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 lights displays designed to put everyone in a holiday state of mind. Here are some of the best holiday lights in the Northeast U.S. Don’t forget your hat and mittens!

best holiday lights

Franklin Square in Philadelphia lit up for the holidays. Photo: Jeff Fusco for Historic Philadelphia, Inc

Holiday 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 your hat and mittens!

Connecticut: Holiday Light Show

Mystic Seaport offers an interactive holiday light show, Lantern Light Tours. The 70 minute theatrical production runs every 15 minutes, with participants walking through the lantern lit Seaport. The 37th annual production runs on weekends, November 27 – December 20 and starts at 5pm, with multiple shows daily.

Holiday Traditions in Massachusetts

Boston: 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. You can see the Boston Common Holiday Tree Lighting, December 1, 2016 from 5-8pm. Throughout December, enjoy festive lights throughout the Common and Boston Garden. Prudential Tower displays 31 Nights of Lights December 1-31, with a different color nightly representing a local nonprofit. The annual spectacle Blink!returns to Faneuil Hall Marketplace November 20 – January 1, with more than 350,000 low-energy LED lights and recorded music by Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Pops; at the tree lighting November 19, Blue Man Group,  Livingston Taylor, the Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker and The Boston Children’s Chorus perform.

Falmouth: The Falmouth Village Green celebrates the holiday season for a month starting December 3. The day starts with 5K Jingle Jog and kids’ Elf Run; at 7pm, the Lighting of the Falmouth Village Green includes caroling led by the Falmouth Brass Choir and a visit from Santa. On December 4, the 53rd Annual Christmas Parade, one of the largest holiday parades in Southern New England proceeds down the Main Street of Falmouth. Dress even more warmly.

Vintage Christmas in New Hampshire

Portsmouth: 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 December 2 with the 26th Annual Gingerbread House Contest exhibit, running until Friday December 23. It’s indoors and FREE. There is also an annual Candlelight Stroll at Strawbery Banke Museum, December 3, 4, 10, 11, and 16 -18. Early bird planners can purchase discounted tickets by November 30.

Holiday Lights, Lights, Lights in New York

Brooklyn: 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. Go to 83rd thru 86th Street between 11th and 13th Avenues.

best holiday lights

Longwood Gardens holiday lights. Photo: L. Albee for Longwood Gardens

New York City: The 2016 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lights up November 30, with a performance by the Rockettes, 7-9pm. The lights remain lit until January 7. The 17th annual Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square is November 28, with live music including Sharon Jones, Justin Guarini and Brady Rymer. There are also food tastings, ice sculpting and circus performers

North Pole: This town in upstate New York offers the annual Village of Lights display at Santa’s Workshop on December 4, 11, and 18 – 23. It features Christmas lights, caroling, a Nativity Pageant presentation, roasting marshmallows over an open fire and reindeer feeding.

Syracuse: It gets cold in upstate New York, but you can stay warm in your car at the drive through Lights on the Lake. The 27th annual event is open November 17 – January 8, 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, $15 on weekends.

Westchester: The 3rd annual Winter Wonderland  will transform the Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla with over 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 25 and runs through January 2nd, starting at 4pm.

Sweet Holiday Spirit in Pennsylvania

Hershey: Hersehypark 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. The spectacle runs from November 11 to January 1, starting at 5pm daily. Carpooling pays off; admission is per vehicle. Hersheypark Christmas Candylane includes Santa with his reindeer and five roller coasters, open for the holidays.

best holiday lights

York, PA holiday lights. Credit: York County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Philadelphia: 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 10 – December 31, 4-8pm (closed on Christmas Day). The nighttime spectacle is set to music and warming stations, train rides and seasonal food keep everyone happy. Just outside Philly, the Longwood Gardens Christmas Display  runs November 24 – January 8 and features daily concerts and elaborate light displays in the water fountains. Fire pits keep you warm as you stroll outside.

York: Stroll Christmas Magic, a half mile walking trail with nearly 600,000 LED lights, animation and holiday scenes operates from November 25 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.


Historic Holidays in Rhode Island

Bristol: 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 25 – December 31. It kicks off with a holiday marketplace, November 20, 3-6pm.

Did we miss your favorites? Comment below with your suggestions for best holiday lights in the Northeast!

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