7 College Campuses With the Most Holiday Spirit

We found seven colleges with the most holiday spirit and the best winter student life calendars. Check out their epic festivities and events.
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  • Many universities host holiday events and light Christmas trees for students in the winter.
  • Activities include tree-lighting ceremonies, performances, free food, and Santa visits.
  • Baylor and Ohio State top our list for the scope and production behind their extravaganzas.

'Tis the season for merry festivities and campus cheer. Colleges everywhere are finding ways to embrace the holiday spirit and celebrate the season with parties, ceremonies, bazaars, and concerts. And with many of 2020's events modified or canceled, the holiday enthusiasm is big this year.

Though we don't necessarily recommend you choose your college based on its Christmas party, there's no doubt that holiday celebrations are a great indicator of student life and campus activity.

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Ready to Start Your Journey?

Looking to add a little holiday excitement to your life? Here are seven colleges with epic winter events.

1. Baylor University β€” Waco, TX

Located in Waco, Texas, Baylor is known for its "Christmas on 5th Street Celebration." This year marks the school's 56th year holding the celebration β€” and it's big. Visitors can see Christmas lights hung all along 5th street and throughout campus.

During the celebration, you'll find horse-drawn carriages, an ice rink, face painting, and food trucks. There's also a Christmas market with local vendors, a live nativity scene with camels and donkeys, and a petting zoo.

The list goes on with special appearances from Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, photo stations, crafts, a choir performance, a nutcracker performance, caricatures, ornament making, and live jazz.

The tree lighting could double as a holiday rave, with a band, lights, and faux snow. The event is so epic that it even has its own merchandise.

2. The Ohio State University β€” Columbus, OH

Orton rings, are you listening. In the lane, Mirror Lake is glistening. 🎢🀩 πŸ“Έ: @dukart.photo (IG)

Posted by The Ohio State University on Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Ohio State's campus is home to a small body of water called Mirror Lake. During the holidays, the university strings around 60,000 lights in the trees around the lake.

The lighting event, called Light Up the Lake, began in 2004 and features performances from student organizations like the dance team, the jump rope club, and a cappella groups. Attendees can enjoy cookies, hot chocolate, tea, and ice sculptures.

Each year the lights remain up around the lake until February.

3. Texas Tech University β€” Lubbock, TX

In 2021, the Carol of Lights celebration at Texas Tech will be ringing in its 63rd year. At least 25,000 lights are strung across 18 buildings around campus and a 38-foot tall Christmas tree is lit at the celebration.

The ceremony also features choir performances, a torchlight processional, and a carillon concert from the 43 bells in the west tower.

In addition, Texas Tech hosts the Carol of Lights Run, an evening 5K or 1-mile run on a course that takes you right through the lights. Carolers sing at several locations around the course, and at the end you'll find hot chocolate and a warm treat.

4. Seton Hall University β€” South Orange, NJ

Seton Hall hosts a variety of holiday events for students to participate in. Its Christmas tree-lighting ceremony features 40,000 lights. The lighting event also includes hot cocoa stations and performances from the school's theater program, gospel choir, dance team, and pep band.

Other events throughout December are Christmas karaoke, Christmas cabaret, a breakfast with Santa Claus, a winter ball, and a Christmas market.

If your holiday spirit's feeling particularly generous, you can get involved in the 12 Acts of Christmas Kindness tradition in which students perform various acts of kindness throughout the community.

5. Villanova University β€” Villanova, PA

Tonight, we came together as a community to celebrate our annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. πŸŽ„

Posted by Villanova University Alumni Association on Friday, December 3, 2021

At Villanova, students enjoy holiday activities all throughout December, including trivia nights, Christmas concerts, movie screenings, Advent services, breakfast with Santa Claus, and crafts like ornament decorating.

The big event is a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony and holiday bazaar. The tree lighting features food trucks, carriage rides through campus, giveaways, and musical entertainment.

At the holiday night market, students can shop at an array of community vendors and artisans. The bazaar also offers food trucks, a beer garden, a light show, and music.

6. Columbia University β€” New York, NY

Tree Lighting 2020

The scene has been set, the trees have been lit! 🌲🌳✨ Join the undergraduate student councils and Columbia Undergraduate Student Life for the annual Tree Lighting ceremony, hosted virtually tomorrow night from 8-8:30 p.m. EST: https://bit.ly/3qDRjgn. Merrymaking will be brought to you by student a capella groups and a message from the deans. In the spirit of giving, check out Columbia University in the City of New York's Toy Drive, benefitting children in the Morningside and Harlem communities: https://bit.ly/2J6QprG.

Posted by Columbia College on Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Columbia's location in New York City alone does a lot for its holiday cheer. The city boasts some of the most impressive light displays and Christmas trees in the country β€” all just a subway ride from campus.

In support of this holiday enthusiasm, Columbia hosts a lighting ceremony for the school's own 70-foot tree. Students gather to watch performances from a cappella groups and indulge in free hot chocolate.

7. University of Dayton β€” Dayton, OH

Posted by Christmas on Campus on Monday, November 8, 2021

At the University of Dayton, Christmas is serious business. The school's Christmas on Campus pre-events kick off in October, and it even has an entire Instagram account dedicated to its Christmas festivities.

The event peaks with a Christmas carnival, a tree lighting, and a feast. At the Christmas on Campus celebration, events are held throughout the evening leading up to the tree lighting. There's also a candlelight procession, refreshments, performances from a local children's choir, pictures with Santa, a live nativity scene, and a reindeer petting zoo.

Feature Image: Lorado / E+ / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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