From the seaside towns on Connecticut to the historical treasures of Massachusetts all the way to the North Pole (the one in New York), the Northeast United States has a wealth of holiday light displays designed to put everyone in a festive state of mind. TravelingMom with Pets Judy Antell reveals some of the best Christmas lights in the Northeast. Don’t forget your hat and mittens!
Christmas Lights in the Northeast US
Let it snow! Winter is here and so are the holidays. Celebrate the festivities with the best holiday lights in the Northeast U.S. Don’t forget t0 bundle up!
Connecticut: Holiday Light Show
Mystic Seaport offers an interactive holiday light show, Lantern Light Tours. The 90-minute theatrical production runs every 15 minutes, with participants walking through the lantern-lit Seaport. The 39th annual production runs on weekends, November 23 – December 23 and starts at 5pm, with multiple shows daily. Recommended for children over age four.
Holiday Traditions in Massachusetts
Learn about how holiday traditions evolved in Boston on a guided Freedom Trail Historic Holiday Stroll. Guides in 19th century costumes lead the 90-minute tour Thursday-Sunday, November – January. Make reservations at least 24 hours in advance.
The annual spectacle Blink! returns to Faneuil Hall Marketplace November 28 – January 1, with more than 350,000 low-energy LED lights and recorded music by Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Pops. Performances run 4:30 – 10 pm daily.
Highfield Hall & Gardens kicks off the season with Holidays at Highfield, November 23 – December 2. The Falmouth Village Green celebrates the holiday season for a month starting December 7. December 8 festivities include a 5K Jingle Jog and kids’ Elf Run and the lighting of the Falmouth Village Green with caroling by the Falmouth Brass Choir and a visit from Santa. On December 9, the 55th Annual Christmas Parade, one of the largest holiday parades in Southern New England proceeds down the Main Street of Falmouth. Dress even more warmly.
Heritage Museums & Gardens closes for winter, but opens for its annual Garden Aglow. The special event runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from November 23 – December 30, 4:30-8:30pm. Christmas lights brighten the garden. There are also special outdoor activities, carolers, and a Polar Playhouse. A fire pit and indoor holiday displays keep you warm. Buy tickets in advance.
Vintage Christmas in New Hampshire
Celebrate a Vintage Christmas throughout December in this seaport town. The small town celebrates the holiday in a big way, with lights, caroling, Santa in a horse-drawn carriage and a free vintage Christmas trolley through the streets to see the lights. Festivities kick off November 30 with the 28th Annual Gingerbread House Contest exhibit, running until December 22. It’s indoors and FREE. There is also an annual Candlelight Stroll at Strawbery Banke Museum, December 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16 & 22. Buy tickets by December 1 and save money. Warm up with free apple cider.
Holiday Lights, Lights, Lights in New York
In Dyker Heights, light displays go up after Thanksgiving and last until the New Year. The lights are on private homes and the best way to see them is to dress warmly and stroll the streets. And you can bring your dog! Go to 83rd thru 86th Street between 11th and 13th Avenues.
New York City
The 2018 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lights up November 28, with a performance by the Rockettes, 7-9pm. The lights remain lit until January 7, 2019. The 19th annual Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square is November 26, with a tree lighting, led by Judy Collins and singing by Arlo Guthrie. There are also food tastings, ice sculpting and circus performers and music.
This town in upstate New York offers the annual Village of Lights display at Santa’s Workshop on December 2, 9, 16 and 20 – 23. It features Christmas lights, caroling, a Nativity Pageant presentation, marshmallows roasting over an open fire and reindeer feeding.
It gets cold in upstate New York, but you can stay warm in your car at the drive through Lights on the Lake. The 29th annual event is open November 15 – January 6, 2019, from 5-10pm. The two-mile winter extravaganza includes a radio accompaniment. There is a Land of Oz, Fantasy Forest and Victorian Village. Admission is by the car load; $10 weekdays, $20 on weekends. If you prefer to walk, come to the preview Lights on the Lake Stroll, November 13. On November 14, Lights on the Lake has its annual dog walk.
The 5th annual Winter Wonderland will transform the Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla with more than 2.5 million LED lights set to holiday music. There will also be outdoor ice skating, sleigh-rides, a heated indoor food court with beer and wine and holiday vendors. Winter Wonderland opens November 23 at 5pm and runs through December 31st.
Sweet Holiday Spirit in Pennsylvania
Hersheypark brings you the holiday spirit from the warmth of your car. You drive through Sweet Lights, two miles of wooded trails to see almost 600 illuminated, animated displays. There are 4 million lights. The spectacle runs from November 16 to January 1, starting at 5pm. Carpooling pays off; admission is per vehicle. Hersheypark Christmas Candylane includes Santa with his reindeer and five roller coasters, open for the holidays.
The Franklin Square Holiday Festival with Electrical Spectacle: A Holiday Light Show includes a beer garden and holiday shopping marketplace. The free festival runs November 15 – December 31, 4-8pm (closed on Christmas Day). The nighttime spectacle is set to music. Warming stations, train rides and seasonal food keep everyone happy.
Just outside Philly, the Longwood Gardens Christmas Display runs November 22 – January 6, 2019 and features daily concerts and elaborate light displays in the water fountains. Fire pits keep you warm as you stroll outside.
Stroll Christmas Magic, a half mile walking trail with nearly 600,000 LED lights, animation and holiday scenes from November 23 through the end of the year – except December 24 and 25 – at Rocky Ridge County Park in York. Five enclosed, heated buildings on the route feature food stands, a large G-gauge train display, entertainment and Santa Claus. Admission to Christmas Magic on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays is by timed tickets only. Reservations are required: no walk-ins.
Historic Holidays in Rhode Island
Step back in history at Blithewold, with Christmas at Blithewold. The 45-room English-style manor mansion is filled with hand-crafted ornaments and the illuminated gardens and greenhouse add Christmas cheer. Sing carols and warm up with hot cocoa and roasted marshmallows around a roaring bonfire in Blithewold’s Enclosed Garden. November 23 – December 31, 2018. The celebration kicks off with a holiday marketplace, November 18.
Did we miss your favorites? Comment below with your suggestions for best holiday lights in the Northeast!