Madison, New Jersey
The Family Stone, about a Christmas gathering of the title family led by Diane Keaton, appears to take place in New England—but although the Stones’ home’s exterior is located in Connecticut, the town scenes were actually filmed in the charming New Jersey suburb of Madison (also this writer’s hometown). Stars Dermot Mulroney and Claire Danes take an evening stroll among the twinkling storefronts, and even though it was March, real snow fell at just the right time to lend even more winter ambiance to the 2005 movie. Additional scenes were filmed in Madison’s Drew and Fairleigh Dickinson universities.
Bohemian Switzerland, Czech Republic
With the wintry setting of Narnia (“always winter, never Christmas”) and an appearance by Santa Claus himself, 2005’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe can count itself among favorite holiday films that aren’t strictly about Christmas. The summer scenes were filmed in New Zealand, but the area of the Czech Republic known as Bohemian Switzerland had the honor of representing the snow-covered fantasyland. If you’re looking for Mr. Tumnus’ house, check among the cool stone formations of Tisa Walls (Tiske Skaly), a great area for hiking and rock climbing. Looking for the amazing natural rock bridge the children cross? It’s called Pravcicka Bana, and unfortunately, it’s not stable enough for everyone to walk on, but you can view it from a distance.
One of this year’s biggest Hallmark Channel holiday movies, Christmas at Graceland, was really filmed at Elvis’ legendary home in Memphis, Tennessee. The production used Graceland’s actual Christmas decorations, including the blue lights Elvis’ father installed. “Nobody ever gets to go behind those velvet ropes, so I definitely don’t take it for granted,” star Kellie Pickler said in Hallmark’s behind-the-scenes video. “To be able to film with Elvis’s piano—who gets to say they’ve done that?” See Christmas at Graceland (the real thing, not the movie) for yourself.