On even the coldest of winter nights, the glow of festive lights can help you feel warm. If you’re looking to enjoy some seasonal illuminations this year, the region has a lot to offer. From elaborately lit neighborhoods to glowing gardens, these 10 destinations are home to great holiday light displays and they’re all within a day’s drive.
Capture the magic on camera with these professional holiday photography tips.
Note: Due to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, please check official websites before visiting to check for restrictions or closures.
Bright Nights at Forest Park, Springfield, Mass.
Decked out in around 650,000 lights, this drive-thru holiday light display features 3 miles of twinkling colors, with themes including Seuss Land, inspired by renowned author and Springfield native, Theodor Seuss Geisel, or Dr. Seuss. Dial your radio to a musical simulcast (WELF 100.7 FM) accompanying the ride. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop to get a photo with Santa. This year, check out the live webcam or virtual tour if you can’t make it in person.
Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Few places celebrate the holidays like Dyker Heights. Focused primarily from 11th through 13th avenues and 83rd through 86th streets, the neighborhood’s homes pull out all the stops for their elaborate holiday motifs filled with lights, giant figures, Christmas music, motorized displays and more. The lights usually come on nightly following Thanksgiving and last until the new year. Parking can be tricky, so a drive-by or stroll from the nearest subway station or bus stop might be your best bet.
Use your AAA discount to save 15% on a Christmas lights tour of Dyker Heights with A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours.
New York Botanical Garden GLOW, Bronx, N.Y.
In addition to the garden’s always-impressive annual Holiday Train Show, this year, visitors can attend an all-new outdoor light experience. The NYBG’s landmark landscape and Enid A. Haupt Conservatory will be decorated and aglow with thousands of lights from 5 to 10 p.m. on various dates through Jan. 22. Enjoy the illuminations of GLOW along with ice sculpting, music, roving dancers and more.
Koziar’s Christmas Village, Bernville, Pa.
What started over 70 years ago as a home display at a working dairy farm has become an expansive holiday attraction. Until Jan. 1, drive through the winter wonderland at Koziar’s Christmas Village to explore a mix of holiday displays ranging from Santa’s Post Office to Christmas Beneath the Sea. Model trains add to the sights and visitors are welcome to visit Santa on Santa Claus Lane.
Magic of Lights, various locations
This dazzling drive-through light experience can be found at several locations across the region, including Holmdel, N.J.; Jones Beach, N.Y.; Wallingford, Conn.; and Foxborough, Mass. See holiday scenes and iconic characters and immerse yourself in a tunnel of lights from the comfort of your car.
Christmas Festival of Lights, The National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, Attleboro, Mass.
In operation for over 60 years, the annual Festival of Lights has grown into a display that spreads 350,000 lights across 10 acres. There is no charge to enter, though donations are accepted. The display is lit from 5 to 9 p.m. nightly through Jan. 2. The shrine is also home to an international museum featuring crèches from around the world.
Gift of Lights, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, N.H.
You’ll probably never grab the checkered flag at this track, but you can enjoy a seasonal driving experience during the holidays. The speedway’s annual Gift of Lights provides drivers with a 2.5-mile course including over 500 light displays and 80 holiday scenes. The 130-foot infield entrance and exit tunnels of lights are one highlight, as is the chance to traverse a portion of the track’s road course.
Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y.
There aren’t many sights that symbolize the holiday season as emphatically as the massive tree in Rockefeller Center. After it’s extravagant lighting ceremony in early December, it will stay illuminated through 9 p.m. on Dec. 31. The Rink at Rockefeller Center is a popular way to mark the season. Just up the block, the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park also offers skating, about 100 vendors and it’s own illuminated tree. Get a whole new perspective of the holidays in New York with up to $5 off tickets to the Top of The Rock Observation Deck.
World’s Largest Menorah, Brooklyn, N.Y.
The World’s Largest Menorah, located in Grand Army Plaza, couldn’t be any larger. At 32 feet, it’s the tallest allowed under Jewish law. The massive structure stands so high that a cherry picker is used to light it. During Hanukkah, the menorah lighting is celebrated with music, gifts for children and latkes. Another 32-foot menorah is also lit in Grand Army Plaza in Manhattan, at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 58th Street.
Peace, Love and Lights, Bethel Woods , N.Y.
Visit the historic site of the 1969 Woodstock festival for this drive-through, socially-distant holiday attraction. The light show, totaling just over one mile in length, runs nightly (including all holidays) from 5 to 9 or 10 p.m. through Jan. 2.
Did we miss a destination that is one of your favorites? Tell us in the comments.
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