Making Spirits Bright: Dazzling Christmas Light Displays to See in All 50 States

Lewes Lights in  Lewes, Delaware

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Jingle Bells Lane Lewes Light Lewes Delaware
Courtesy of Lewes Lights

Some Light Entertainment

Driving around to view Christmas light displays is a time-honored tradition for many families. Here's a roundup of some of the most extravagant in every state that are worth a visit. Just be thankful you're not paying the electric bills, which one homeowner estimated at hundreds of dollars a month. Got room in your holiday calendar for more than one festive outing? Check out The Most Christmas-y Towns in All 50 States

Galaxy of Lights, Huntsville, Alabama
Blanca E./Yelp

Huntsville, Alabama

The Huntsville Botanical Garden offers an annual Galaxy of Lights, a glimmering 2.5-mile drive-through course that features more than 200 light displays that change yearly. The drive-through option continues through Dec. 15 and then resumes Dec. 26 and continues through Dec. 31. Admission is $30 per car for non-members. There are also walking nights; prices are $20 for adult non-members and $12 for non-member youngsters for pre-purchased tickets.

Blue Christmas spruce and birch tree light display, downtown in the snow, Anchorage, Alaska, USA
Blue Christmas spruce and birch tree light display, downtown in the snow, Anchorage, Alaska, USA by Wonderlane (CC BY)
Phoenix Zoo Christmas Lights
Melissa C./

Phoenix, Arizona

The Phoenix Zoo hosts its annual ZooLights celebration nightly from 5:30 to 10 p.m. all the way until Jan. 14 with nearly 4 million lights, a 200-foot-long light tunnel, and visits from Santa. Ticket prices start at $30 and $25 (members) for online  purchases; at the gate, tickets are $5 more.

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Garvan Woodland Gardens
AJ R./

Hot Springs, Arkansas

In Arkansas this holiday season, head to Garvan Woodland Gardens. Until Dec. 31, the gardens are home to more than 4.5 million dazzling lights over its breathtaking grounds. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for kids ages 4-12 online. Golf cart tours are available for $20 per person.  

Enchanted: Forest of Light at Descanso Gardens
Jash P./

La Cañada Flintridge, California

The location isn't as remote as the name might suggest, the 150-acre Descanso Gardens are just north of Los Angeles and hosts an annual Enchanted Forest of Light until Jan. 7. The display features a mile-long walk through myriad lights and installations including a stained-glass town and other eye-popping favorites. Adult ticket prices start at $35 for non-members and $30 for members; prices for kids are $20 for members and $25 for non-members.  

Castle Rock, Colorado

Castle Rock, Colorado

Denizens of the Meadows neighborhood in Castle Rock, halfway between Denver and Colorado Springs, channel "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" by holding an annual Winter Night Lights Home Lighting Contest. Guests can drive through the community Dec. 12 to Dec. 26 to see the creative, over-the-top designs of homeowners trying to top their neighbors.

Related: 22 Most Iconic RVs From Movies and TV Shows

Connecticut Convention Center Christmas Lights Glow Gardens
Monique A./

Hartford, Connecticut

A million festive lights will brighten the holidays at the Connecticut Convention Center, and visitors won't even have to be in the cold outdoors at Glow Hartford. The indoor holiday light festival and market features interactive light gardens, a trackless “Glow-comotive” train, and photos with Santa. The event ends Dec. 23. Tickets are $29 for adults; $23.50 for kids; and $19 for seniors, military, police, EMS, and veterans. 

Lewes Lights Lewes Delaware Dazzling Holiday Lights
Courtesy of Lewes Lights

Lewes, Delaware

What started as a pandemic-inspired event, Lewes Lights has become an annual tradition. The holidays bring a load of festive decorations to homes and businesses in Lewes, and the free self-guided tour puts them in the spotlight. The event lasts until Dec. 31.

St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches VCB

St. Augustine, Florida

This north Florida community is celebrating its free Nights of Lights through Jan. 28. Expect millions of "tiny white lights" that light up around 20 blocks from the "ground to the rooftops." The lights can be toured by foot, trolley, train, harbor tour, and more.

Rock City Enchanted Garden of Lights '09
Rock City Enchanted Garden of Lights '09 by Kevin Oliver (CC BY-NC-ND)

Rock City, Georgia

The Enchanted Garden of Lights is an annual holiday tradition in this town just south of the Tennessee-Georgia border. Visitors can wander through six holiday-themed zones illuminated by more than a million lights, including Yule Town, the Arctic Kingdom, the Magic Forest, and more. Admission for adults is $28 to $32; kids are $18 to $22. The venue is open through Jan. 6.

Show Aloha Land at Aloha Stadium
Roz M./

Honolulu, Hawaii

For dazzling lights and a very non-Hawaiian chance to go snow-tubing, the Show Aloha Land 2023 at Aloha Stadium will dazzle and excite visitors to the annual holiday extravaganza. Drive-through price is $50 per vehicle; price for other activities like snow-tubing, zip-lining, and train rides is $40 per person with parking costs of $9. 

This house spends $1500 per month on electricity for this display.
This house spends $1500 per month on electricity for this display. by Stephanie D (CC BY-NC-ND)

Boise, Idaho

Boise residents take their holiday lights seriously. In several neighborhoods, there are longstanding Christmas light displays that draw crowds year after year. The Boise Christmas Lights Facebook page contains information on participating homes throughout the city.

ZooLights Lincoln Park Zoo Chicago
Bessie T./

Chicago, Illinois

Chicagoans who love animals and love holiday lights have a great option with Lincoln Park Zoo's ZooLights, which features more than 2.5 million lights, a Ferris wheel, and carolers on select nights. What's more, it's a bargain at $7 most weeknights and $10 other nights. Another delightful option is a simple walk down the city's Magnificent Mile, which is entirely free.

A Merry Prairie Holiday/Reynolds Farm Equipment Christmas Lights, Fishers, Indiana
A Merry Prairie Holiday

Fishers, Indiana

There are lots of options for glitzy Christmas light displays in the Hoosier State. One of the best is A Merry Prairie Holiday at Conner Prairie. The display is open on select days through Dec. 22 and gate admission is $24 for non-members, $12 for members.

City of Christmas, Keokuk, Iowa
City of Christmas

Keokuk, Iowa

Keokuk hosts a City of Christmas attraction in Rand Park that runs through Jan. 1 and features a village devoted to religious and non-religious aspects of the holiday. Keokuk has put on this festival for three decades.  

House decorated and lighted for Christmas
Thomas De Wever/istockphoto

Wichita, Kansas

There are about a dozen homes in Wichita that are truly something to see each Christmas. Take a tour around town and keep warm with this map of the best Christmas light displays and nearby coffee shops. 

Holiday Lights-2
Holiday Lights-2 by laserbub_Drew (CC BY-NC)

Louisville, Kentucky

Go Christmas caving at the Louisville Mega Cavern. Between Nov. 10 and Jan. 1, this tourist attraction is transformed into an enormous holiday light display. The half-hour drive through "Lights Under Louisville" spans 17 miles and features more than 2 million lights and 850 illuminated characters. Visitors must pay $43 per carload. Or take the open-air "Christmas Express" tram tour for $22 per person.

DSC03327 by nsuengineer06 (CC BY-NC-ND)

Natchitoches, Louisiana

The historic city of Natchitoches, the oldest settlement within the 1803 Louisiana Purchase area, has thrown a Christmas Festival for nearly 100 years. The iconic festival was even featured in the film "Steel Magnolias," and its charm makes it easy to see why. Residents use more than 300,000 lights and around 100 set pieces to decorate their homes and properties along Cane River Lake, and visitors can tour the displays free through Jan. 6. Some special events cost a few dollars per person.

Related: Classic Holiday Movie Locations in America and Beyond

Christmas snowman

Wells, Maine

Locals love the Norton Lights display at 213 Canterbury Lane, begun in 2008 when brothers Jon and Stan competed to see who could make the best yard display. Now family members run Christmas and Halloween light shows using computerized animation and radio syncing.

Merriweather Symphony of Lights, Columbia, Maryland
Merriweather Symphony of Lights

Columbia, Maryland

Drive or walk through the Merriweather Symphony of Lights. Through Jan. 1, visitors can check out more than 300,000 bulbs arranged in animated and stationary displays. Drive-through nights are open daily this year ($25 per vehicle) and walk-through nights will happen on Dec. 7, Dec. 12, and Dec. 31. Entry for the walking tour is $15 per person.

Bright Nights at Forest Park Springfield, Massachusetts
Heather M./

Springfield, Massachusetts

Marking its 29th year is Bright Nights at Forest Park, which claims to have hosted more than 7 million visitors since 1995. The event runs until Jan. 1, and the price is $23 per car. But there are $10 Tuesdays. Activities include supper with Santa, carriage and wagon rides, and choral concerts.

Downtown Rochester 1
Downtown Rochester 1 by Teknotika (CC BY-NC-ND)

Rochester, Michigan

This Detroit-area city’s downtown gets almost surreal with its Big, Bright Light Show, which drapes more than 1 million lights over a long stretch of buildings through Jan. 21. 

high-voltage by Tina Vega (CC BY-NC-ND)

St. Paul, Minnesota

It's hard to pick the best of the best local displays, but the holiday lights on York Avenue in St. Paul — with the Schultz Family Lights at 1526 York Ave. at the center — feature numerous yards decorated with Christmas figures and more than 60,000 lights choreographed to music at 91.5 FM, "The Rockin' Rudolph." The households show the lights from 5 to 10 p.m. daily through Dec. 31.

A tunnel of festively lighted Christmas arches decorates a walkway on a small town public square

Cleveland, Mississippi

Now through Dec. 31, come celebrate in this small western Mississippi town with the free 50 Nights of Lights event. Over 1 million lights make Cleveland sparkle and visitors can experience the extravaganza by walking or driving through.

christmas light tunnel

Wentzville, Missouri

Through Dec. 30, you can visit Rotary Park's Holiday Night Lights display in this town northwest of St. Louis. Opportunities for viewing the lights include drive-through, sleigh hayrides, carriage rides, and more. Or, on Dec. 11, you can pay to walk through the display and check out live reindeer along the way. Drive-through admission is $10 for vehicles with up to six passengers and $1 per additional person; walk-through admission is $5.

christmas light display

Billings, Montana

In Billings, Christmas lights are a neighborhood affair as families throughout the city try and outdo one another with their displays. You can find the latest news on the Billings Christmas Lights Facebook page and plan your visit with the map posted here

Holiday Christmas Tree Lights in the park
Kathy Byrd / istockphoto

Kearney, Nebraska

This south-central city will be hosting the Holiday Lights Festival at Yanney Heritage Park. The event is free and runs from Dec. 6-16, showcasing lights in different areas of the park with unique holiday themes.

Glittering Lights, Las Vegas, Nevada
Cheryl L./Yelp

Las Vegas, Nevada

The Strip isn’t the only place in Sin City that glitters this time of year. The annual Glittering Lights show features more than 3 million lights and 500 animated displays. This year, the show at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway runs until Jan. 7. Admission is $25 per car, or get a fast pass and skip the lines for $64. Want to go more than once? A season pass is also available for $129.

Related: 36 Free and Cheap Things to Do in Las Vegas

Gift of Lights, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, New Hampshire

Loudon, New Hampshire

The Gift of Lights at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway gets rave reviews for its elaborate decorations and setting. This is a drive-through light show with more than 1 million lights stretching over 2 miles. The event is in gear through Dec. 31, and admission is $35 per car.

Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Great Adventure, NJ.
Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Great Adventure, NJ. by Joshua Siniscal (CC BY-ND)

Jackson, New Jersey

Six Flags Great Adventure celebrates the holidays with Holiday in the Park, open select days through Jan. 1. The entire park will be decked out in colorful lights and decorations, plus there are holiday games, fire pits for making s'mores. And don't forget the rides! Tickets start at $50.

River of Lights, Albuquerque, New Mexico holiday light exhibit
Victoria P./

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Take a 1.5-mile walk through the River of Lights at Albuquerque's BioPark Botanic Garden and see hundreds of brilliant light sculptures ranging from dinosaurs to Cinderella's pumpkin carriage. River of Lights continues through Dec. 30. Admission $14 for adults and $7 for kids Monday-Thursday; $17 and $9 Friday-Sunday.

Dyker Heights Lights, New York, New York
Vladimir Korostyshevskiy/shutterstock

New York, New York

The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is an icon that Big Apple visitors can enjoy for free, but the outer boroughs have holiday spectacles, too. In Brooklyn, Dyker Heights puts on a neighborhood extravaganza (83rd to 86th streets between 11th and 13th avenues) that inspired a PBS documentary called "Dyker Lights."  

CHRISTMAS TOWN USA McAdenville, North Carolina
CHRISTMAS TOWN USA McAdenville, North Carolina by Kreg Steppe (CC BY-SA)

McAdenville, North Carolina

With a nickname like "Christmas Town USA," McAdenville, a small town outside Charlotte, had better deliver on holiday decor — and it does. This town's massive winter overhaul, begun in 1956, involves 375 lit trees and hundreds of thousands of lights maintained by local volunteers, including most of the area's 650 or so residents. The free display continues through Dec. 26. 

Holiday Lights in Lindenwood Park, Fargo, North Dakota
John M./Yelp

Fargo, North Dakota

The "Holiday Lights in Lindenwood Park" features more than 65 displays along the park’s Roger Maris Drive. Sponsored by a local civic group, the event runs until Dec. 31, with viewing from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Admission is $20 per car or van in advance and $25 at the gate.

Fairview Park, Ohio

Fairview Park, Ohio

Impressive options abound throughout the state, but Seabury Avenue in Fairview Park, outside Cleveland, takes the fruitcake. This street is the epicenter of Christmas cheer, but hundreds of homes throughout the town are expected to be decked out in holiday lights this year.

Downs Family, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Downs Family

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

For the 16th consecutive year, the Downs family will string up miles of Christmas lights at 2900 72nd Ave. SE from 6 p.m. to midnight, weather permitting. The show is synchronized to a playlist that can be downloaded ahead of time.

Keizer Lights Photowalk 1112-21 - 26
Keizer Lights Photowalk 1112-21 - 26 by Sean Fornelli (CC BY-SA)

Keizer, Oregon

The Gubser neighborhood in this town just north of Salem has been putting on the Keizer Miracle of Christmas Lights Display since the 1980s. It involves about 3 miles of lights on homes beginning at 14th Avenue N.E. and Lockhaven Drive.

Miracle on 13th Street
Miracle on 13th Street by Molly Des Jardin (CC BY)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The 1600 block of 13th Street in South Philadelphia, called the Miracle on South 13th Street, has most residents participating in decking out the block with lights, inflatable characters, and all sorts of festive decor from late November and into January.

Lewis Family Christmas Display, Warwick, Rhode Island
Lewis Family

Warwick, Rhode Island

Residents in the Providence area can find pockets of holiday joy throughout the region. In Warwick, the Lewis and Picozzi families both put on exceptionally elaborate displays, with synchronized lighting and music. Both collect donations for charities.

Holiday Festival of Lights, James Island County Park, Charleston, South Carolina
Dan B./Yelp

Charleston, South Carolina

The Holiday Festival of Lights, hosted by James Island County Park, offers visits with Santa, treats and concessions, and rides on the Festival Train. Admission is $15 to $40 per vehicle depending on the day and whether tickets are bought in advance or at the gate.

The cathedral in the distance
The cathedral in the distance by Jerry (CC BY-SA)

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Falls Park on the Big Sioux River may merit a visit any time of year, but the holiday season adds a particular enchantment. Besides hanging more than 350,000 lights and decorating hundreds of trees and landmarks, the park brings in live reindeer and sets the mood with holiday music for car radios at 97.7 FM. Entrance remains free during the Winter Wonderland (through Jan. 7).

Hoover Lights, Tennessee
Hoover Lights

Chapel Hill, Tennessee

Christmas lighting enthusiasts in the Nashville metro area used to unite for massive residential displays in two locations: Sparrow Street in Spring Hill and Old Charlotte Pike in Franklin. In 2019, the two events combined into one massive computerized display, Hoover Lights. Viewing is free, but donations are requested to benefit the nonprofit GraceWorks Ministries.

Related: 50 Best Small Towns to Visit in Winter

Austin Trail of Lights
Austin Trail of Lights by MarkScottAustinTX (CC BY-SA)

Austin, Texas

The Texas capital city offers residents a Trail of Lights, a 1.25-mile drive-through tunnel made of lights; all told, 40 displays of 2 million lights up Dec. 8-23 in Zilker Park. General admission is free some evenings and $8 on others. Premium packages are also available.

Tree of Light Holiday Lights, Draper City Park, Draper City, Utah

Draper City, Utah

Many homes fall far short of putting up 65,000 lights, but Draper City hits that mark on a single tree in its Draper City Park. The Tree of Light Holiday Lights attract people seeking a stunning selfie or landscape shot throughout the holiday season. The lights stay on through the first Sunday in January.

Shelburne Museum Holiday Lights, Shelburne Vermont

Shelburne, Vermont

Winter Lights, put on by the Shelburne Museum, decorates local landmarks like the steamboat Ticonderoga and 1871 lighthouse with thousands of lights through Jan. 7.  Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for kids ages 3-17. Wednesday evening drive throughs are $65 per car. 

Christmas decorations and lights with fresh snow at a house on Stone Heather Drive in the Chantilly Highlands section of Oak Hill, Fairfax County, Virginia
Christmas decorations and lights with fresh snow at a house on Stone Heather Drive in the Chantilly Highlands section of Oak Hill, Fairfax County, Virginia by Famartin (CC BY-SA)

Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Sure, the folks at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. throw up some pretty decent holiday decor. But the residents of the surrounding suburbs give them a run for their money. The website Holly's Tacky Christmas Lights features some of the biggest spectacles, as well as some professional displays, in Fairfax and beyond — the 2023 map is already filled with more options than you can possibly fit into one season.

The Lights of Christmas, Stanwood, Washington
Craig F./Yelp

Stanwood, Washington

Billed as "The Largest Christmas Festival in the Pacific Northwest," The Lights of Christmas is about an hour north of Seattle and takes place on select days through Dec. 30. The drive-through event this year features more than 1 million lights and the chance to wave to Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Admission is $32 per car. 

A tree decorated with warm white Christmas lights on the branches. Holidays concept.
Paolo Paradiso/istockphoto

Bluefield, West Virginia

For a spectacular lights display, visit the drive-through Holiday of Lights at Bluefield City Park from Thanksgiving through Dec. 31. More than 1.2 million lights decorate more than 100 acres of the park. Admission to the Holiday of Lights is free, but the park will accept cash donations.

WPS Garden of Lights, Green Bay Botanical Garden, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Chuck A./Yelp

Madison and Green Bay, Wisconsin

Madison's Olin Park hosts the free "Fantasy in Lights," a 30-year tradition open dusk to dawn through Dec. 31, while the Green Bay Botanical Garden hosts the WPS Garden of Lights, where there are 350,000 lights and 40 nature-themed displays and wagon rides this year. Adult walking tickets range from $12 to $15; wagon ticket rides are $17 to $20 for adults. 

Holiday Lights Tour, Cheyenne, Wyoming
Holiday Lights Trolley