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Go to These Cheap (or Free) Holiday Events This Year

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Photo: TravnikovStudio (Shutterstock)

Want to do something with the kids for the holidays, but can’t afford breakfast with Santa or the Polar Express train ride? Or perhaps you’re looking for something festive to do with your friends or on a date, but tickets to the Nutcracker aren’t in the budget. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Here are a few examples of free or cheap events that take place in communities across the country throughout the holiday season.

Free or cheap holiday events

Check the event listings in your community and surrounding areas for activities like these:

City/town tree-lighting ceremonies

Though the lighting of the Rockefeller Center tree and National Christmas Tree get all the attention, there are smaller-scale tree-lighting ceremonies in cities, towns, and neighborhoods across the country. Your local government website should have the details on how to attend, but don’t wait to check: Many are happening this week.

Holiday open houses

Cultural institutions like museums, local historical societies, and libraries often hold holiday open houses, which are typically free and open to the public—even if there’s usually an entry fee—and often involve free refreshments.

Historical homes that now operate as museums are a particularly good choice, as they often have period holiday decorations. This is a great way to check out a place in your community that you’ve always wanted to visit.

Concerts, plays, and screenings

There’s typically no shortage of free or cheap holiday performances you can attend in your community, including but not limited to choir concerts, Christmas pageants, holiday movie screenings, and carol singalongs.

Driving around looking at holiday lights

While this isn’t an “official” event, you can make it one. Pile everyone in the car, crank your favorite holiday music, and cruise around looking at the lights. Technically it’s not totally free, because you still have to pay for gas, but at least you get to enjoy the lights without footing the energy bill.

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