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Seeing the dazzle of gorgeous Christmas light displays is an annual ritual for many families — and it’s one that doesn’t have to be on hold for 2020! While wandering through a light display outdoors while sipping a cup of hot chocolate can be socially distanced, driving through Christmas light show with a carful of your pandemic pod besties is the way to stay safe during a pandemic Christmas celebration. Here’s where to see some of the best drive through Christmas light shows in the USA.
The draw of a holiday light show — giant candy canes, gingerbread men, and snowflakes emblazoned in lights, tunnels of lights strung from the trees, Santa Claus in his sleigh — is enough to make me forget how cold I am as I walk through the holiday light displays.
But, for weather wimps like me, there is a better way: drive through Christmas lights displays.
Certainly driving around to see Christmas lights is nothing new. Growing up, we always piled into the car as night fell on Christmas Day to drive around our neighborhood admiring the neighbors’ light-up snowmen, front yard nativity scenes, and Santa and Mrs. Claus presiding over yards full of colorful lights.
These days, drive through Christmas lights means so much more. Expect to see dancing lights choreographed to music, illuminated inflatables, and millions of twinkling lights. While these aren’t new, they are a growing option as the Covid-19 pandemic forces us to avoid crowds.
So brew a thermos full of hot chocolate, turn up the heat in the car, tune in a radio station playing Christmas music and drive off to see one of the best Christmas lights shows in 2020 without ever leaving your car.
Drive Through Christmas Lights in California
Winter Fest OC’s Night of Lights OC is a magical and immersive holiday lights and winter wonderland drive-through experience. December 10, 2020-January 10, 2021 (closed Christmas Eve) at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa.
Drive the mile-long course to see more than one million lights, themed holiday scenery, animated light shows and tunnels while listening to synchronized to music through a car radio or smartphone. Pre-order hot cocoa, cinnamon sugar donuts, and Mom’s Bake Shoppe cookie buckets and brownies when you buy tickets online.
Admission from $39.99 to $59.99.
Drive Through Christmas Lights in Florida
Jax Illuminations is a mile of holiday lights synchronized to holiday music broadcast over your car radio. Come see a MILLION brilliant LED lights that dance, twinkle and sparkle to some of your favorite holiday songs. November 19, 2020-January 2, 2021. Per-car price is $20 or $25 depending on the date; $35 for vans.
Or drive through the Blackhawk Bluff subdivision for free. Located at Girvin Road off of Atlantic Boulevard, the neighborhood is famous for its over-the-top holiday spirit. Get details on this Facebook page.
Drive Through Christmas Lights in Georgia
Head to Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens to see 8 million Christmas lights and a sound show with 15 scenes. This festival of lights was named one of the world’s top 10 by National Geographic Traveler. You can drive your own car through the display or take the Jolly Trolly (mask required). November 20, 2020 – January 4, 2021.
Tickets range from $19.95 to $34.95 for adults and $14.95 to $24.95 for kids ages 3-11; children 2 and under are free. Tickets to the holiday event are included in overnight stays at Callaway Gardens.
Drive Through Christmas Lights in Illinois
Aurora’s Festival of Lights, one of the largest drive through Christmas lights shows in Illinois, is FREE! Expect to see Santa’s Toy Factory, Old Man Winter, elves and reindeer, holiday trains, gigantic snowflakes and beautiful lighted swags on the fence line surrounding the zoo, Phillips Park, 1000 Ray Moses Drive. November 27-December 27, 2020. The Rotary Club of Aurora sponsors the light show. Admission is free (even for buses!), but donations are being accepted online. The money is used to support local area organizations.
New for 2020, Let It Shine converts the Northbrook Court mall parking lot into a fun, drive-through musical light display. Tune your car radio to a certain station and drive along the winding path and watch the lights move to the music on towering trees, lighted tunnels and flashing candy canes. The mouths of the illuminated characters move to sing along with the mood-lifting music – everything from the “Frozen” soundtrack to old-school Christmas tunes. Limited spots are available, so advanced purchase is required. Including taxes and fees, tickets are $34.81 per car on weekdays and $45.06 per car on weekends. Fast passes are available for an additional $15. Tickets can be used for discounts at nearby restaurants and shops. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the NorthShore University HealthSystem Kellogg Cancer Center. Runs Nov. 15-Jan. 9, but closed Christmas Day.
TravelingMom Tip: Let the kids stand up through the sunroof as you go through the lighted tunnels. It makes a cool video!
Drive Through Christmas Lights in Indiana
Indy’s Christmas Nights of Lights provides a half-hour interactive driving experience at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and boasts more than a million lights across dozens of displays. November 13, 2020-January 3, 2021. Enter the fairgrounds at Gate 12 on 42nd Street.
Tickets are $7 per person or $30 per carload. Go before you go — the only facilities are portable toilets located at the entrance.
Drive Through Christmas Lights in Kentucky
Lights Under Louisville is one of those awe-inspiring attractions. Drive through the Christmas lights at MEGA Caverns. It claims to be the world’s only fully underground drive-through holiday lights show.
Plan to spend about 30 minutes driving through the 17 miles of underground passageways to see 3 millions points of light. 6-10 p.m. Monday – Friday, 5-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Nov. 15 2020 – Jan. 4, 2021. $27 per car/truck/minivan.
Drive Through Christmas Lights in Nevada
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, November 13, 2020-January 10, 2021.
Prices range from $25 to $85. Cost depends on what category of ticket you purchase, so check the ticket page carefully for blackout dates and restrictions. A portion of each ticket sold is donated to the Speedway Children’s Charities.
Drive Through Christmas Lights in New York
The drive through Magic of Lights display, November 22, 2020 – January 4, 2021, (closed New Year’s Eve) is naturally socially distanced. Drive your own car through the holiday scenes and characters of the season using the latest LED technology and digital animations in Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh NY.
Buy tickets online for a discounted $25 for a standard vehicle.
It gets cold in upstate New York, but you can stay warm in your car at the drive through Lights on the Lake in Onondaga Lake Park. The annual holiday event is open November 16 – January 10, 2021, from 5-10pm.
The two-mile winter extravaganza includes a radio accompaniment. There is a Land of Oz and Fantasy Forest. Admission is by the carload; $6 or $10 weekdays, $20 on weekends.
Drive Through Christmas Lights in Oklahoma
This small city of 40,000 does Christmas big with the annual Garden of Lights in Honor Heights Park. More than 1 million LED lights grace thousands of azalea bushes, line fountains, spiral upwards to the treetops and cascade down a hillside waterfall.
The Garden of Lights is a drive-through event, but guests can park and stroll among the displays. Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, 5:30-10pm. Cost is $5 per car (Mondays are free) and $10 for buses.
Drive Through Christmas Lights in Oregon
The 28th Annual Winter Wonderland at the Portland International Raceway spans the entire eight miles of the track. See more than 250 colorful set pieces and many fully animated scenes from the comfort of your car at this drive-through holiday lights show. The event takes place November 27, 2020 – January 2, 2021.
Tickets per car start at $20 (online) and $22 at gate. No tire chains or studded snow tires allowed.
Drive Through Christmas Lights in Texas
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.
Drive Through Christmas Lights in Virginia
The 100 Miles of Lights display winds from the Virginia capital city to the Atlantic Ocean from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day. Choose from seven lighted cities with parades of boats and floats, festivals, music and dance, living history, caroling and more. Richmond, Williamsburg, Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach.
Specific event times available for each city. Hankering for a Tacky Lights show? Try Richmond. Lights boat parades? Visit Hampton and Yorktown. Want to walk through a million bulbs? That’s in Norfolk.
Drive Through Christmas Lights in Washington
Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park claims to be the Northwest’s largest drive-through display. Featuring an LED light tunnel, the display includes thousands of lights and nearly 300 figures along the two-mile drive along Spanaway Lake.
November 21, 2020 – January 3, 2021. Prices range from $10-$45 per vehicle. While driving through, tune your car radio to FM 95.3 to hear a selection of special holiday music.