christmas tree

Christmas on the River: celebrating the festive season in Demopolis, Al

The festive season is an exciting time of year to travel, especially if you like in the south where snow is a rarity and knitwear is just fun, not functional. Alabama might seem like an unlikely location for a Christmas festival, but there’s one place to go where you’re guaranteed to embrace the festive spirit – Demopolis. Its annual Christmas on the River celebration is just around the corner, and here’s how you can make the most of it.

Christmas on the River, a brief history

Since 1972, the Christmas on the River celebration has taken place every year in the heart of Demopolis. It’s a week-long Christmas festival that includes parades, cook-offs, Christmas readings and performances and the Lighting of the Tree celebration. It’s a festival that’s cherished by residents and attracts visitors from all over who are looking to take part in some festive events. With almost 40,000 visitors each year, the festival is definitely something to see and as a result, A&E television named Demopolis as the ‘Fifth Ultimate Holiday Town’ in the United States.


Book a room at the Best Western Plus Two Rivers Hotel & Suites for a relaxing and enjoyable stay in Demopolis during the festival. You’ll be in a good position to travel to the center of town, where most of the Christmas on the River celebrations take place. Among the top things you’ll want to see throughout the week include:

The Lighting of the Tree

The Lighting of the Tree launches the rest of the festival, with the lighting of the Love Light Tree, which can be found at the top of the Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital. A great way to start off the week celebrations, it draws a big crowd of visitors and residents.

The Alabama Barbeque Championship

If you love barbeque, you’ll be in for a treat during the Christmas on the River festival thanks to this epic cook-off where the best in the state compete for top prizes – with plenty of vendors and trucks for you to sample from too.

The crowning of Saint Nicholas

This is a special event where local residents are honored for their services to helping children throughout the year. It’s a touching ceremony and one that’s great for learning more about the local community.

Throughout the week, you’ll also find performances from local choir and community groups, as well as events featuring the local schools which will really help you get into the Christmas spirit.

Exploring Demopolis

In addition to the Christmas on the River celebrations, Demopolis offers many other attractions that you should visit during your stay. Some of Demopolis’ top attractions include Gaineswood, a pre-Civil War property which offers beautiful architecture and a rich history, while Demopolis Public Square is a firm favorite with visitors. A great place to visit at any time of year, there’s a warm welcome for you in Demopolis.

Need some further ideas for winter travel? Head to the Be Inspired pages for great inspiration for your next travel adventure.


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Founder of Turn It To Trvl. After being made redundant from my digital marketing job, in the UK, I decided I no longer wanted to work the traditional 9-5. I found a volunteer opportunity in Malawi in 2015 and am now freelancing from the warm heart of Africa. Curently building a portfolio of clients and trying to inspire more people to live a life of travel.
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