The 35 Best Small Towns for Christmas Lights
Some of America’s quaintest towns take the holiday spirit to a whole other level, going to great lengths to transform the ordinary into extraordinary. From coast-to-coast, here are some of the best Christmas lights small towns in America have to offer.
Just because the weather here is gorgeous in December, it doesn’t mean that Christmas should be any less festive. Honolulu residents love their holiday lights, and it shows. Honolulu’s massive 50-foot tree is the highlight, but the city also celebrates with block parties, Keiki rides, and a parade. Next, head to East Honolulu to find Mariners Village 2‘s Candy Cane Lane—a path of twinkling lights that lead to Santa, his reindeer, a penguin, and more. While you’re in paradise, don’t miss the best beaches in Hawaii to visit in your lifetime.
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Never heard of this tiny mountain town? Its holiday-lights display ought to put it on the map. Gatlinburg hosts a Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade and a Trolley Ride of Lights, in which you take a trolley through downtown and East Parkway to view all the wonderful lighting displays while sipping hot cocoa. During the parade, floats are decorated with LED lights, balloons, and holiday characters. This year, actress Alyvia Alyn Lind, who portrayed Dolly Parton in the 2015 special Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors, will be the Grand Marshal. The holidays are all fun and games, of course, until your neighbors won’t take down their Christmas decorations.
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It may not feel like Christmas in Florida due to the heat, but the town of Naples goes all out when it comes to holiday decorations. Some neighborhoods do themes (snowflakes, candy canes, snowmen, etc.), while others go for gold with the entire kitchen sink. The most famous street in the area is Windsor Way, which is definitely worth a visit. Residents coat their roofs with holiday displays, display scenes from Christmas movies, hand-carve Grinch characters, and more. Christmas is a full-time job in Naples. Here are some more of the best destinations to visit for a warm Christmas.
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Raleigh, North Carolina
They do lights so well here, they have multiple tours to show them off. We love the Griswold Lights & Sights trolley tour, which takes you through downtown Raleigh and then out of town to see the brightest lights in Wake County. If you don’t have time for this two-hour tour, grab the Santa Express for a trolley ride through downtown with Santa. You’ll get to see the area’s holiday highlights and pose with the big guy himself. If you’re doing your own lights this year, make sure you follow these holiday safety rules.
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Cape May, New Jersey
If you’ve ever wanted to visit a Victorian seaside town that looks like it’s straight out of a Dickens novel, then Cape May is the place to go. Under the twinkling lights, people tell Victorian ghost stories that are actually quite scary, the town hosts multiple tree-lighting ceremonies, and you can take holiday-themed trolley rides to really soak it all in and embrace the season. Want more? These theme parks go all-out for the holidays.
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Prescott describes itself as “Arizona’s Christmas city.” That’s because they go all out for the holiday, with a holiday light parade, a separate Christmas parade, a lighting ceremony, a holiday music night, and more. There’s even a gingerbread village display. Essentially, anything that can be covered in fairy lights is decorated in fairy lights in Prescott. BYO sunglasses. Thinking about traveling to see the lights? These are the best and worst airports for holiday travel.
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Located in Santa Barbara’s wine country, Solvang is a beautiful Danish town that sparkles during the holiday season. The main road in downtown, called Copenhagen Drive, turns its shops into Christmas displays, with lit up trees decorated in a representation of each store’s offerings outside their front doors. At night, just strolling down the street will prove a pleasant experience, with every inch of building and tree lit up. The conjoining streets are sure not to disappoint with their displays and lights as well. Be sure to check out the annual Julefest (Yule-Fest) in December. From the Tree-Lighting Ceremony to the packed parade, you’ll have the opportunity to listen to live music, watch the arrival of Santa Claus, and eat delicious treats. Don’t miss these Christmas traditions from around the world.
Some towns can’t help but look like Christmas wonderlands all on their own, what with the constant flurries of snowflakes. Maine is one of those special places where winter is what you would expect. Boothbay, Maine, shines brightly during the holiday season with artistically displayed lights at the Boothbay Festival of Lights. The seaside town transforms with thousands of lights on shops, restaurants, and hotels. More than 500,000 LED lights decorate the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens’ central gardens and buildings. There’s also a silent auction of more than 60 decorated trees and related items, and even a lighted boat parade, in which local captains decorate their hulls with lights for a nautical holiday harbor cruise. Here are more towns that are even more special when covered in snow.
In small towns, driving at night is often void of streetlights when you need them most. But think of being on a dark countryside road when suddenly you come over a hill and find yourself amid a shining valley filled with more than one million Christmas lights. This is Bernville, Pennsylvania’s Kozier Christmas Village. For 70 years, the village has become bigger and more popular, attracting visitors from near and far. Christmas lights take over buildings, gift barns, and landscapes—the reflection in the nearby lake adding even more magic. Here are more of our favorite small towns across the United States.
The town of Leavenworth, Washington, is a small Bavarian town in the mountains where the Christmas spirit thrives. Millions upon millions of lights ignite during the Christmas lighting ceremonies that take place the first three weekends of the month. Called the Village of Lights, there are concerts, horse drawn sleighs, shops filled with unique wares, and many restaurants and cafes decorated in the holiday spirit. Get into the holiday spirit with these hilarious Christmas cartoons.