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The 25 Best Christmas Light Displays + Tours


Holiday lights – whether they be Yule logs or candles – have been around for centuries. In 1880, Thomas Edison strung together a set of electric lights and hung them outside of his laboratory during Christmastime. Two years later, Edison’s friend Edward H. Johnson wound a strand of red, white and blue electric lights around his Christmas tree (the tree even spun!). It took several more decades before such lights were widely and cheaply available.

Nowadays, homes and businesses across the U.S. deck their halls, trees and exteriors with lights, some creating enormous spectacles that draw yearly crowds. To help you decide which to prioritize, U.S. News rounded up the top Christmas light displays across America. Whether you prefer small displays that pack a festive punch or flashy shows full of glitz and glamour, these colorful exhibits are sure to bring you plenty of holiday cheer.

The Top Christmas Lights Displays in the U.S. by Region

(Courtesy of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens)

Price: $19 for adults and $10 for children; tickets must be purchased in advance
Dates: Nov. 18 to Dec. 31

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is thrilling at any time of year, according to previous travelers, but they saved their biggest praise for the facility’s annual Gardens Aglow event. More than 750,000 lights adorn 14 acres in shapes ranging from Christmas trees to round baubles to mushrooms. Lights extend beyond the gardens, too, thanks to the Gardens Aglow Lighting Contest. Communities around Boothbay will create their own displays, and visitors can drive around to see them (and vote for their favorite). Maps will be available to find the displays.

The event is held every Thursday to Sunday between Nov. 18 and Dec. 31, as well as select other days; it’s closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Entry times range from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The property is located in Boothbay, a small town about 60 miles northeast of Portland.

Learn more at the gardens’ website.

Dyker Heights light displays: Brooklyn, New York

Homes with Christmas lights in Dyker Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.

(Getty Images)

Price: Free
Dates: Late November to early January

Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights residents wrap their windows in fairy lights, twine colorful bulbs around the trees and erect wireframe displays atop their roofs come the holidays. And, of course, there are plenty of Santa Claus, nutcracker, snowman and elf figurines. Previous visitors praised the area’s light displays, saying the homes are beautiful and it’s a must-do activity in New York City come Christmastime. Some suggest arriving just after New Year’s to explore with fewer people around.

The Dyker Heights neighborhood sits in southwest Brooklyn; the best displays are typically found between 11th and 13th avenues and from 83rd to 86th streets. Lights go up after Thanksgiving and generally stay lit from 5 to 9 p.m. through New Year’s Eve. The area is free to explore, though tour operators like Dyker Heights Christmas Lights and A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours offer guided trips through Dyker Heights at specific times for a fee. Tickets for tours range from $35 to $75 per person.

Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights: Bronx, New York

Price: Starts at $41.95 for adults and $26.95 for children 3 to 12; tickets must be purchased in advance
Dates: Nov. 17 to Jan. 7

It’s no wonder that, as one of the best zoos in the U.S., the Bronx Zoo puts on a fantastic light show. You’ll see almost 400 lanterns that represent animals from all over the world, including hippopotamuses, bears, penguins, jellyfish and insects, among many other species. New for 2023, lanterns will also take the shape of native New York species like raccoons, great egrets and red foxes. There are also light shows, a kid-favorite train ride, ice carving demonstrations, refreshments and entertainers on stilts.

Visitors say the Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights display is a must-do event while in New York City, though some note it’s an expensive trip. Holiday Lights runs from 3 to 9 p.m. on select days from Nov. 17 to Jan. 7. There are sensory-friendly nights on Dec. 7 and Jan. 5 that will feature fewer crowds, quieter music and adjusted programming. You can opt for a date-specific ticket or more flexible (but pricier) any-night ticket.

Visit the zoo’s website to book tickets.

ZooLights at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo: Washington, D.C.

Archway with lights at Smithsonian’s National Zoo's ZooLights in Washington, D.C.

Skip Brown|Courtesy of Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

Price: $6 per person
Dates: Nov. 24 to Dec. 30

ZooLights at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo is one of the premier events in Washington, D.C., extremely popular among residents and visitors alike. The zoo is decorated to the nines with 500,000-plus colorful LED lights and glowing animal lanterns. Visitors can catch live music performances and sample tasty snacks as they walk through the display and admire the lights. The pathways to view the lights are wheelchair-accessible but situated on a hill with a bit of an incline – something for disabled travelers and families with young kids and strollers to keep in mind. The event runs on select days from Nov. 24 to Dec. 30 (mostly on weekends) and is open from 5 p.m. until 8 or 9 p.m., depending on the day.

Overall, many love checking out ZooLights each year, but some warn that it can get crowded and note that the animals are not out. Though it was free in years past, ZooLights now charges a small entry fee to help offset the cost of the event, while concession and parking proceeds will contribute to animal care. There is a parking fee of $30; if you wish to visit by Metro, the nearest stops are Cleveland Park or Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan on the Red Line.

For more information, head to the National Zoo website.

Koziar’s Christmas Village: Bernville, Pennsylvania

Aerial of Koziar's Christmas Village in Bernville, Pennsylvania.

(Courtesy of Koziar’s Christmas Village)

Price: Starts at $13 for adults and $11 for children 4 to 10
Dates: Nov. 4 to Jan. 1

For a Christmas-themed stroll, visit Koziar’s Christmas Village, which sits about 45 miles southwest of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Not only will you see homes, trees, fences and more strung up with lights and wireframe figures, but you’ll also have the chance for photos with Santa, displays featuring a toymaker and more. Travelers agree the lights are gorgeous, but some complained about the traffic (especially on Saturdays) and felt the attractions did not justify the ticket price.

Lights are on from Nov. 4 to Jan. 1, though Koziar’s is only open on weekends up until Thanksgiving. Specific hours vary depending on the month and day, but you can generally visit from 5 or 6 p.m. to 9 or 10 p.m. Note that on designated prime nights, each ticket is $4 extra than the standard pricing.

Visit Koziar’s website for more information.

Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens: Wheaton, Maryland

Dragon light display at Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland.

(Courtesy of Montgomery Parks, M-NCPPC)

Price: $10 for ages 5 and older; tickets must be purchased online in advance
Dates: Nov. 17 to Dec. 31

If you’re looking to stretch your legs before settling in for a winter’s nap, head to Brookside Gardens. A half-mile walking path winds through the 50-acre garden decked out in shimmering holiday lights. Displays keep to the garden theme, showcasing plants, flowers and insects. New features for 2023 include a winter scene and “falling snow” in the Rose Garden.

Travelers say the display is nice but note you won’t need much time to explore. The display runs nearly every night between Nov. 17 and Dec. 31, except for Nov. 20 to 23, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. You can visit from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. The gardens sit less than 15 miles north of Washington, D.C.

Visit the gardens’ website to learn more.

Path through lighted trees at Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Resort & Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia.

(Courtesy of Callaway Resort & Gardens)

Price: Starts at $24.95 for adults and $19.95 for children 3 to 11
Dates: Nov. 17 to Jan. 1

Callaway Resort & Gardens’ Fantasy in Lights continually wows travelers, who recommend staying at least one night at the resort to extend the fun. The gardens, which sit about 80 miles southwest of Atlanta and are one of the top things to do in Georgia, offer a walk-through experience with light tunnels and nutcrackers as well as a 7-mile light show to drive through. The event features the Callaway Christmas Village, where you can meet Santa or grab some refreshments, and glowing trees surround the property’s lake.

Tickets include both the walk-through experience as well as the option to either drive your own vehicle or take the Jolly Trolley. Pricing varies depending on the day you go. You’ll select a specific evening time slot when booking your trip through the lights show, but tickets also grant access to the Christmas Village, which is open daily at 4 p.m., and include day admission to Callaway Gardens prior to your designated time.

To learn more, visit the Callaway Resort & Gardens website.

Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights: Various cities in Louisiana

Fireworks over Cane River Lake at Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights.

Brad Ferguson|Courtesy of Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights

Price: Free at most displays, though some charge fees
Dates: Mid-November to early January

Along the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights, you’ll have the chance to see light collections in Alexandria and Pineville; Minden; Monroe and West Monroe; Natchitoches; Logansport; Ruston; and Shreveport and Bossier City. Each destination features its own special offerings. For example, Natchitoches is known for its lights that illuminate the downtown area and for hosting a plethora of events, including its annual Christmas Festival, weekly fireworks shows, and tours of historic and highly decorated homes (for a fee). Meanwhile, Minden is a paradise for nutcracker enthusiasts.

Visitors praise all of the different decorations along the Holiday Trail of Lights, particularly those in Natchitoches. Most displays are free to visit, though extra charges may apply for attending events or buying treats. You’ll need to purchase a $10 armband to attend the Natchitoches Christmas Festival on most Saturdays, for example. You’ll find the cities mostly in northern Louisiana, off of state highways 49 or 20. Displays usually go up in mid-November and are taken down shortly after New Year’s Day.

Visit the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights website for full details.

Nights of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens: Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

Green Garden at Nights of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.

(Courtesy of Brookgreen Gardens)

Price: $35 for adults and $17 for children 4 to 12; tickets must be purchased in advance
Dates: Nov. 25 to Dec. 31

Brookgreen Gardens’ name for its wintertime event does not do it justice: The Nights of a Thousand Candles display actually includes more than 2,700 real candles in addition to strung electric lights. Make it a full evening at the gardens by enjoying dinner at one of the on-site dining venues, such as a food truck, before grabbing a hot drink at a beverage station to keep you warm as you stroll. (Note: Harvest Restaurant requires advance reservations.) There is also live music every night.

Multiple visitors applauded the Brookgreen Gardens display and particularly enjoyed seeing the oak trees aglow with cascading lights. The installation is typically open 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday during the period of Nov. 25 to Dec. 31 (though it’s closed between Dec. 18 and 26). The gardens sit less than 20 miles south of Myrtle Beach in Murrells Inlet.

For additional information, head to the Brookgreen Gardens website.

Nights of Lights: St. Augustine, Florida

Pathway to building covered in lights at Nights of Lights in St. Augustine, Florida.

(Courtesy of FloridasHistoricCoast.com)

Price: Free
Dates: Nov. 18 to Jan. 28

More than 3 million lights illuminate St. Augustine’s historic district in Florida, including must-visit sights like the Lightner Museum and St. George Street. If you’d rather explore with a guide, you can sign up for a tour of the lights with a local company like Old Town Trolley Tours or the Red Train Tours from Ripley’s. Once you’ve seen the lights, admire the Villa Zorayda Museum’s holiday decor or watch the daytime Christmas Parade on Dec. 2.

Previous visitors say this is a terrific time to visit St. Augustine because the lights are spectacular. Perusing Nights of Lights is free for all – though tours and any goodies you wish to purchase from downtown vendors will cost you. The lights are viewable every night from Nov. 18 through Jan. 28.

Head to the Florida’s Historic Coast website for more details.

Magic Christmas in Lights at Bellingrath Gardens and Home: Theodore, Alabama

Flower, dragon and bird lights at Magic Christmas in Lights at Bellingrath Gardens and Home in Theodore, Alabama.

(Courtesy of Bellingrath Gardens and Home)

Price: Combined gardens and home tour tickets cost $27 for adults, $17 for children 5 to 12, and $1 for ages 4 and younger
Dates: Nov. 24 to Jan. 3

Bellingrath Gardens and Home sits along the banks of the Mobile River in Theodore, Alabama, about 25 miles south of Mobile. The venue’s Magic Christmas in Lights event spans 65 acres and features light displays handcrafted by staff members. After visitors walk the outdoor grounds, they can see the Bellingrath Home outfitted in its finest holiday decor on a guided tour.

Reviewers say the displays are stunning and highly recommend taking a tour of the home, led by interesting and friendly guides. Others warn you may encounter long traffic lines to access the display. Magic Christmas in Lights glows nightly from Nov. 24 through Jan. 3 (though it’s closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1); you can visit from 5 to 9 p.m. If you don’t plan to visit the home, choose the cheaper ticket option that only includes access to the gardens. You can purchase tickets online and on-site.

For more information, go to the Bellingrath Gardens and Home website.

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at Atlanta Botanical Garden: Atlanta

Strings of lights around tree trunks at Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Jason Getz|Courtesy of Atlanta Botanical Garden

Price: Starts at $27.95 for adults and $24.95 for children 3 to 12; tickets should be purchased online in advance
Dates: Nov. 18 to Jan. 14

You’ll find double the joy at the Atlanta Botanical Garden‘s holiday spectacle. Garden Lights, Holiday Nights showcases traditional holiday cheer such as lights strung up to form Christmas trees and strands dangling from tree branches like icicles. The event also features a 144-foot skynet by Patrick Shearn of Poetic Kinetics as well as a sculpture of the White Rabbit from “Alice in Wonderland,” both of which were part of previous garden exhibitions. There’s a new addition to the exhibit crafted by Cédric Le Borgne as well.

Eventgoers will find several places to snag refreshments as well as a s’mores station. Previous travelers said the entire presentation is lovely and a truly immersive experience. You can view the exhibits nightly from Nov. 18 through Jan. 14 from 5 to 11 p.m. Ticket prices vary by day; there are also ticket options with certain premium benefits or flexible rebooking.

Visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden website to plan your visit and purchase tickets.

Pigeon Forge Winterfest: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Building covered in lights that spell out "Pigeon Forge" at Pigeon Forge Winterfest.

(Courtesy of Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism)

Around 5 million holiday lights bedazzle Pigeon Forge – and for a much longer stretch of time than similar displays in other destinations across America. Pigeon Forge Winterfest showcases illuminated features throughout the town, including on many of its top attractions, which remain lit from mid-November to mid-February. Dollywood, in particular, earns rave reviews from its guests for its massive Christmas lights exhibition and family-friendly holiday shows (though you should expect plenty of crowds).

If you’d rather stay in your warm car while checking out the area’s twinkling lights, drive along the Pigeon Forge Parkway for a festive spectacle or check out Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland at Soaky Mountain Waterpark. Be sure to leave room in your schedule for one or two Pigeon Forge Winterfest events – parades, train rides and shopping experiences are just a few options – in Pigeon Forge or nearby Gatlinburg. There are no specific tickets or set hours for Pigeon Forge Winterfest; it’ll vary by what events and experiences you choose.

Visit the Pigeon Forge Winterfest website for full details.

Christmas Town USA: McAdenville, North Carolina

Price: Free
Dates: Dec. 1 to 26

Though you should be prepared to contend with other revelers, visitors say Christmas Town USA should be experienced at least once. This North Carolina town sits less than 20 miles from Charlotte. Since 1956, homes in McAdenville have gone all out with wreaths, lights, tree trimmings, figurines and more to celebrate the season.

On Dec. 1 you can attend the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, which takes place by the neighborhood’s lake, or stop by on Dec. 14 for the Yule Log Ceremony. Lights are up from Dec. 1 to 26 from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Christmas Town recommends visiting Monday to Thursday, as traffic over the weekends is high. You can also walk the route instead, but keep in mind it is 1.3 miles.

For more information, visit the official website.

Aerial of Austin Trail of Lights.

(Courtesy of Austin Trail of Lights)

Price: Many nights are free; general admission starts at $8 on other nights
Dates: Dec. 8 to 23

The Austin Trail of Lights, hosted in Austin‘s Zilker Metropolitan Park, is a holiday extravaganza. The trail glistens with more than 2 million bulbs. As you weave your way around the park, you’ll pass through tunnels and catch glimpses of holiday must-sees like Santa’s home and workshop. There are 70-plus displays, not to mention 90 trees wrapped in twinkling lights. Plan to walk about 2.5 miles in total.

Reviewers say the lights and displays are incredible but warn of heavy crowds and long wait times. The Austin Trail of Lights runs from Dec. 8 through 23 but is closed on Mondays. With a general admission ticket, visit any time from 7 to 10 p.m. On select nights, you can explore Trail of Lights for free; tickets at other times can range from $8 for general admission up to $95, with the most expensive tickets offering special perks and experiences. Parking costs extra.

Visit the Austin Trail of Lights website for more information and to purchase tickets.

River of Lights at ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Dinosaur light display at ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden's River of Lights in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

(Courtesy of River of Lights: New Mexico BioPark Society)

Price: Starts at $14 for adults and $7 for children 3 to 12; tickets must be purchased in advance
Dates: Nov. 25 to Dec. 30

Past visitors to River of Lights in Albuquerque heartily encourage others to make a stop as part of their holiday itineraries. Each year, River of Lights takes over ABQ BioPark‘s Botanic Garden, allowing visitors to walk among wireframe unicorns, dinosaurs, plants and more. Depending on the day you visit, you could hear music from local bands and choirs. On select evenings there’s a special event with snacks and the opportunity to meet Santa Claus. These events have additional fees and different options for families or adults 18 and older.

The event runs nightly from 5 to 10 p.m. between Nov. 25 and Dec. 30, but it’s closed for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Tickets cost slightly more from Friday to Sunday depending on what day you visit. Timed ticket entry is required to visit the River of Lights, so you must purchase your tickets online in advance to select your day and time slot.

Learn more at the official River of Lights website.

World of Illumination at Tempe Diablo Stadium: Tempe, Arizona

Price: Tickets start at $39.99 per car and must be purchased online in advance
Dates: Nov. 15 to Dec. 31

Take to the stars this holiday season in Tempe, Arizona, about 10 miles east of Phoenix. As you drive through World of Illumination, you’ll see bright stars, rocket ships, asteroids, and Santa and his elves as they prepare for takeoff. Travelers say the event is a memorable experience, though some wished it lasted longer as it only takes 20 to 30 minutes to drive through.

The experience welcomes visitors from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31. It is typically closed Mondays, except for Dec. 18 and 25. You can visit from 6 to 10 p.m., though World of Illumination says hours may be extended if lines are long. This event can also be found in several other cities, including Las Vegas and Salt Lake City.

Visit the World of Illumination website to learn more and buy tickets.

Colorful trees at Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois.

(Courtesy of The Morton Arboretum)

Price: Starts at $16 for adults and $10.50 for children 3 and older
Dates: Nov. 18 to Jan. 6

Sitting about 25 miles west of the Millennium and Grant parks in Chicago is The Morton Arboretum. Beginning in mid-November, the arboretum decks out 50 acres with lights as music plays in the background. After walking the mile-long path – which is fully accessible for visitors with limited mobility – get a snack at the on-site refreshment tents.

Attendees 18 and older can extend the fun with late-night light displays synchronized to music at 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 8, 15, 22 and 29. Travelers say the trek is well worth it. If you’re not a member, tickets – which should be purchased in advance to ensure a spot and get the best possible price – range from $16 up to $39 per adult, depending on the day and time you visit. Illumination runs from Nov. 18 to Jan. 6, with a handful of days it’s not open.

Visit the arboretum’s website for more details.

An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City: Branson, Missouri

An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City in Midtown, Branson, Missouri.

(Courtesy of Silver Dollar City)

Price: One-day tickets start at $89 for adults and $79 for children 4 to 11
Dates: Nov. 4 to Dec. 30

Branson, Missouri, is well known for its entertainment industry, and its Old Time Christmas is no exception. The Silver Dollar City amusement park robes itself in 6.5 million lights and puts on live shows, such as “The Living Nativity” and Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas Light Parade, that are suitable for the whole family. There are also plenty of festive treats, shopping and rides to keep you entertained. Routine visitors to this Branson spectacle praise the festivities but warn of long lines and thick crowds. Food and drinks are not included in ticket prices.

Visit the park’s website for more details.

Blossoms of Light at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

(Courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)

Price: $25 for adults at Blossoms of Light or $16 for adults at Trail of Lights; tickets must be reserved online in advance
Dates: Late November to early January

Denver Botanic Gardens hosts two separate holiday events: Blossoms of Light at its York Street location near downtown Denver and Trail of Lights at its Chatfield Farms outpost in Littleton, which sits about 20 miles south of the city. At Blossoms of Light, visitors walk through the gardens to see trees and brush aglow in a kaleidoscope of colors. Meanwhile, Trail of Lights’ path takes patrons to a children’s play area and through illuminated tunnels. Antique tractors (also lit up) are also on display.

Paths at both locations are accessible, but the venue notes that the walkways may be icy and visitors should exercise caution if using a wheelchair or stroller. Previous viewers loved the displays, especially Blossoms of Light, which they described as a stunning spot for a Colorado date night.

A separate ticket is required for each event. Denver Botanic Gardens members, children, students and seniors receive reduced or waived admissions, depending on age and the event. Both displays open in late November and end in early January. Blossoms of Light is open between 4:30 and 9 p.m., while Trail of Lights welcomes visitors from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Snacks and refreshments are sold on-site.

Visit the Denver Botanic Gardens website for more information.

Zoo Lights at Oregon Zoo: Portland, Oregon

Penguins in lights reflected in a fountain during Zoo Lights at the Oregon Zoo.

(Courtesy of Oregon Zoo)

Price: Tickets range from $12 to $26 per person and must be purchased online before your visit
Dates: Nov. 19 to Jan. 7

As you might expect, Oregon Zoo‘s Zoo Lights presentation depicts all kinds of critters who call the property home. Throughout the event, you’ll see lit figurines that resemble everything from bears to gators to swans; you can even spot Bigfoot. Past visitors said the lights are incredible and that the event is a great family outing in Portland. This event will be a walk-through experience only in 2023, unlike previous years. Visit Nov. 17 or 18 for Brew Lights: a 21-and-older event that pairs lights with samples of local beers.

Timed tickets must be purchased online before you visit; popular nights will be the most expensive. Visitors can view the Zoo Lights display from Nov. 19 through Jan. 7 (though it closes on select dates), with entry times from about 4:30 to 8 p.m. The Zoo Lights Sensory Friendly Night will be held on Nov. 20. Refreshments are available on-site.

Learn more about Zoo Lights by visiting the Oregon Zoo website.

Enchanted Forest of Light at Descanso Gardens: Flintridge, California

Enchanted Forest of Light at Descanso Gardens in Flintridge, California.

(Courtesy of Descanso Gardens)

Price: Starts at $35 for adults and $25 for children; tickets must be purchased online in advance
Dates: Nov. 19 to Jan. 7

No matter the time of year, travelers agree you’re in for a treat at Descanso Gardens (about 15 miles north of downtown Los Angeles), but many say its holiday light display should not be missed. You’ll wander through its brilliantly lit Ancient Forest – complete with ginkgo and redwood trees – as well as fields of color-changing, flower-shaped lights. The Main Lawn will feature a stained glass village.

Descanso Gardens welcomes visitors for the display from 5:30 to 10 p.m. daily from Nov. 19 to Jan. 7. It closes on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Ticket prices vary depending on the day of your visit. Children younger than 2 can enter for free but still require a ticket.

Visit the gardens’ website for full details.

Glittering Lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway: Las Vegas

Car driving through illuminated tunnel at Glitter Lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

(Courtesy of Glittering Lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway)

Price: $39 per vehicle for regular admission
Dates: Nov. 9 to Jan. 7

The Strip isn’t the only place to see lights in Las Vegas come November. Every year, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway (about 15 miles northeast of The Strip) decks out its facility with more than 5 million lights. Although the drive-thru event is located at a track known for hosting auto racing events, Glittering Lights encourages you to drive slowly so you can enjoy as much of the spectacle as possible and snap plenty of photos.

Previous travelers raved about the event’s displays and were impressed with the sheer number of lights featured. However, others felt the visit was a tad expensive. Visitors can catch Glittering Lights nightly from Nov. 9 through Jan. 7 from 4:30 to 9 or 10 p.m., depending on the day. Ticket types and prices vary, with options for add-ons or a Fast Pass. If you don’t want to drive, you can take the Santa Tram on select nights.

Purchase tickets and learn more about the event by visiting the Glittering Lights website.

Winter Garden aGlow at Idaho Botanical Garden: Boise, Idaho

Gate and trees in lights at Idaho Botanical Garden's Winter Garden aGlow.

(Courtesy of Idaho Botanical Garden)

Price: $18 for adults and $14 for children 4 to 12; tickets must be purchased in advance
Dates: Nov. 23 to Dec. 31

Previous visitors said Winter Garden aGlow is one of the best Christmas light displays available in the Boise area, if not the best they’ve ever seen anywhere. The Idaho Botanical Garden‘s annual holiday event takes up the entire complex. The path winds visitors past Santa’s cottage and through the gardens. Parkgoers can enjoy new sights such as a candy cane forest, a gingerbread village and a kid-sized gingerbread house. The garden also sells snacks and warm drinks on-site to keep you extra cozy during your walk.

You can also hit the Snow Globe Bar – another 2023 addition – for festive beverages and music Thursday to Saturday (or Friday to Sunday, in the last two weeks of December). Local choirs will also be performing on select evenings. The display is viewable Wednesday through Sunday from 6 to 9 p.m. between Nov. 23 and Dec. 31.

Find out more at the Idaho Botanical Garden website.

Village of Lights: Christmastown: Leavenworth, Washington

Downtown buildings with lights at Village of Lights: Christmastown in Leavenworth, Washington.

(Courtesy of Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce)

Price: Free
Dates: Nov. 24 to Dec. 24

In the 1960s, Leavenworth, Washington, underwent a townwide renovation to recreate itself as a Bavarian-style village. As part of this remodel, the town put on festivals to draw tourists, and the most popular is Village of Lights: Christmastown. Each year, more than 500,000 lights adorn town buildings to create a spectacle even Santa would envy. Throughout December, you can expect a variety of festive events like Christmas carolers, live music performances, and visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus. At the Festhalle venue, you’ll find everything from gingerbread houses to gift-wrapping services to holiday snacks.

If you can’t make it for Christmastime, visit in January during the Winter Karneval to see ice carvings and fireworks displays or take part in wintertime sports. It’s free to wander around town, but you’ll likely want some spending money for the quaint shops and local eateries.

Visit Leavenworth’s Chamber of Commerce website for more information.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Marisa Méndez is a Christmas enthusiast who grew up visiting drive-thru light displays across the Midwest and South. As an adult, she has indulged at holiday pop-up restaurants and bars, explored the lights (and Macy’s window displays) in New York City and visited the National Zoo’s ZooLights (twice). Each year, no matter where she lives, Méndez spends several evenings walking or driving around local neighborhoods to see displays. This season, she plans to do a Tacky Lights tour in Richmond, Virginia.

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