Blake Walsh

15 Best Winter Light Displays Across the US

  • Published 2023/11/19

Winter light displays are a spectacular aspect of the holiday season, transforming cities and towns across the United States into magical winter wonderlands.

These enchanting displays have become a cherished tradition, offering a dazzling array of lights that captivate both the young and the old.

From the sparkling lights of New York City’s Rockefeller Center to the unique desert illuminations in Phoenix, this guide takes you on a journey through the 15 best winter light displays across the US.

Rockefeller Center, New York City, New York

Rockefeller Center's Christmas tree

valerii eidlin /

The Rockefeller Center in New York City is home to one of the most iconic Christmas trees in the world.

Surrounded by thousands of twinkling lights, this majestic tree is a sight to behold.

Visitors can also enjoy ice skating and a variety of festive events throughout the holiday season.

The Miracle on 34th Street, Baltimore, Maryland

Miracle on 34th Street at Baltimore, Maryland

Jon Bilous /

Baltimore’s Miracle on 34th Street is a charming neighborhood light display that has been delighting visitors for decades.

This community-driven spectacle features houses adorned with thousands of lights and quirky decorations.

It’s a testament to the spirit of the local community and a must-visit for those seeking a heartwarming experience.

Trail of Lights, Austin, Texas

Trail of Lights in Austin, Texas

Roschetzky Photography /

Austin’s Trail of Lights is a beloved holiday tradition.

This festive light trail winds through Zilker Park, showcasing a variety of light displays and themes.

It’s a perfect family-friendly event, complete with food trucks, live entertainment, and numerous photo opportunities.

Las Noches de las Luminarias, Phoenix, Arizona

The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix offers a unique twist on holiday lights with Las Noches de las Luminarias.

Visitors can walk through beautifully illuminated trails, enjoy live music, and experience the serene beauty of the desert at night.

Festival of Lights, Riverside, California

Festival of Lights in Riverside

Kit Leong /

Riverside’s Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa is a dazzling display.

The historic hotel is covered in millions of lights, creating a fairytale-like atmosphere.

The festival includes holiday-themed activities, entertainment, and an outdoor ice-skating rink.

ZooLights, Washington, D.C.

ZooLights in Washington, D.C.

S Pakhrin from DC, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., transforms into a magical light display during the holidays.

ZooLights features animal-themed light sculptures, live music performances, and holiday treats.

It’s an enchanting experience for families and animal lovers alike.

WildLights, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Ohio

WildLights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio is a winter wonderland of lights.

The zoo is adorned with a dazzling array of light displays, and visitors can enjoy seasonal attractions, animated light shows, and even meet Santa Claus.

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Georgia

Atlanta's Botanical Garden lights

Rob Hainer /

Atlanta’s Botanical Garden becomes a luminous paradise during the Garden Lights, Holiday Nights event.

The garden features imaginative botanical-themed light displays, making it a unique and enchanting experience for nature lovers.

Tanglewood Festival of Lights, Clemmons, North Carolina

The Tanglewood Festival of Lights in Clemmons is a drive-through light show that offers a spectacular display of twinkling lights and themed displays.

This event is perfect for those who prefer to enjoy holiday lights from the comfort of their car.

Christmas Town USA, McAdenville, North Carolina

Christmas Town USA in McAdenville

digidreamgrafix /

McAdenville, also known as Christmas Town USA, is a small town that goes all out for the holidays.

The entire town is illuminated with festive lights, and visitors can take walking tours to fully immerse themselves in this charming holiday tradition.

Winterfest, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Pigeon Forge’s Winterfest lights up the city with millions of holiday lights.

The display extends throughout the city, complemented by winter activities and events, making it an ideal destination for a comprehensive holiday experience.

The Lights of Christmas, Stanwood, Washington

One of the Pacific Northwest’s largest light displays, The Lights of Christmas in Stanwood, offers a vast array of lights, live entertainment, and food options.

This event is a festive extravaganza, perfect for visitors of all ages.

St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights, St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine's Nights of Lights in St. Augustine, Florida

Tejas Badgujar /

St. Augustine’s historic district is illuminated with three million lights during the Nights of Lights.

This historic city offers a picturesque backdrop to the stunning light displays, with tours available by trolley, horse-drawn carriage, or on foot.

Peacock Lane, Portland, Oregon

Peacock Lane in Portland, Oregon


Portland’s Peacock Lane is a neighborhood tradition where residents decorate their homes with elaborate light displays.

This pedestrian-friendly event allows visitors to stroll down the lane, enjoying the festive atmosphere and intricate light designs.

Holiday Lights on the River, Saluda Shoals Park, South Carolina

Saluda Shoals Park in South Carolina hosts the Holiday Lights on the River, a drive-through light show along the Saluda River.

The event features themed light displays, hayrides, and walking trails, offering a variety of ways to enjoy the holiday lights.

Final Thoughts

From the glimmering lights of urban centers to the heartwarming neighborhood displays, these 15 winter light shows capture the essence of the holiday season.

Each destination offers a unique way to celebrate and enjoy the festive spirit, making them must-visit spots for those seeking the magic of holiday lights.

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