It turns out, you don’t have to visit the North Pole to meet Santa this year. All you really need to do is, well…travel. Airports across the country are decking their halls and bringing the holiday fun in full force to make your journey just as festive as your destination. According to AAA, from December 23 until January 1, 103 million Americans are expected to hit the roads or take to the skies to gather with family and friends. With so many people in motion, holiday travel can become hectic, but hopefully, a little unexpected yuletide spirit at the airport will put you right back into a jolly mood. If you’re traveling through any of the following airports this holiday season, expect to be dazzled and delighted.
DEN: Denver, CO
Be sure to pack your ice skates in your carry-on, if your holiday travels take you through Denver International Airport. Their level 5 plaza will, once again this year, turn into a glorious ice skating rink. From Black Friday until January 6, you’ll be able to glide across the ice and get a little cardio in before you take off. There’s no need to BYO skates, though, if your bags are filled to the brim with presents: You can rent them for free right at the rink.
LAX: Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles may not be a small town, but the white picket fences at the airport this holiday season sure make it feel like one. Behind the fences lining the airport perimeter, you’ll see elaborate Christmas trees decorated with over the top ornaments only Los Angeles can offer. Traveling with kids? They’ll be tickled to find the Polar Express-esque train that runs around the rim of the ceiling in Terminal 4. Perhaps this will make “all a-boarding” the flight a little easier on the whole family!
ORD: Chicago, IL
If you’re traveling through O’Hare this holiday season, you’re bound to find a little extra pep in your step. The Chicago airport consistently puts on a dazzling display of holiday decor. Boughs of holly line the terminals while twinkling lights lead you to your gate. If you’re lucky, you’ll be passing through on a day when choirs are caroling. No matter which gate you’re headed to, be sure to stop in Terminal 3, where O’Hare’s signature globe will be lit with thousands of lights.
IAD: Washington Dulles, VA
The big man himself has been spotted at Washington Dulles International Airport. Santa and Mrs. Claus greet travelers with a little “Ho, ho, ho” so be sure you’re not on the naughty list this year. Aside from Santa, you’ll also hear the spirited singing of carolers, school-aged choirs, and classical bands. Here’s hoping that sends you fa-la-laing to your gate with a smile on your face!
MCO: Orlando, FL
With Disney World just a stone’s throw away, you can bet Orlando International Airport brings their A-game with the holiday decor. Perhaps the tallest Christmas tree of them all lies in the main atrium before security. Shrouded in colorful LED lights, the tree stands 40 feet tall and is surrounded by bright red bougainvilleas and palm trees. But the magic really comes to life when the Orlando Ballet Company shows up. Throughout the season you can catch brief but brilliant performances from the acclaimed ballet company and school, as you make your way to security.
JFK: New York, NY
As the 5th busiest airport in the country, New York’s JFK sees its fair share of domestic and international travelers flood through its halls over the holidays. Despite the constant flow of aircraft and endless stream of rolling bags, JFK still manages to bring the cheer with efforts lead by American Airlines, Delta and the Port Authority of NY/NJ. Delta gets festive with shimmering blue and silver wreaths and gigantic Christmas trees with sparkling white lights in Terminal 4. Best of all, though, JFK holds their famous Operation Santa event every December. On this day, in a selected aircraft hanger, Santa arrives via plane to surprise thousands of children with special needs in a magical event that brings a smile across the faces of everyone involved.
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