Skip to main content

Southlake Style

See Where The Christmas Magic Happens

Nov 26, 2018 01:57PM ● By Maleesa Johnson
Despite the twinkling lights and festive trimmings, it can sometimes be hard to feel Christmassy in Texas. Perhaps you’ve heard Bing Crosby croon “White Christmas” on the radio as you adjust your car’s air conditioning, or maybe the closest you’ve gotten to Frosty the Snowman was the inflatable in your front yard.
No matter the case, Texans can always retreat to Christmas movies to summon up some festive feelings. This year, do one better by visiting the filming location of a classic tale, a location rumored to be the inspiration of a Christmas classic or a lookalike we dug up to satisfy your need for a real “Holiday Inn.”
Seneca Falls
Seneca Falls, New York, has two claims to fame: It is heralded as the birthplace of women’s rights and it is rumored to be the inspiration of the fictional town of “Bedford Falls, New York” in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” What suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott accomplished in the small town paved the way for women to vote, so even if you aren’t a fan of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” this historical destination is definitely still worth a visit.
If you travel here around Christmas, however, it would be impossible to miss the town’s other claim to fame. That, in part, is due to a massive annual festival held each year called, “It’s A Wonderful Life Festival.” The four-day festival has over 60 events, exhibits and activities featured on its schedule. Attendees have multiple opportunities to meet actors from the movie and get autographs. Swing dance lessons, roasted chestnuts, tours and museum exhibits abound. The similarities between the real and fictional towns are listed on the festivals website, but locals just point to the iconic truss bridge. It’s almost identical to the one in the film where George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) encounters Clarence (Henry Travers). Additionally, both towns are mill towns and the architecture bears a striking resemblance.
For the people of Seneca Falls, it’s not a rumor that movie director Frank Capra was inspired by Seneca Falls. For them, it’s a hard fact.
Fans of both Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” and “Holiday Inn” can quickly point out that the movie sets are the same. The Columbia Inn featured in “White Christmas” is set in the fiction town of Pine Tree, Vermont. The older film is written to take place somewhere in Connecticut. Despite the inn only being a movie set at Paramount Pictures, fans will all agree: They would stay there in a heartbeat. While you will not encounter Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen, Fred Astaire or Marjorie Reynolds, we found a place that will appeal to all classic romantics.

The Inn at Manchester in Manchester Center, Vermont, has striking similarities to the films’ iconic set. The first and most prominent parallel is the exterior aesthetic. The main house is large, white and features a large front porch, much like the Holiday Inn. In “White Christmas,” viewers are able to see a much larger portion of the set features a large room – large enough to hold a battalion and their families – with a stage. In the movie, this room is housed in the barn adjacent to the Columbia Inn, which brings us back to the real-life Inn at Manchester. The Vermont inn has a large red barn set up for events such as wedding receptions. In the winter, the entire property is swathed in snow – a pivotal part of “White Christmas’” plot obviously. Cuddle up next to a fireplace at the Inn at Manchester and dream of Bing Crosby… singing about “counting blessings instead of sheep.”
New York City
There are so many Christmas movies that take place in the Big Apple, but for the sake of brevity, we’ll only point out three major stops. The first, of course, is Macy’s Herald Square on 34th Street. The pinnacle place of “Miracle on 34th Street,” this Macy’s is the backdrop for a film that has us convinced that Santa lives in New York City. If you’re in the market for a Christmas-movie themed department store spree, you’ll get bonus points for stopping by Gimbels, where Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell) was briefly employed in the movie “Elf.”
Speaking of “Elf,” remember the scene where Santa barely makes it out of Central Park and his sleigh knocks over a statue? That statue was at Bethesda Fountain, one of the most iconic spots in the park. It’s also featured in a scene of “Home Alone 2,” so two birds, one stone! And of course, to hit peak Christmas spirit levels, pay a visit to the Rink at Rockefeller Center. Also seen in “Elf” – the movie is basically a Christmas tourism ad for NYC – the rink has the best view of the iconic, enormous Christmas tree.