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- Where to See Christmas Lights Across the Southwest USA
There might not be Christmas snow in Texas but that doesn’t mean people in Texas and the Southwestern U.S. don’t know how to do Christmas lights in a big way. Here’s an updated list of where to find Christmas lights in Texas and the Southwestern United States in 2020, including any Covid-19 changes.
Even though it might seem weird to take in Christmas lights when you’re wearing wearing shorts and flip flops, Texans don’t let the lack of “winter” in “winter wonderland” stop them. Big cities and small towns alike offer opportunities to celebrate the season.
Most of the places on our list open over Thanksgiving weekend and stay open into early 2021, so you have lots of time to enjoy. We’ve also included a selection of our top picks for Christmas light displays around the Southwest U.S.
Where to find Christmas Lights in Texas Updated for 2020
Pandemic or not, there’s a lot of Christmas spirit in Texas!
All of the information on this list of where to find Christmas lights in Texas has been updated and verified for the 2020 holiday season based on available info at time of publication.
That said, we’re living in some really weird and unprecedented times, so please make sure you check each website for the most current information on reservations systems, capacity limits, social distancing and other requirements, such as whether you have to wear a mask.
Most of these Christmas lights display require advanced tickets and/or reservations. Some offer discounts or special days for members. Please enjoy safely!
Know about some awesome Christmas lights in Texas or the Southwest that is not on our list? Please tell us so we can include your favorites when we update this post.
Austin Christmas Lights
If you’re in or near Texas’ capital city, you’ll want to check out the Zilker Park Trail of Lights. More than 2 million twinkling lights in colorful displays adorn the mile-long trail. The 2020 information is pending. See the online calendar for updates.
In the past, the Austin Trail of lights has been open for most of December, with several nights designated as free admission nights. Those nights are typically more crowded.
College Station Christmas Lights
College Station is a small town that’s less than a two-hour drive from both Austin and Houston. It’s about a three hour drive from San Antonio. It might be a small college town but College Station does Christmas lights BIG and it is worth the drive.
College Station boasts the “Largest Christmas Attraction in Texas,” Santa’s Wonderland. It includes horse-drawn carriage and hay rides through the lights. Santa’s Wonderland has generous hours this season, starting November 13 and running through December 30, 2020. If you want to know more about Santa’s Wonderland, check out our Santa’s Wonderland tips. And if you want a dad’s perspective on things NOT to do at Santa’s Wonderland, we’ve got that, too.
Remember what I said about no snow in Texas? Santa’s Wonderland makes a liar out of me because it has real snow! Check out the calendar of events here.
Arlington Christmas Lights
More than 600 LED Christmas lights displays can be seen each holiday season at Arlington’s Texas Motor Speedway’s Gift of Lights. Drive through more than two miles of light displays, with almost 3 million lights, while listening to Christmas music on KLTY. Gift of Lights opens November 26, 2020 and runs through January 3, 2021. No Santa’s Village this year. No bathrooms either, so wait to serve the hot chocolate until you get home! Tickets are $30/car.
Six Flags Over Texas (near Arlington) offers Holiday in the Park. The theme park is decked out with millions of twinkling lights, the Holiday Express Train and the Singing Saps, an animated caroling Christmas Tree Family. Watch the “Majesty of Christmas” show that depicts the Nativity. Little ones can walk through Santa’s Cottage to see the elves building toys. November 21, 2020, through January 3, 2021. Included with park admission.
Dallas Christmas Lights
If you’re looking for free Christmas lights in Dallas, check out the Highland Park neighborhood. This is a private neighborhood with individual homeowners doing their own decorating…although it is obvious many of them hire professionals.
If you want to take your experience up a socially distanced notch, you can hire a carriage to take you through the display of lights. The carriages will be sanitized between uses and hand sanitizer will be provided. A carriage ride through streets of beautifully decorated homes sounds pretty good to me. The only thing that would make it better is hot chocolate, and you can probably arrange that, too.
Please note, it’s BYOB (Bring Your Own Blanket) this year. Blankets will not be provided, so if it’s chilly outside, plan to bring your own. This service runs from November 27 through December 30, 2020, but you can make a reservation online now.
Looking for something to do in nearby Dallas? Check out these free thing to do in Dallas with kids.
Galveston Christmas Lights
Festival of Lights features a mile-long trail of more than 100 lighted holiday scenes, shows, visits from Santa and a “Snow Zone” for kids. November 21-January 2. Festival of Lights looks to be business as usual for 2020. The destination has a crowd calendar you can use to help you gauge when it might be less busy. Prices for all of the attractions range from $20-$30, free to children ages 3 and under.
Houston Christmas Lights
At the Houston Zoo’s Zoo Lights, you’ll see miles of earth-friendly LED lighting illuminating ancient oak trees and decorating the paths through the zoo. Interact with Candy the Zoo Lights Zebra, get a family selfie on a giant ice throne, and take a socially distanced photo with Santa. Stroll through a 125-foot-long Infinity Tunnel of Light, see dragons come to life in the 4-D Enchanted Forest, and experience “snow” in Texas! November 14, 2020-January 10, 2021. Tickets range from $12.90 to $24.55. Children ages 1 and under are free. Buy online — tickets will not be sold at the gate.
Marble Falls Christmas Lights
The Marble Falls Walkway of Lights is one of Texas’ most popular display of Christmas lights. The season kicks off November 20, 2020 with the Light-Up Parade. The 2020 parade will begin at Broadway and Main and end at Yett and Main to allow for social distancing. No candy will be thrown from the floats this year and masks will be required. The Walkway of Lights runs from 6-10pm nightly November 20, 2020-January 2, 2021.
Fredericksburg Christmas Lights
Fredericksburg is in the heart of Texas hill country, west of Austin. The picturesque, German-themed main street is a great place to experience Christmas time. The city of Fredericksburg is still ironing out the details of the traditional spectacular holiday light display; keep abreast of updates via this website.
In addition to holiday lights, Fredericksburg will also offer activities such as outdoor ice skating, a Christmas parade and Santa will fly in on Dec. 19 (to the Gillespie County Airport and not by reindeer, as far as we know).
New Braunfels Christmas Lights
New Braunfels is a charming German town between San Antonio and Austin. This small community is home to Santa’s Ranch, a drive-through display of lights and other fun Christmas decorations. Santa’s Ranch opens November 6, 2020, and runs through January 3, 2021.
I recommend going early or late in the season. Christmas week is very popular and you will wait in line for at least half an hour to enter the ranch. Once you get through the gates, you’re looking at about 30 minutes to drive through. There are very limited opportunities to get out and use the restroom, which might be a problem for families with younger kids. Looking at this a little differently, it’s a great socially distanced option because you do not leave your car.
San Antonio Christmas Lights
The gorgeous San Antonio River Walk transforms for the holidays with more than 100,000 lights. The lights will be on November 27, 2020, through January 2, 2021. The river walk is open daily and free except for November 27. That’s the date of the 2020 Ford Holiday River Parade, which is a ticketed event.
SeaWorld San Antonio and Six Flags Fiesta Texas also have impressive light displays. SeaWorld San Antonio’s Christmas Celebration is the largest lights display in the state, with more than two million twinkling lights. It runs November 21, 2020-January 3, 2021. Included with park admission.
Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Fiesta Texas kicks off November 21, 2020, and runs through January 3, 2021.
Where to See Christmas Lights Across the Southwest USA
We’ve rounded up some 2020 details on holiday lights in the Southwest outside Texas. Please make sure you’re checking current state-to-state travel restrictions before you plan your trip.
Christmas Light Displays in Arizona
Flagstaff Christmas Lights
The North Pole Experience brings Santa’s Workshop to life! Start at the Little America Hotel to see the twinkling light display and catch the Polar Express train to the North Pole. Reservations being taken now for November and December dates. Visit this website to sign up.
Phoenix Christmas Lights
Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix celebrates Las Noches de las Luminarias. It features 8,000 hand-lit luminaria bags, thousands of white twinkle lights and the vibrant sounds of holiday music. Non-member dates are November 27-28 and December 11-13, 17-23 and 26-31.
New this year: Silent Night. On December 21, 2020, the Winter Solstice, There will be no Christmas music playing so visitors can have time for self-reflection, so this probably isn’t the night you want to visit with small children.
Williams Christmas Event
Take a trip on the Polar Express with the Grand Canyon Railway near Williams AZ. Passengers travel to the North Pole, a Christmas village where Santa and his reindeer welcome visitors. This starts November 2, 2020, and runs on select days through January 3, 2021. Visit this website for reservation information. Trains leave at 5:30 and 7:30pm.
Christmas Light Displays in Colorado
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Electric Safari features more than 1 million lights and 85 light sculptures on over 50 acres. Look for warming fires throughout the Zoo for a reprieve from the chill. Some indoor animal exhibits will be open too. Electric Safari is available December 4-6 December 11, 2020-January 1, 2021. Closed on Christmas Eve, December 24.
Denver Christmas Lights
The Denver Botanic Gardens presents Blossoms of Light at its York Street location with more than a million twinkling lights synchronized to music. November 20, 2020-January 3, 2021, 5-9:45pm. Closed November 26. Times entry tickets must be purchased in advance. They won’t be available at the gate. Non-member tickets are $18-$21; children 2 and under are free.
Littleton Christmas Lights
Denver Botanic Gardens also hosts Trail of Lights at its Chatfield Farms location. Take one of two winding paths glistening with lights that illuminate the Colorado countryside. Appropriately, the shorter route goes directly through the children’s play area while an extended path heads to the outside area of the Green Farm Barn and silo before continuing through the children’s area and 1880s homestead.
New for 2020: synchronized music in the children’s play area, a three-sided light tunnel and illuminated antique and model tractors on display. Hot beverages, nuts and kettle corn are available for purchase with cash or credit card. Dates are Fridays-Sundays, November 27 – December 13 and nightly, December 18, 2020 – January 3, 2021. Timed tickets are $10.50-$12.50 for adults; $9 for ages 3-12 and free for children 2 and under.
Christmas Light Displays in New Mexico
Albuquerque Christmas Lights
The ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden in Albuquerque hosts the holiday light show, “The River of Lights.” In past years, it has featured giant sculptures of plants, animals and seasonal themes created by millions of lights. Details for 2020 are forthcoming. Keep track of this website for 2020 dates and hours.
Santa Fe Christmas Lights
The Santa Fe Botanical Garden normally celebrates GLOW on weekends throughout the holiday season. It’s been canceled for 2020.
Christmas Light Displays in Nevada
Las Vegas Christmas Lights
Drive through 2.5 miles of Glittering Lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was named one of 7 Over-The-Top Holiday Light Displays You Gotta See by Huffington Post in 2015 Dates for 2020 are tentatively set for November 13, 2020-January 10, 2021. Prices range from $25 to $85. A portion of each ticket sold is donated to the Speedway Children’s Charities. Cost depends on what category of ticket you purchase, so check the ticket page carefully for blackout dates and restrictions.