This small town knows how to put on a big Christmas celebration

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This small town knows how to throw a big celebration.

There’s something particularly special about the Christmas season in a small Southern town. The streets turn into a winter wonderland with garland wrapped around lampposts, festive wreaths on front doors, and rows of twinkling lights on rooftops. There’s excitement in the air—the whole community participates in spreading holiday cheer. Take Dahlonega, Georgia, for example: This charming town transforms into the seasonal setting of a Hallmark movie. And there’s Bellville, Texas, with its parade of decorated pickup trucks. Some of the best parts of the holiday season in a small town are the community-wide traditions put on year after year—carnivals, pageants, parades, and more.

Known as the “Little City with a Big Heart,” Smiths Grove, Kentucky, is a charming small town in the southern part of the state, about an hour northeast of Nashville. Something magical happens here each Christmas season. Smiths Grove kicks off the holidays with its annual Christmas parade on the first weekend of December. The little city shows off its big heart as the entire community participates in this event, a unifying night of joy and cheer.

Many parts of the community are represented in the parade with a fleet of homemade floats—firemen, police officers, high school clubs and sports teams, Boy Scouts, and the list goes on. It’s the Mardi Gras of Christmas celebrations, with marching bands blaring holiday tunes in the streets. A plethora of eye-catching vintage cars are in line, polished and decorated with wreaths or garland. Next come the tricked-out tractors illuminated with Christmas lights. Classic storybook characters, like the Grinch, make an appearance on several floats. And of course, Santa Claus himself brings up the rear, waving in the beginning of the Christmas season.

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It's worth the trip to Smiths Grove to experience this magical celebration. How does your small town celebrate Christmas? What is your favorite small town to visit during the holiday season?