For some, decorating gingerbread houses is a Christmas tradition, while others are content to simply admire the creativity of others. Either way, there's no shortage of impressive holidays displays across the continent this holiday season. Whether in New York, Denver, or San Francisco, these gingerbread houses and accompanying displays and festivities will warm the heart of even the most curmudgeonly Scrooge this holiday season.
NATIONAL GINGERBREAD HOUSE COMPETITION, NC
One of the most renowned gingerbread displays in the country is the National Gingerbread House Competition at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville. The 25th annual competition, starting late last month, has 170 gingerbread creations, including elaborate stacks of books, bags of toys, and a scene of "Christmas in Venice." The entries have already been judged and awarded, but the public can view the display for free until Jan. 4. (Parking costs at least $20, but half the fee is donated to local charities.)
GINGERBREAD LANE AT THE NEW YORK HALL OF SCIENCE
The New York Hall of Science holds GingerBread Lane, a display of 1,320 gingerbread buildings created by chef Jon Lovitch. He earned the Guinness World Record for largest gingerbread village in 2013 and has broken his own record every year since. Each version of the village takes about a year to create, and he's pushing for a record again this year. Admission to the Hall of Science is $16 for adults 18 and older and $13 for youth 2 to 17. The village is on display until Jan. 15.
FAIRMONT SAN FRANCISCO
The lobby at Fairmont San Francisco is home to a two-story gingerbread house with a completely edible exterior. It's 25 feet tall by 35 feet wide -- even bigger than last year's -- and features "bricks" adorned with more than 2.5 tons of icing and candy. A tea inside the house can be reserved through Jan. 1, but it ranges from $99 to $119 for adults, plus tax and tip.
WINTERGARDEN AT PPG PLACE, PA
The 15th annual gingerbread house display and competition at PPG Place in Pittsburgh includes houses made by everyone from preschoolers to professionals. Livability ranked it the second-best gingerbread house competition in the United States in 2014. The houses are on display in the PPG Place Wintergarden through Jan. 6. Admission is free, but donations benefiting a local children's hospital are welcome.
CANDY CREATIONS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD
Walt Disney World in Florida boasts several confectionary delights. The lobby of the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is home to a 16-foot-tall gingerbread house that took more than 400 hours to bake and more than 160 hours to build and decorate. Disney's Contemporary Resort features a Cinderella gingerbread castle with gingerbread shingles, chocolate-covered trees, and sugar snowflakes. There are other sugary creations at Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and more.
DISNEYLAND'S HAUNTED MANSION HOLIDAY, CA
Visitors to Disneyland in Anaheim can get a glimpse of a gingerbread display in the ballroom scene of the Haunted Mansion ride, which takes on a "Nightmare Before Christmas" theme for the holidays. This is the 17th year the ride has featured a gingerbread house, which is made of more than 200 pounds of gingerbread.
SHERATON SEATTLE HOTEL'S GINGERBREAD VILLAGE
For the 25th year, the Sheraton Seattle Hotel has a gingerbread village on display. This year's theme is "25 Years of Cheer: A Celebration of Seattle," and the candy creations were inspired by the city's ever-changing attractions and skyline. The free display has moved to the City Centre building, where it can be viewed up to 18 hours a day, seven days a week until Jan. 1. Visitors can vote on their favorite pieces throughout the season.
GEORGE WASHINGTON AND GINGERBREAD, VA
Ferry Farm in Stafford County is George Washington's childhood home, and for 31 years it's been home to a gingerbread house competition and exhibit. This year's theme is "Historic Sites in Virginia." The exhibit is open every day through Dec. 30 (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Admission to the Ferry Farm and the gingerbread exhibit is $9 for adults and $4.50 for students. Gingerbread-only tickets are also available at $4.50 for adults and $2 for students. Either way, kids under 6 get in free.
GINGERBREAD AT CLEVELAND BOTANICAL GARDEN
The Cleveland Botanical Garden holds a gingerbread house competition every year, and the houses become part of Glow, the garden's "winter spectacular." Along with gingerbread houses, Glow boasts decorated trees, musicians and carolers, craft making, a wish tree, and more. Glow continues through Dec. 31. Admission is $16 for adults and $12 for kids 3 to 12.
VINTAGE CHRISTMAS, NH
This year is Discover Portsmouth's 27th annual gingerbread exhibit. The New Hampshire town's display has a vintage flair. The gingerbread houses are created by locals, and the display is surrounded by large photos of Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth and New Hampshire trains in winter. The display is open until Dec. 23, and admission is free.
DINE-IN GINGERBREAD HOUSE, AZ
The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain in Marana has a life-size dine-in gingerbread house. The ingredients include 856 pounds of sugar, 100 pounds of ginger powder, and 250 eggs. The house is free for public viewing, but the cost to have a meal inside is, shall we say, not cheap. For a group of up to six people, it's $200 to $250 to rent the space for lunch or dinner, and that's not including the cost of the meal.
GINGERBREAD HOUSE SCAVENGER HUNT, CANADA
Sidney, British Columbia, is holding a gingerbread house scavenger hunt until Dec. 22. There are 50 gingerbread houses spread throughout the town's shops and businesses. Participants who find at least 12 of them can enter a drawing for prizes.