It’s that magical time of year again, the time when hot chocolate is the drink of choice, candy canes hang upon every imaginable surface, and houses and businesses light up at night with the most dazzling designs of lights that reflect the Christmas spirit within their brilliant bulbs. If the same light displays in your city every year have you craving something bigger, better, or brighter, use this comprehensive list of what we think are they very best Christmas light displays across the United States. These destinations are the best places to take your family, friends, or group to see some of the jolliest displays of lights, annual winter festivals, and uplifting Christmas spirits around!
The Osborne Family Spectacle - Lake Buena Vista, Florida - What first began as a small 1,000 light display at Jenning Osborne’s house in Little Rock in 1986, Arkansas, quickly turned into a three million light display built for his daughter. Locals complained about the display and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it be shut down, which actually allowed the Osborne’s to move their massive display to Lake Buena Vista at Disney Hollywood Studios. Come see the over five million lights and 10 miles of rope lighting (that’s 30 miles of extension cords!) that make Disney even more magical than before.
Smithsonian National Zoo Lights - Washington D.C - Zoo Lights in Washington D.C. puts on a popular annual display of over 500,000 LEDs throughout their winter wonderland of zoo exhibits and holiday decorations. Here you will see decadent decorations sitting side by side with nocturnal animals and solar-powered attractions likethe Speedwell Carousel. Warm up in the Small Mammal House or Great Ape House while here as you take in all the gorgeous lights around you!
Silver Dollar City - Branson, Missouri - Silver Dollar City has been the premier Old Time Christmas Festival for the Ozark Mountain area since 1960, attracting hundreds of thousands of guests to its spirit-filled streets annually. Here you will see over five million lights and over 1,000 decorated trees, as well as a famed five-story special effects Christmas Tree with over 350,000 LED lights that synchronize with music during a show that features over 100 changes per second. You will also be able to enjoy nightly parades and live music performances nightly during the holiday season.
Blossoms of Light - Denver, Colorado - Denver’s Botanic Gardens are seasonal home to some of the best Christmas light displays in the state, in particular the Blossoms of Light display. Here you will find a half mile path through 24 acres of gorgeous gardens, complete with thousands of colorful lights and animations. You will have the opportunity to see the displays light up the Ponderosa Pines, cottonwoods, and many native western plants as you take in all the holiday cheer you can!
Santa Claus House - North Pole, Alaska - This small suburb of Fairbanks, Alaska, was named such to attract a local toy company to set up shop in their town, but after failing that task quickly turned itself into Alaska’s premier holiday stop. North Pole is home to a popular six week Christmas on Ice festival, a festival full of lights and intricate carved ice sculptures alongside outdoor activities and local food competitions and holiday retail. Enjoy sliding on the ice slides, tasting reindeer chili, or just taking in all the dazzling lights under the even more dazzling Alaska Northern Lights.
Legendary Lights - Clifton Mill, Ohio - What you think is going to be a minor rural light display synchronized to Christmas music in Clifton, Ohio, comes to life in a thrilling way suddenly as you see 3.5 million lights burst with color. The historic mill, gorge, riverbanks, bridges, and trees here are covered in lights and you will have the opportunity to see the famed 100-foot waterfall of lights. There is an outdoor mini Christmas Village, Santa Claus museum, and historic workshop toy collection!
Smoky Mountain Winterfest - Pigeon Forge, Tennessee - The Smoky Mountains are gorgeous enough in the winter on their own, but the surrounding communities make it even better during the holidays by putting on what they call Winterfest. During this large winter festival you will see over five million lights lighting up Pigeon Forge and over four million lights at Dollywood theme park, as well as a highly popular parade that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors per year.