snowfall or ride the Village Express train. There are light and laser shows, cirque performances, and other special shows. Visitors who want to spend more time at the resort during “Christmas on the Potomac” might consider booking a room at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, a Marriott Bonvoy property, offering nearly 2,000 rooms, a 19-story glass atrium overlooking the Potomac River, plus dining, shopping and entertainment. Visit gaylordhotelsnews.com for more details or to enter a chance to win two free nights at Gaylord Resorts in various locations of the United States.
More than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LEDs, animated light installations, and live music provide a festive atmosphere at the National Zoo during Zoolights, Nov. 23-Jan. 1 (except Dec. 24-25 and 31).
The National Tree on the White House Ellipse is also something to see. It is surrounded by decorated trees from 56 states and territories that are lit daily from 4:30 until 10 pm. Musical performances are given each night.
Visitors may take a character-guided tour of George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and enjoy 18th-century dancing and fireside caroling amid the glow of candlelight, Nov. 23-24 and 30, Dec. 1, 7-8 & 16 between 5 and 8 pm.
The holiday celebration at Six Flags America in Woodmore, Md., features more than a million lights, holiday entertainment, seasonal trees, visits with Santa and popular theme park rides from Nov. 23-Jan. 1 (washington.org).
Lights in Williamsburg
Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va., offers one of the largest light displays in America. The theme park features more than 10 million lights, a holiday train, photos with Rudolph, and special shows, beginning in mid-November and continuing through early January (buschgardens.com/williamsburg).
The Grand Illumination weekend at Colonial Williamsburg, Dec. 7-8, is another holiday event not to be missed. Featuring a parade, Christmas decorations, and performances on multiple stages, it culminates with the firing of guns and fireworks over the Colonial Capital on Sunday (colonialwilliamsburg.com).
Beyond the Mid-Atlantic
The debut of Ken Burns’ documentary on “Country Music” in September coincided with the first anniversary of the Tennessee Music Pathways Route, which opened last year. From Bristol to Memphis and everywhere in between visitors may uncover the history that changed the course of American music and walk in the footsteps of the legends seen in Burn’s masterpiece. Bristol, where the first recording sessions took place in 1927, is home to the Smithsonian-affiliated Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Nashville is the setting for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the world’s largest music museum; hallowed Ryman Auditorium, where music legends such as Minnie Pearl and Roy Acuff performed for decades; The Patsy Cline Museum, which is dedicated to popular songstress who died in a plane crash; the Johnny Cash Museum, which honors the “Man in Black.”
In Memphis, visitors may tour Beale Street, “Home of the Blues,” where B.B. King, Louis Armstrong and other blues artists played; Sun Records, where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins had their “Million Dollar Quartet” sessions; and Elvis Presley’s Graceland, where the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll lived and is buried. Loretta Lynn’s Ranch & Campgrounds in Hurricane Mills and Dolly Parton’s Dollywood theme park in Sevierville are also on the Tennessee Music Pathways Route.
The state delivers an unparalleled experience of beauty, history, and family adventure, infused with music that creates a vacation that is “The Soundtrack of America” (tnvacation.com).
Carol Timblin welcomes travel news at firstname.lastname@example.org.