This Chrimbo-themed megastore attracts two million shoppers a year and has so many Christmas lights it racks up a daily electricity bill of $900
If you’re sick of Christmas shopping, then Bronner’s probably isn’t the place for you. The shop, which is spread over a whopping 27 acres, is the world’s largest Christmas store. Imagine the biggest supermarket you’ve ever been to, then replace all the food with tinsel, artificial trees and decorations, and you’ll be close to the spectacle that Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland provides.
Located in Frankenmuth, a small town described as Michigan’s “little Bavaria” (complete with horse-drawn carriages and German beer), Bronner’s has proved such a popular attraction over the years that in 1976 the state designated it an “Embassy for Michigan Tourism”. Over two million people visit the shop each year, taking a stroll through Bronner’s half-mile “Christmas Lane”, which is lined with thousands of festive lights.
The shop was founded in 1945 by devout Christian and sign painter Wally Bronner, who was said to only “work on days ending in Y”, and earned the nickname Mr Christmas. Wally rapidly expanded the original store into the festive-themed shopping complex it is today. One of the more notable buildings on the grounds is the Silent Night Chapel, a replica of the original in Oberndorf in Austria, where the carol was written. In the grounds is a collection of plaques on which the carol is translated into different languages.
The store now deals in over 50,000 different trimmings and gifts, and sells around 600,000 glass tree ornaments, 500,000ft of garland and 150,000 postcards a year. Outside it is flanked by three gigantic Santas and a 15ft snowman, and hundreds of electric-light models are available to buy. It’s no surprise, then, that their daily electricity bill is $900.
And that schmaltzy Bronner’s experience wouldn’t be complete without lashings of cheesy slogans. The store proudly declare they’ve been “decorating hearts and homes with peace and love since 1945”. Their official motto is “Enjoy CHRISTmas, It’s HIS Birthday; Enjoy Life, It’s HIS Way”, which makes a lot more sense when you believe that “Christmas isn’t just a holiday – It’s a way of life!”
• Open 361 days a year, 25 Christmas Lane, Frankenmuth, Michigan, +1 989 652 9931, bronners.com
Three other places where it’s Christmas every day
Santa Claus, Indiana
This small town of 2,500 people has the only post office in the world that bears the name Santa Claus, which means that every year thousands of letters to St Nick, from all over the world, end up in their sorting office. The Christmas theme doesn’t end there; “America’s Christmas Hometown” also has Santa’s Candy Castle, a red-brick building with turrets that was built by the Curtiss Candy Company in the 1930s and sells gourmet candy canes in abundance.
National Christmas Center, Pennsylvania
When the header on a website states: “We are more than you expect!”, you know you’re in for a weird one. That’s certainly the case at the National Christmas Centre, which is dedicated to preserving and sharing “precious mementoes and memories of Christmas past”. Among the many twee exhibits at the museum are over 500 2D and 3D images of Santa, a mock storybook village depicting Christmas fairytales and Toyland Train Mountain, a three-tier, 30ft wide electric train set that encircles a tree decorated with over 3,000 festive ornaments.
• 3427 Lincoln Highway East Route 30, Paradise, Pennsylvania, +1 717 442 7950, nationalchristmascenter.com
Cidade Albanoel, Brazil
If you like your Christmas-themed amusements to have a little more edge, then this derelict Santa Claus theme park in Brazil is for you. The vast park, where construction began in 2000, was intended to be spread over 38 million square metres, but was never completed after the Brazilian politician who came up with the idea was killed in a car crash right outside its entrance. The site remains filled with gradually decaying Santa figurines, rusty reindeer rides and crumbling candy cane turrets, making it feel more eerie than festive.
• Approximately 10km west of Coroa Grande, on the BR 101 highway between Rio de Janeiro and Paraty