You’ll find the best holiday lights in the US in these 13 towns

Nov 26, 2020

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There are Christmas lights, and there are Christmas lights.

You know the ones: You can’t drive by without saying “whoa” and slowing down your car to take in the scene. In fact, you may have gone out of your way to drive and see them in the first place.

Well, these Christmas lights put those to shame.

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite Christmas installations from around the country to get you into the holiday spirit. No matter what part of the country you’re in, there’s likely something for you here — and if not, it sounds like it’s time for a road trip.

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Glow Holiday in Minnesota

GLOW Holiday is one of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit this season. New to Minnesota’s State Fairgrounds — between St. Paul and Minneapolis — you’ll experience a one-mile drive-thru with a dozen stops featuring more than a million holiday lights, illuminated trees, icicle and art installations — plus a festive gingerbread house.

Plan on spending about 40 minutes and when you are done, you can always visit the sELFie Plaza and the State Fair Food Court. Tickets cost $46 per car and each night of GLOW benefits a community charity working to better our world during the season of giving.

Make sure to catch it before it closes on Jan. 3, 2021.


Magic Christmas in Lights in Theodore, Alabama

Celebrating their 25th year, nothing rivals the Magic Christmas in Lights you’ll see at Bellingrath Gardens and Home. Throughout the 65-acre garden estate, you’ll be able to stroll through dazzling light displays featuring more than 1,100 set pieces, 3 million lights and 15 scenes.

The lights will turn on right after Thanksgiving on Nov. 27 and will run through Dec. 31, 2020 (closed Christmas Day). Timed tickets are available between 5 and 9 p.m. and cost anywhere from $8 to $25.

If you are on the Gulf Coast, this display is guaranteed to get everyone into the holiday spirit!

Night of Lights in St. Augustine, Florida

It may not snow in Florida, but the Night of Lights sure does make it feel like Christmastime. Every evening through Jan. 31, 2021, visit the Plaza de la Constitución and the Bridge of Lions to see one of National Geographic’s top 10 holiday light displays. There are even live music performances in the plaza during weekends and holidays. It’s free to everyone and sure to please children and adults of all ages. Better yet, you don’t even need tickets to see it. You can tour by trolley, train, boat — or even do a wine and carriage tour or luxury golf cart.

Lights of Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, New York

Move over, Rockefeller Christmas tree. Some of the best Christmas lights you’ll find in the Big Apple are in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn — specifically from 11th Avenue to 13th Avenue and between 83rd and 86th streets. About an hour from Midtown Manhattan, these massive, professionally done light displays shine brighter than the top of the Chrysler Building. In fact, some of them are expected to cost more than $20,000.

The lights start the weekend after Thanksgiving, but the best displays are usually on the weekends. It is recommended to go during the evening as well, from 5 to 9 p.m.

The Dyker Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. (Photo by Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
The Dyker Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. (Photo by Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Hershey Park’s Sweet Lights in Hershey, Pennsylvania

What’s sweeter than chocolate? Not much, but if we had to guess, we’d say something that has to do with chocolate and the holiday season — and at Hershey Park‘s Sweet Lights, you’ll get just that. Here, you can take a drive through two miles of wooded trails as you enjoy nearly 600 animated and illuminated displays. Tickets start at $22.15 for a single car. Times vary by day but generally run from 5 p.m. to as late as 10 p.m. You’ll want to check out the schedule here first.

Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights in Wheeling, West Virginia

The Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights in Wheeling, West Virginia dates all the way back to 1985 and currently stands as one of the nation’s largest holiday light shows. In fact, it’s so popular it attracts more than one million visitors a year! The festival features 300 acres of twinkling lights over a six-mile drive, plus 90 lighted attractions made up of more than 1 million energy-efficient LED lights. It gets better: You can now experience it all in 3D with the aptly-named “Sleigh Bans.” The festival runs Nov. 5 through Jan. 5, 2021, and is free to the public, although they suggest a donation of $25 per car.

Oglebay's Winter Festival of Lights. (Photo by Oglebay/Facebook)
Oglebay’s Winter Festival of Lights. (Photo by Oglebay/Facebook)

Christmastown USA in McAdenville, North Carolina

A town called “Christmastown“? You’ve got our attention. McAdenville, North Carolina is celebrating its 65th year of well, celebrations. In fact, it’s frequently nominated as one of the best holiday light displays in the nation. Although some events will be cancelled due to COVID-19, Christmas Town USA is still happening in 2020. In normal years, you’ll find more than 250 evergreen trees covered with more than 500,000 red and green lights; 160 decorated homes; and seasonal music at its historic McAden Mills Bell Tower. It’s free and open to the public, and you can walk or drive through as many times as you’d like. You can visit each night from Dec. 1 through Dec. 26, 2020, between 5:30 and 10 p.m.

Christmas Town USA. (Photo courtesy fo Steve Rankin/mcadenville-Christmas Town)
Christmas Town USA. (Photo by Steve Rankin/mcadenville-Christmas Town)

Glittering Lights in Las Vegas, Nevada

Glittering Lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a Christmas tradition — and it’s not just because of the millions of twinkling lights. This drive-through light show also hosts different initiatives to support local charities, churches and schools.

Speedway Children’s Charities in particular receives a portion of each ticket sold. According to the site, “Glittering Lights and the PJ5K make up the largest portion of money the charity grants each year to 50 plus children’s charities in Southern Nevada.” We love a holiday tradition that also gives back to the community. Tickets start at $25 per car; you can view more information here.

An Old Time Christmas in Branson, Missouri

An Old Time Christmas, at the Silver Dollar City theme park in Branson, is a tried-and-true fan favorite. Here, you’ll find an eight-story Christmas tree display, 6.5-million twinkling lights and 30+ live holiday shows daily on outdoor stages. Pricing is not cheap though as adult tickets start at $72 plus tax. Just note, though, that Silver Dollar City’s Christmas in the City runs Nov. 7 through Dec. 30, 2020, but is closed many many Mondays and Tuesdays.

An Old Time Christas at Silver Dollar City. (Photo courtesy of Silver Dollar City)
An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City. (Photo by Silver Dollar City)

Holiday Festival of Lights in Charleston, South Carolina

Find another spirited festival that’s open nightly in Charleston, South Carolina. In past years you’d be able to park your car and explore, but this year due to COVID-19, you’ll be required to stay in your vehicle. They are still committed to making this year as special as ever, where you’ll still see millions of lights and many surprises along the way. Admission starts at $20 per vehicle. It’s open from 5:30 p.m. until 10 p.m through Dec. 31, 2020.

Christmas Village in Baltimore, Maryland

If you can’t make it to one of Germany’s famous Christmas markets this year, don’t worry. The aptly named Christmas Village in Baltimore is the next best thing — in fact, it’s even modeled after the famous Christkindl Market in Nuremberg. It features 50 vendors selling authentic European food, ornaments and arts and crafts from all over the world. There’s also plenty of shopping to do, with international holiday gifts, ornaments, jewelry and arts and crafts up for sale. You’ll want to go sooner rather than later, though: It only runs through Dec. 24.

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at Atlanta Botanical Garden

At Garden Lights, Holiday Nights, you’ll find thousands of lights spread out across 30 acres of gardens. Yes, it’s even more magical than you’re imagining. It’s all part of the Nature’s Wonders exhibit, the largest curtain of synchronized light and sound in the world. You can also visit the Skylights Lounge where you’ll find several larger-than-life plants from Imaginary Worlds: Alice’s WonderlandWith a restaurant on-site, this is truly a great way to spend a date night or family outing.

Due to reduced-capacity, tickets are extremely limited, so you’ll want to purchase your timed ticket sooner than later. The exhibition runs nightly through Jan. 16, 2021, from 5 to 11 p.m. Tickets start at $24.95 for adults and $21.95 for children. The event runs nightly through Jan. 11, 2021.

Christmas Boat Parade in Newport Beach, California

Southern California may not be getting a White Christmas anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean they’re not getting in the holiday spirit. From Dec. 16 to Dec. 20, 2020, you’ll want to catch a glimpse of the 112th Christmas Boat Parade, which will start and finish at the top of Lido Isle at approximately 6:30 p.m. each night. Over a million people come out to watch the decorated boats, yachts, kayaks and canoes. The best part? It’s totally free, although you’ll want to give yourself some extra time for travel and parking.

Featured photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images

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