Christmas is definitely the most wonderful time of the year! Whether you’re spending Christmas in Europe or the US, there’s something about the cold weather and the sight of colorful lights that makes us all giddy. You’ll also find elaborate displays across the street, lively markets, and beautiful outdoor skating rinks. But for those who want to admire millions of lights at a comfortable pace, there are drive thru Christmas lights.
Convenient and family-friendly, drive-thru routes like Christmas in Color are also perfect for road trips and if you want to see millions of lights without the strenuous walking. Furthermore, this is one of the best and socially distant ways to celebrate Christmas since you don’t have to get out of your car to admire the scenery.
If you’re looking for Christmas lights drive-thru routes, look no further! Here’s the rundown on where to find them in America.
1. The Lights of Christmas
Where: Stanwood, Washington
If you’re looking for day trips from Seattle this holiday season, check out Stanwood’s Christmas lights show. The Lights of Christmas boast over a million lights showcasing a light tunnel, life-size Nativity Scene, and other holiday classics. Tune in to the car radio and enjoy traditional Christmas music. Then, pair your scenic drive with fresh mini donuts, popcorn, and a warm coffee or hot chocolate. At the end of your drive, stop by the gift shop and take home novelty items, trinkets, and even Christmas ornaments.
2. Christmas in Color
Where: Various locations
Christmas in Color is a magical event held in locations like Salt Lake County Fairgrounds in Utah and Bandimere Speedway in Colorado. Whichever location you choose, you will enjoy millions of wonderful illuminations. Lively holiday carols also accompany the dancing lights and giant candy canes, creating a colorful spectacle everyone will enjoy. Best of all, a part of the proceeds from each show is donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This non-profit organization helps children with critical illnesses by granting their wishes.
3. Holiday Festival of Lights
Where: Charleston, South Carolina
From mid-November to the end of the year, James Island in Charleston is a must-visit, particularly for its drive thru Christmas lights. The Holiday Festival of Lights is a three-mile lakeside drive with over two million lights and jaw-dropping displays. The light displays and figures also extend to the lakeside, creating an idyllic reflection in the water. In addition to the drive-through lights, tourists can step out of their cars, explore the stalls, and join the festivities.
4. Glittering Lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas’ famous lights aren’t just found at casinos and at Fremont Street! Find millions of dazzling lights along the 2.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the holiday season. Split into several fun-themed sections, journey through a visual spectacle of illuminated sea creatures, race cars, and even dinosaurs! Staying true to the spirit of giving, proceeds from the drive-thru lights show go to different charities and organizations. Not only are you able to experience Vegas’ famous Yuletide lights show, but you’re also helping the less fortunate.
7. Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Where: Brooklyn, New York
Driving through Dyker Heights on Christmas is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn! The residential area transforms into a winter wonderland with a larger-than-life Santa Claus, inflatable snowmen, and millions of twinkling lights. Every house is simply a head-turner and you’ll never run out of photo spots! However, since there are plenty of pedestrians, driving around can be tedious. Nonetheless, the sight of Dyker Heights filled with brilliant decorations is worth it.
8. The Great Christmas Light Show
Where: North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Every year, thousands of tourists and locals head to North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex for a leisurely drive surrounded by millions of lights. The two-mile road is decked with holiday decorations, over 500 light displays, and even animated figures and holiday scenes. After driving through, stop by Santa’s Village for a break and have a cup of hot chocolate and s’mores. You can also hop on the Santa’s Express Train for a different perspective of the lights!
9. Gardens Aglow
Where: Boothbay, Maine
Gardens Aglow combines the beauty of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens with the twinkling Christmas lights. While it started as a walk-thru in 2014, it has cleverly transformed into a drive-thru this year for a safer way to enjoy the lights. It has over 500,000 lights wrapped around bushes, trees, and other structures that give it an ethereal glow. Find reindeers, snowmen, and sleighs spread around the garden as you drive through. But the holiday drive doesn’t end there! Check out the residential and business properties competing at the Community Lighting Contest. You can also cast your vote for the winner via text.
10. Magic of Lights
Where: Various locations
The Magic of Lights is one of the much-anticipated light shows all over the country. Some locations include Jones Beach in New York, Daytona International Speedway in Florida, and Little Elm in Texas. Pass through twinkling light tunnels and marvel at the digital displays along the route. Moreover, some locations also offer family-friendly extras along the way. For example, kids can write letters to Santa Claus and drop them off at the makeshift North Pole at the end of Candy Cane Lane. In Florida, you can also take a commemorative photo of your car against the light displays.
11. Tanglewood Festival Of Lights
Where: Clemmons, North Carolina
Tanglewood Park’s lush hills transform into an illuminated winter wonderland from November. The Festival of Lights allows visitors to admire the gorgeous Christmas lights from their car or via a hayride for an additional fee. Drive through four miles with over 180 interactive musical displays, with original music created by the UNC School of the Arts Music Technology students. Make sure to tune your car radio to sync to holiday music for a merry sound trip! Don’t forget to stop by the Gift Village and do some last-minute holiday shopping or enjoy sweets at S’moresville. Attracting over 250,000 visitors annually, this is one of the best drive-through Christmas lights displays in the country.
12. Journey Borealis
Where: Hamilton, Ohio
Journey Borealis is the oldest and most popular tradition in Pyramid Hill. Since launching in 1999, the event has raised funds and collaborated with local artists and organizations. The 2.5-mile Journey Borealis takes you through a million LED lights and eye-catching art installations. This year, it also boasts more new sections to discover, such as the Candy Cane Forest and Starry Night. You can also download an app via the website that lets you play music as you drive through the lights show!
13. Holiday Light Show at Shady Brook Farm
Where: Yardley, Pennsylvania
Shady Brook Farm in Yardley is famous for its seasonal events such as the Holiday Light Show. From November, parts of the farm turn into the perfect holiday destination with three million drive thru Christmas lights. The light show features many whimsical displays and classic holiday characters that are sure to delight families. Visitors can also see the colorful lights while riding an open-air wagon for a traditional Christmas feel. Then, cap off the night with s’mores, hot chocolate, and other locally-made beverages.
14. Holiday Lights Festival
Where: Omaha, Nebraska
Have the most festive holiday cheer at the winter lights festival in Omaha! The Holiday Lights Festival is a multi-day event with fun activities and breathtaking sights. The Christmas displays scatter across the Old Market, its surrounding areas, and around North and South Omaha which makes for a scenic drive. Roll down your windows and listen to holiday music as you drive past streets decked in bright lights. The festival also extends until January so you can ring in the new year complete with a dazzling fireworks show on New Year’s Eve!
15. Lights Under Louisville
Where: Louisville, Kentucky
Lights Under Louisville is one of the most unique drive thru Christmas lights in the US. After all, it prides itself on being the only underground light show worldwide, held at the Louisville Mega Cavern. The half-hour ride takes you through hundreds of winter illuminations made up of over four million lights. If you’re looking for a unique way to enjoy the holiday lights, this drive-thru Christmas wonderland is one of the best things to do in Louisville!
16. Fantasy Lights
Where: Spanaway, Washington
If you’re traveling in the Pacific Northwest, don’t miss the Fantasy Lights show in Spanaway Park. It showcases more than 300 light displays that span two miles throughout the roads and around Spanaway Lake. Fantasy Lights is also popular for its eclectic displays with special effects. You’ll marvel at the splendid animation of bears flying kites, penguins sliding down an igloo, and Santa Claus and Rudolph sailing a tall ship. Make sure to tune your car radio to their special channel for a complete festive experience!
17. Trail of Lights
Where: Austin, Texas
The Trail of Lights at Zilker Park in Austin is the city’s longest-running holiday tradition. Originally known as the Yule Fest, the drive-thru lights show welcomes more than a hundred thousand guests every year. It displays more than two million lights, brightly illuminated Christmas trees, animated displays, and several lighted tunnels. Along your drive, you’ll see the famous Zilker Christmas Tree, a 155-foot tall moonlight tower decked with thousands of lights.
18. Winter Wonderland Portland
Where: Portland, Oregon
Seeing the whimsical lights of Winter Wonderland is one of the best things to do in Portland during the holidays. Hailed as the largest drive thru lights show in the Northwest, it spans across the Portland Raceway. Find over 250 vibrant light displays inspired by the classic Christmas carol, the Twelve Days of Christmas. Drive through the rainbow light tunnel and don’t miss the playful interpretations of the beloved holiday song. Find three hens perched on the Eiffel Tower, four birds perched on a telephone, and seven swans swimming on a fountain.
19. Hershey Sweet Lights
Where: Hershey, Pennsylvania
Fans of Hershey’s (or simply just chocolate, really!) will love this one. This two-mile drive thru Christmas lights has over 600 animated light displays along a wooden trail. Sit back and enjoy the breathtaking illuminations within the comforts of your car. There are different areas, each having its own theme based on Christmas songs, stories, and more! Furthermore, complete your Yuletide visit to Hersheypark Christmas Candylane for a perfectly sweet end to your Christmas.
20. Holiday Lights at the Beach
Where: Virginia Beach, Virginia
Find nautical and adventure-themed light displays at Holiday Lights at Virginia Beach! Drive through the Virginia Beach Boardwalk and see thousands of Christmas lights along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Don’t miss the fishes swimming along the archways, lobsters playing musical instruments, and Santa fishing on the sea! Along with the spectacular Christmas light display and the 40-foot tall Christmas tree, traditional holiday music complete your scenic drive. You can also find tributes to the Armed Forces community throughout the display.
Enjoy a Safe Christmas With Drive-Thru Christmas Lights
Watching the Christmas lights show on a car is one of the best holiday traditions. They allow you to see and watch entertaining light shows without leaving the comfort of your car. As we are now living in the “new normal” brought by the COVID pandemic, drive-thru holiday lights are also one of the safest and socially distant holiday activities. You can roll your windows down, take photos of the scenery, and soak up the festive atmosphere. It is also a welcome change of pace from the rush of holiday shopping or skiing down the slopes.
If you’re looking for holiday activities or even road trip ideas, drive thru Christmas lights are a must!