Don’t you just love it when the holiday season begins and neighborhoods all over start to twinkle and sparkle with hundreds of tastefully strung lights and holiday displays? If so, you may want to consider planning your holiday vacations and weekend getaways around some of the most fabulous Christmas light festivals in the United States. Here are a few of the most popular.
10. Fantasy of Lights – Georgia
In Pine Mountain, Georgia you’ll find the amazing Fantasy of Lights display. The lights are strung in the midst of the Callaway Gardens of Pine Mountain and are on display from November 14th through December 30th. The Fantasy of Lights focuses on creating a series of themed displays instead of simply throwing a bunch of individual decorations around the garden. You and your children (of all ages) will enjoy touring the gardens while taking in the sights and sounds of the holiday season.
9. Winterfest of Lights – Maryland
Held in Ocean City, Maryland each year, the Winterfest of Lights is one of the most charming Christmas light festivals you’ll find on the east coast. Every scene, culminating weeks of work and thousands of lights, has a holiday beach theme of some kind – including surfing Santa’s and decked out mermaids. The festival runs from November 20th through January 1st.
8. Bridgewater Festival of Lights – Massachusetts
The Bridgewater Festival of Lights started out as a small personal display put up by Dale and Cindy Higgins. Over the years it has turned into one of the largest attractions in the Bridgewater area. It takes months for an entire crew to put up and take down the display but the end result is well worth the effort. Visit this festival for a chance to walk through one of the most creative displays of lights before meeting Santa or sipping on a cup of hot chocolate.
7. Holiday Trail of Lights – Louisiana and Texas
A trip down the Holiday Trail of Lights is an incredible experience if you have the time to dedicate to it. Following this creative trail of holiday lights will take you through two six cities spread throughout two states. Visit Natchitoches, Louisiana; Marshall, Texas; and Kilgore, Texas – amongst others. You’ll have the opportunity to see Christmas plays while enjoying a taste of the south during the holiday season.
6. ZooLights at the National Zoo – Washington, DC
Why not head towards Washington, DC for an incredible holiday experience with your favorite animal friends. ZooLights is held in Rock Creek Park, is sponsored by the National Zoo, and runs from December 4th through January 2nd (closed on December 24th, 25th, and 31st). You’ll see dozens of amazing animal themed light displays, ice sculptures, and incredible holiday exhibits.
5. Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights – Washington, DC
Why not book a Washington, DC hotel and make a trip out of visiting the capital to see the holiday lights? The Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights will take place on December 5th as a myriad of beautifully decorated boats glide down the Potomac. The event will start with a parade at the Alexandria waterfront and will end on Maine Avenue in Washington.
4. 18th Annual Christmas Light Festival – Alabama
Montgomery, Alabama residents will be hosting their 18th Annual Christmas Light Festival this year, running from December 3rd through December 6th. The event, which draws the attention of visitors from all over the state, is held in The Montgomery Zoo and features dozens of ornate, animal-themed holiday displays. Visit early to tour the zoo by train; otherwise you can explore the zoo by foot before having your picture taken with Santa.
3. Smoky Mountain Winterfest – Tennessee
The Smoky Mountain Winterfest is yet another gorgeous display of holiday cheer set throughout the Gatlinburg, Sevierville, and Pigeon Forge areas of Tennessee. The festival is huge and spans not just through the holiday season but through most of the winter. Running from November 6th through February 28th, the festival includes hayrides, dances, holiday light displays, and an incredible chili cook-off.
2. Winter Festival of Lights – West Virginia
Held in Wheeling, West Virginia, the Winter Festival of Lights originally started in Oglebay and then spread throughout Wheeling. This year the festival will celebrate its 25th year as it lights up more than 125 acres of property at the Oglebay Resort & Conference Center. Viewing the entire display is best done by car as you’ll have to travel about three miles in order to take in all there is to see. The festival will run from November 13th through January 3rd.
1. Silver Dollar City – Missouri
The Silver Dollar City festival, held in Branson, Missouri, runs from November 1st through December 30th. The Gifts of Christmas Holiday Light Parade will pass through the city twice each night, something you’ll want to stop and watch at least once in between trips to the area theme park, to see Santa, or to sit down at a holiday feast.
Grab your winter coat, gloves, scarves, and hats! The weather may be cold but the spirit of the holiday season will keep you warm as you saunter through some of the most gorgeous Christmas light displays in America. Enjoy!