The magic of the holiday season kicks off with glimmering lights and charming displays. Christmas calls for the emergence of spectacular light shows. Some of the lights extravaganzas on the list have been a long-standing tradition.
Experience the magic of the holidays in New York City. The city transforms into a winter wonderland. Take photos by the famous Rockefeller Christmas tree, go ice-skating across the Rockefeller Center Skating Rink, admire the incredible Christmas window displays, and don’t miss your chance to see Santa at Macy’s New York. Some of the best lights displays in the city are in Dyker Heights in Brooklyn. Residents work hard to maintain their reputation every year.
Yes, you can actually visit the “North Pole” this Christmas. Its motto is “Where the spirit of Christmas lives year ‘round.’” This small Alaskan city is home to the Santa Claus House where children’s letters are received and answered. Visitors enjoy admiring the unique lit up ice sculptures, and taking photos with the World’s Largest Santa, standing at nearly 50ft tall.
Head to the world’s largest après ski town for Christmas fun. If you’re looking for holiday lights, look no further than Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo, the Denver Botanic Gardens annual Blossoms of Light display, and the Denver Parade of Lights. Also make sure that you attend “The Nutcracker” Ballet, ride the Holiday Carousel at the Denver Pavilions and go ice skating on Evergreen Lake.
People may look to L.A. as an escape from the cold lured by the breezy palm trees, but locals don’t forget about Christmas just because there is no snow. Just drive down Altadena Rd for a mile; it becomes blanketed in lights each holiday as it transforms into Christmas Tree Lane. If you want to see pomp and spectacle, head to Beverly Hills. Visit the L.A. Zoo to see reindeer and sit for a photo with Santa. Stunning displays you will see include elephant statues animated with projection mapping, a light tunnel and cheerful interpretations of L.A. landmarks.
The American home of Santa Claus takes Christmas very seriously. The small town of about 2,500 people has a local post office that has been sending letters to kids “from Santa” for over a century. Dubbed “America’s Christmas Hometown,” it offers a lot to locals and visitors. Book a package at Santa’s Lodge, a pass to Santa Claus Land of Lights, an access card to chat with an elf on the Northpole Network at Santa’s Candy Castle.
For over the top Christmas lights shows you have to go to Chicago. Start with visiting Chriskindlmarket at Millennium Park and try some authentic German food. The stunning tree, 69-foot Norway Spruce, at the center of it all is enthralling. For more gorgeous lights head to Lincoln Park Zoo or Brookfield Zoo’s “Holiday Magic.” Keep it simple, but also magical, and walk through the lights at Morton Arboretum. Make time to visit Navy Pier for some standard winter fun such as ice skating, rides on the Ferris wheel, and to see 400 lighted fir trees.
You will be right to expect a big show in Music City. Head to Opryland Hotel for some of the most amazing Christmas lights displays in Nashville. The two million bulbs shining brightly illuminating the stunning decorations are mesmerizing. Outside is just as gorgeous. Hop on a horse-drawn carriage for a nice ride around town. Stop by Honky Tonk Row for glowing signs and more lights.
Downtown Richmond has lit up for the holidays. Grand Illumination will be held Friday, December 1. The Tacky Lights Tour offers exactly what the name implies - enormously tacky colorful displays. For the best home to visit, check the Richmond Times-Dispatch periodically. For a different experience and if you’re really serious about witnessing the unique displays book a limo tours of the biggest neighborhood attractions. For more lights and serenity, head to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.
The ABQ BioPark’s River of Lights is the reason to go to this city during the holiday season. Enjoy the magic of millions of twinkling lights and more than 500 dazzling holiday displays. This is New Mexico's largest walk-through light show. River of Lights was named one of "The 15 Most Spectacular Holiday Light Displays in the U.S." by MSN in November 2016. Take the Polar Bear Express at night to go on a journey to meet Santa while experiencing the glow of River of Lights.
After Austin (maybe), San Antonio is the place to be come Christmastime. The lights, and experience, are simply unmatched. People begin decorating way before Thanksgiving even. The holiday spirit of the season shines bright day and night. SeaWorld San Antonio is decking the halls this Christmas with eight million lights—the largest light display in Texas. Visitors can even meet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
You haven’t seen magic until you visit the Temple Square in December. The 35 acres completely transform the day after Thanksgiving every year, when the stunning Christmas lights are lit, awesome decorations are hung and several nativities are placed on the grounds for the first time. Free concerts and performances are taken to a whole new level.
The Chickasha Festival of Light has been known as one of the top 10 holiday light shows in the U.S. and features more than 3.5 million twinkling lights, according to TravelOK. Drive through Shannon Springs Park and gaze in wonder at over 100 alluring light scenes, animated displays and even a computer animated light show synchronized to famous holiday tunes.
The Glittering Lights Show has entertained more than 2.2 million people over the past 15 years. The completely LED 2.5-mile glittering course with sounds and vibrant colors is open until January 7. More than 3 million lights and about 500 animated exhibitions will dazzle you. The display has been on the lists of best annual events by USA Today, best places to see Christmas lights by CNN Travel, and over the top holiday displays by Huffington Post.
The Bentleyville Tour of Lights is America’s largest free walk through lighting display. Stoll under the glimmer of 4 million lights in a 20-acre park set on the shores of Lake Superior. Take a photo with Rudolph, visit Santa, drink delicious hot cocoa and roast marshmallows. The Tour of Lights continues through December 26.
Go to the Crossroads Village & Huckleberry Railroad, a massive display that features more than 600,000 lights and a spectacular moving decorated locomotive. Make time to see the 60-foot spruce adorned in twinkling lights at Campus Martius Park downtown. Take the kids to The Detroit Zoo for its annual “Wild Lights” show with illuminated trees, buildings, and animal sculptures.