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8 Cities with Holiday Lights and Decorations You Have to See to Believe

Let's just put it this way: Clark Griswold would highly consider moving after seeing these displays.

By Livability on December 2, 2021

Best Holiday Lights

‘Tis the season for communities across America to deck their halls with holiday lights that draw people near and far. Hotels, gardens, zoos and even boat docks get into the Christmas lights act with showy decorations to share the festive spirit. Here are eight cities with holiday light displays that give a wow factor worth a trip:

1. McAdenville, NC: Christmas Town USA

More than 65 years ago the Men’s Club in the small town of McAdenville, NC decorated eight trees around the community center. Today, more than 375 trees up to 90 feet tall are all ablaze with lights and every home goes all out by decorating for Christmas Town USA.

The twinkling display spans nearly 1.5 miles down Main Street and is appreciated by thousands of people each year. This festive fête runs from December 1 to 26 from 5:30 to 10:00 p.m. each evening and admission is free and open to the public.

2. Pine Mountain, GA: Callaway Gardens Fantasy in Lights

Dubbed one of the ‘World’s Top 10 Places to See Holiday Lights’ by National Geographic, Callaway Gardens Fantasy in Lights lives up to the hype. The show transforms the wooded landscape with 8 million sparkling lights depicting beloved Christmas stories and the Snowflake Valley. Guests can drive themselves through for a guided tour or hop on the Jolly Trolley. Admissions range depending on the night and the display runs from November until the beginning of January.

3. Marion, IN: Christmas City Walkway of Lights

With a holiday display spanning more than two miles along the Mississinewa Riverwalk, the Christmas City Walkway of Lights in Marion, IN is one of the oldest and largest light displays in the midwest. The walkway has more than 120 displays and features upwards of 2.5 million lights to get you in the holiday spirit. Tickets are $5 per car.

4. Chicago, IL: Annual BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

A million people travel to see the Annual BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. The lights are as over the top as the festival itself, which includes a nighttime parade of floats, marching bands and musical performers which magically illuminate 1 million lights on the famous avenue’s 200 trees the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Admission is free and the festival can be live-streamed as well.

5. Coeur d’Alene, ID: Annual Coeur d’Alene Resort Holiday Light Show

Rated by Good Morning America as one of America’s top family holiday destinations, the Annual Coeur d’Alene Resort Holiday Light Show is the largest on-the-water holiday light display in the country. The show itself offers a 40-minute Journey to the North Pole cruise to see 255 displays and an animated floating Christmas tree. The event runs from Thanksgiving through the New Year.

6. Colorado Springs, CO: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Electric Safari

The Electric Safari at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is the only place in Colorado Springs where you can enjoy 60 one-of-a-kind light sculptures while simultaneously celebrating the holiday season with your favorite animals. The show celebrates with twinkling trees, animated animal sculptures, fires and a Mountaineer Sky Ride to catch breathtaking views of the city’s Christmas lights. Dates vary for the safari, so be sure to plan ahead.

7. Hershey, PA: Hershey Sweet Lights Holiday Drive-Thru Spectacular

Just when you thought it couldn’t get bigger, better or brighter, meet the Hershey Sweet Lights Holiday Drive-Thru Spectacular. Almost 600 illuminated displays can be admired as you drive through 2 miles of wooded trails, all accompanied by the sounds of the season on a customized radio broadcast. While you’re there take a visit to the Christmas Candyland and see more than 5 million lights and Santa Claus and his reindeer.

8. Newport Beach, CA: Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

For more than 112 years, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is a five-day-long waterborne Christmas light display to feast your eyes upon. The Parade features multimillion-dollar yachts, kayaks and other small boats decorated with animated Christmas scenes accompanied by music and costumed carolers. Boats wind 14 miles around the Newport harbor for spectators viewing pleasure and is hosted by the Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce.

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