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2021 Best Holiday River Town

River Travel Magazine is excited to announce the 2021 Best Holiday River Town Contest winners! Survey takers voted on the final results in the final voting round from November 12th through December 3rd. Over 80 river communities throughout the US were voted on in the final round, and based on the votes river communities were ranked 1st place through 5th place for the Best Holiday River Towns in each category.

Survey takers voted on a range of river communities from quaint river towns and small alpine villages with charming holiday traditions to bigger river communities bustling with holiday events and spectacular light shows, coming in from all around the US. Here are the 2021 best holiday river town winners!

Best Holiday River Town (Below 500 Pop)

1. Prairie du Rocher, Illinois

The holidays in Prairie du Rocher means La Fete de Noel. The kids can make holiday crafts and write letters to Santa, and everyone can enjoy the horse and carriage rides, raffles, historic home tours and holiday shopping.

2. Stockholm, Wisconsin

Every holiday season Stockholm celebrates God Jul, a Swedish Christmas tradition that centers around the Jultomte, a gnome-like creature riding a horse-drawn wagon through the village, Santa Lucia and mini-Tomte. The town celebrates with sleigh rides, holiday treats, gifts, local shopping and more!

3. Wallace, Idaho

Spread holiday cheer at the Wallace Home Town Christmas Festival with an old fashioned home-town style holiday! Visitors and locals alike enjoy the lighting of the streets and historic buildings, crafts fair, the Winter Walk, gingerbread contest, parades, children’s pageant and downtown holiday shopping specials.

4. Grand Lake, Colorado

5. Stowe, Vermont

Best Holiday River Town (501-1,000 Pop)

1. Lansing, Iowa

A town with a strong community and heart, Lansing, Iowa goes all out for the holidays, spreading Christmas cheer town wide all season long!

2. Crested Butte, Colorado

Snow, skiing, sleigh ride dinners, and a beautiful mountain town to explore with family! The scenery looks even better with the holiday lights and decorations all around town.

3. Silverton, Colorado

Some holidays are best spent in a small Colorado mountain town like Silverton! From the annual snowfall to a gorgeous historic downtown with a beautiful tree in the town square, Silverton does small town Christmas right.

4. Helen, Georgia

5. Grafton, Vermont

Best Holiday River Town (1,001-5,000 Pop)

1. Wilson, Arkansas

Wilson bursts with holiday spirit during December! See the historical Tudor buildings shine with lights in the the town square, stop for fancy, festive dinners, holiday concerts, and have a classic southern holiday with a twist.

2. Red Bud, Illinois

During the holidays Red Bud turns into Santa’s Village! Picture a beautiful historic downtown decked out with lights, visits with Santa at his house, tasty treats and drinks, horse drawn carriage rides, festive holiday music, a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, and more!

3. Le Claire, Iowa

Going on their 37th Annual Christmas in Le Claire, the city of Le Claire features a three-day festive event full of shopping, fun, and holiday activities for all ages!

4. Galena, Illinois

5. Leavenworth, Washington

Best Holiday River Town (5,001-15,000 Pop)

1. Chester, Illinois

Going on their 33rd Annual Christmas on the River celebration, Chester, Illinois has had plenty of holiday seasons to perfect their holiday traditions. They host a lighted Christmas parade, a reindeer games’ tournament, a holiday family scavenger hunt, Santa’s official letter mailbox, and much more!

2. St. Augustine, Florida

What could be better than no snow, warm weather, and millions of white lights at the Night of Lights holiday event! St. Augustine offers a Christmas wonderland minus the cold and the unpleasant weather, as well as a ton of holiday traditions and cheer.

3. Frankenmuth, Michigan

Celebrate the holidays in true Bavarian fashion at Michigan’s Little Bavaria, Frankenmuth. The German style village is beautifully adorned in holiday lights and decorations every December, as well as Santa, home tours, and Christmas concerts and carolers.

4. Taos, New Mexico

5. Solvang, California

Best Holiday River Town (15,001- 30,000 Pop)

1. Red Wing, Minnesota

Holiday charm and cheerfulness lives at around every corner in Red Wing, Minnesota. They kick things off with a pancake breakfast at their Holiday Stroll event and roll right into parades, live animals, sleigh rides, and visits with Mr. and Mrs. Clause.

2. Durango, Colorado

Sprinkled with tons of Colorado snow and decorated with sleigh bells and wreaths, a holiday visit to Durango can be much like walking into a Hallmark movie! Hit the slopes, spend time by the fire, and enjoy all the holiday events planned throughout the community.

3. Natchitoches, Louisiana

History and tradition run deep in Natchitoches, LA; even their holiday celebrations date back to the late 1920s! However it’s evolved from one day of celebrations to six weeks of holiday festivities. Imagine over 300,000 lights and plenty of events celebrating their Creole heritage like parades, fireworks, historic home tours and much more!

4. Stillwater, Minnesota

5. Yukon, Oklahoma

Best Holiday River Town (30,001- 60,000 Pop)

1. La Crosse, Wisconsin

There are many ways to get into the Holiday spirit in La Crosse with local holiday shopping, live holiday musical and theatrical performances, and seeing the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train as it comes through town. But the biggest event is the annual Rotary Lights holiday display held at Riverside Park with over 3,000,000 lights, carriage rides, Santa and his reindeer, an ice rink, and helicopter rides!

2. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

White Christmas and the world’s tallest living Christmas tree! Coeur d’Alene is a great holiday town complete with a 1.5 million light display on the water featuring a merry fleet of boats decked out in lights and decorations.

3. Annapolis, Maryland & Grapevine, Texas

Offering a historic and traditional take on the holidays, Annapolis features guided tours, candlelit evening walks, and beautiful holiday décor and lights throughout the town. They even have a holiday lights parade in the harbor each December featuring the holiday handiwork and cheer of boat owners from around the area.

Known as the Christmas Capital of Texas, Grapevine keeps the holidays merry and bright. For 40 days they celebrate the holidays with unique and traditional Christmas festivities and events, including millions of lights, enormous decorations, animated characters, and more!

4. Gadsden, Alabama

5. Lake Havasu City, Arizona & Richmond, Indiana

Best Holiday River Town (70,000+Pop)

1. Missoula, Montana

Missoula goes all out for the holidays with an annual Holiday Window Decorating Contest, photos with Santa at the north pole, a community Christmas feast, the Missoula Valley Winter Market, a Light the Way 5k holiday run complete with Christmas lights, holiday cookies, hot chocolate, music, and more bringing the community together each season!

2. Davenport, Iowa

Explore downtown Davenport this Holiday season and expect to find lots of twinkling lights, holiday cheer, and events. Popular holiday traditions include touring historic homes, strolling the Christmas markets, and driving through beautiful holiday light displays!

3. Franklin, Tennessee

Franklin is considered magical by many during the holiday season, and it’s not hard to see why! The town is decked out in lights, wreaths, and garlands, they hold the holiday festival Dickens of a Christmas, two different holiday parades and the Franktown Festival of Lights annually, and you can even brunch with the big man himself, Santa!

4. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

5. Janesville, Wisconsin

Best Holiday River Town (Overall)

1. Missoula, Montana

Missoula goes all out for the holidays with an annual Holiday Window Decorating Contest, photos with Santa at the north pole, a community Christmas feast, the Missoula Valley Winter Market, a Light the Way 5k holiday run complete with Christmas lights, holiday cookies, hot chocolate, music, and more bringing the community together each season!

2. La Crosse, Wisconsin

There are many ways to get into the Holiday spirit in La Crosse with local holiday shopping, live holiday musical and theatrical performances, and seeing the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train as it comes through town. But the biggest event is the annual Rotary Lights holiday display held at Riverside Park with over 3,000,000 lights, carriage rides, Santa and his reindeer, an ice rink, and helicopter rides!

3. Red Bud, Illinois

During the holidays Red Bud turns into Santa’s Village! Picture a beautiful historic downtown decked out with lights, visits with Santa at his house, tasty treats and drinks, horse drawn carriage rides, festive holiday music, a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, and more!

4. St. Augustine, Florida

5. Davenport, Iowa

Congrats to all the river communities!

La Crosse Distilling