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Americans gear up for festive holiday season

NEW YORK -- Lights, trees, gingerbread and the Grinch are among the Christmastime attractions on display around the country. Here are some details.

New York City's holiday traditions include the tree at Rockefeller Center, the Radio City “Christmas Spectacular” show, origami decorations on the tree at the American Museum of Natural History, the Neapolitan Baroque creche and tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and of course windows decorated with Christmas themes in stores around the city.

In the Bronx, the New York Botanical Garden hosts its annual train show, with model trains winding around miniature replicas of New York landmarks made from plant materials like bark, leaves and nuts. At Grand Central Terminal, there are real trains, along with a light show each evening through Dec. 26 from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. And at the Children's Museum of Manhattan, an interactive exhibit called “The Grinch's Holiday Workshop” is up through Dec. 31, along with a synthetic ice rink where kids can skate in their socks.

In Florida, Universal Orlando offers the “Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular” show and re-enactments of New York's Macy's parade with balloons and costumed characters, Saturday, Dec. 7 through Jan. 4. At Walt Disney World, festivities include Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom, the candlelight processional at Epcot, and the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

There's no snow for Santa's sleigh in Florida's coastal cities, so he arrives by water, with Christmas boat parades held in harbors and on waterways around the state. Most take place the first two weekends of December.

In Virginia, the Ice Palace, a 9-meter ice dome with falling snow, a light show, huge snow globes and a 360-degree interactive exhibit on the Arctic, is on display through Dec. 24 at Norfolk's MacArthur Center. The Dominion Garden of Lights, a 3.2-kilometer drive-through light show at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Hampton Roads, is held nightly through Dec. 31. Elsewhere in Virginia, Busch Gardens Williamsburg claims one of the largest light displays in the country, with 6 million lights covering the park.

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This undated photo provided by the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina shows the National Historic Landmark's banquet hall decorated for Christmas. Holiday displays at the estate will be up through Jan. 12. (AP)



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