It’s that time of year to bundle up, pack a thermos of cocoa and watch little eyes go saucer-sized at these super sized holiday lights displays. Holiday lights help to set the mood for a merry holiday season and we’ve rounded up the best ones to see in the USA and around the world. But first read our 5 tips for making the most of your holiday lights experience!

Where to see the best holiday lights around the world and travel tips for making sure it's fun for everyone in the family!

Planning the Perfect Holiday Lights Family Outing

Few things can warm up a winter night and raise the level of holiday cheer quite like a brilliant holiday lights display. From New York to Hawaii, South Dakota to Texas, London to Sydney, towns around the world are planning extravagant holiday lights displays this year. We’ve got the roundups that will tell you where to see holiday lights displays and celebrations around the world. But first we help you plan the perfect holiday lights experience with your family.

Holiday lights are the perfect family outing this holiday season.

We share 5 easy tips to achieving the perfect family lights outing. Photo Collage: Nasreen StumpPlanning the Perfect Family Outing

Select the right type of light display.

When you’re planning your holiday outing, keep in mind that there are many different types of holiday light displays. Selecting the right type of event for your family is key to the success of your trip. For toddlers and preschoolers with short attention spans events at the Zoo or a Christmas-themed light festival with activities will minimize meltdowns. Elementary-aged kids can sit for a little longer at illuminated boat parades and participate in trails that wind through numerous towns. Multigenerational families will enjoy events like Christmas markets that offer a little something for everyone.

The lights at Santa's Wonderland get really creative. Christmas armadillo anyone?

The lights at Santa’s Wonderland get really creative. Christmas armadillo anyone? Photo by Nasreen Stump / Road Warrior TravelingMom

Dress and pack appropriately. 

Nothing kills a happy outing like a toddler who decides she’s freezing two minutes into the excursion. Dress the family in layers. Even in the warmest climates the temperature will dip in the evening when the lights come on. Being prepared is key. Other things to throw in a bag? Snacks, phone chargers, a blanket for hayrides and a thermos of cocoa if you’re feeling festive.

Review safety procedures. 

No, we don’t mean how to make the quickest exit to the car. Lights come on at night and in the dark amongst the twinkle of millions of tiny bulbs makes it easy for a little one to dart away quickly. On the way to the light festival, remind preschoolers what to do if they get lost and who they can ask for help. With older kids, set a meeting spot. Line the kids up for a quick photo before heading into the event so you know what they are wearing should the worst happen. In all likelihood, your visit will go off without a hitch but being prepared is always good!

Try something new! 

Maybe you always visit the same living Nativity or drive the same stretch of the 100-mile holiday lights fest. With so many unique light experiences out there, maybe it’s time to seek out something different. From underground caverns of lights to giant ice sculptures to a Three Kings Parade or even some free things to do in your city.

Plan, plan, plan.

We love to wing it here at TravelingMom and be spontaneous. But with so many holiday light festivals and events there are tickets to buy ahead of time and things to research. Reading tipts from folks who have been there can make a huge difference, especially when you know the best ways to avoid crowds and maximize your time. If you’ll be traveling to reach your lights destination be sure to read up on how to avoid common holiday travel mistakes and if you’re crashing with family, be sure to be a perfect houseguest.

Chicago's annual holiday lights parade. Photo by Adam Alexander

Chicago’s annual holiday lights parade. Photo by Adam Alexander

Holiday Lights Details

Holiday Lights Displays Around the World

Holiday Lights Displays in the Northeast U.S.

Holiday Lights Displays in the Southeast U.S.

Holiday Lights Displays in the Midwest U.S.

Holiday Lights Displays in Texas and the Southwest U.S.

Holiday Lights Displays in California, Hawaii and the Northwest U.S.