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Tourism

11 Must-See Holiday Displays Across the U.S.

November 28, 2023

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The holiday season has arrived in the United States, and according to a 2023 survey by Deloitte, more than half of Americans will travel for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or both.

Instead of just visiting loved ones, Deloitte reports travelers seek experiences, making trips to see Christmas light displays the perfect opportunity to travel and connect with loved ones.

Winterfest

Alexandrea Sumuel from Wander with Alex recommends travelers consider a trip to Norfolk, Virginia, where the city decks out the decommissioned U.S.S. Wisconsin battleship every winter with over one million holiday lights. The Winterfest celebration is held at the Nauticus maritime museum and welcomes families to wander through the ship’s glowing tunnels and sparkling footbridges.

Beyond the ship’s attractions, families can enjoy holiday shopping at Mistletoe Marina while watching snowflakes fall, which creates a waterfront winter wonderland. The live entertainment schedule includes Santa’s tree lighting, juggling acts, and the puppet version of A Christmas Carol.

Rhema Lights

Visiting Rhema Lights in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, is a holiday tradition for many families in the Tulsa area. Beth Mueller from the Pear Tree Kitchen visits the display annually with her family. “The holiday season can’t begin without a trip through the campus,” she says. “Rhema Lights welcomes over 500,000 visitors yearly to enjoy over 2 million lights on a 110-acre church campus.”

Rhema Lights welcomes over 500,000 visitors yearly to enjoy over 2 million lights on a 110-acre church campus. Visitors can walk through the main display for an immersive experience, drive through, or take a carriage ride. The show is synchronized to Christmas music and includes many lighted sculptures, a Nativity scene, and a gingerbread house covered with lollipops and gumdrops.

Christmas Lights on Holt Road

Mikkel Woodruff, editor at Sometimes Home, recommends a trip to Apex, North Carolina, to see the Christmas Lights on Holt Road.

She says the exhibit “is a truly spectacular display of holiday sparkle. This family decorates their home and property with thousands of lights in Apex, North Carolina, adjacent to Raleigh. They power the lights and allow the public to take a ten-minute drive through their property every year from Thanksgiving weekend through the end of the year to take in the view.”

Lights Under Louisville

Kimberly Bedford from Keep Dazzling recommends a trip to Louisville, Kentucky, for some Christmas cheer. She reports that Lights Under Louisville is one of the most spectacular displays she has ever seen. Guests enjoy a 30-minute ride through the world’s only known underground holiday light show. Visitors are immersed in a 17-mile megadose of holiday cheer with 40 themed displays, 900 lit characters, and over 6.5 million lights.

Cincinnati Zoo’s Festival of Lights

According to Scott McConkey, with Miles with McConkey, the Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights is a “unique holiday experience where guests can see animals while walking under four million LED Christmas lights. Now in its 41st year, the event offers seasonal culinary treats, scavenger hunts, giant animal lanterns, carousel rides, and an opportunity to meet Santa.”

Cincinnati has many other holiday attractions for visitors. Guests can ice skate in Fountain Square while enjoying the decorated holiday tree surrounded by towering skyscrapers. Cincinnati’s Playhouse in the Park presents A Christmas Carol, and the Cincinnati Ballet performs The Nutcracker at Music Hall. The area has holiday train rides, Christmas tree farms, and many neighborhoods with unique holiday light displays.

Holiday Lane

American Christmas in Mount Vernon, New York, will open its 110,000-square-foot warehouse and showroom for the public for a one-of-a-kind spectacular Christmas experience through Dec. 22.

Dan Casterella, the CEO of American Christmas, says, “Holiday Lane by American Christmas was designed to provide a magical Christmas experience for visitors in a setting that is as beautiful as it is comfortable and accessible. There isn’t any other venue like it in the New York area, so it is ideal for travelers who want a holiday photo op experience close to Manhattan.”

The event showcases over 100,000 lights and more than 100 animatronics and figurines in nine uniquely themed areas.

WildLights

Until Dec 30, The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Desert, California, will transform into a radiant wonderland adored by Southern Californians and out-of-towners alike.

This year, not only will the zoo have its featured activities like Santa’s sleigh, a tunnel of lights, s’more roasting, and specialty hot chocolate drinks, but attendees will also get to experience the magic at a whole new level with the introduction of a 30-foot Christmas tree. In line with true WildLights tradition, the G-scale model trains, with over 3,300 feet of track, will be adorned with festive holiday decorations.

Winter Wonderland

Holiday celebrations are underway at the Equestrian Hotel’s Winter Wonderland celebration in Ocala, Florida, with dozens of weekly activities, shows, and events throughout the month. The festival showcases everything from the cheery melodies of Victorian carolers and real-life toy soldiers jump-roping to ice sculpture demos and story time with Santa. With more than 1 million twinkling lights, a glittering 45-foot Christmas tree, and larger-than-life ornaments sprinkled throughout the Grand Plaza, it’s impossible not to feel the merriment and cheer of the holiday season.

The Equestrian Hotel, located on the grounds of The World Equestrian Center, is a 248-room hotel with seven restaurants, a luxury spa, a one-of-a-kind toy store, and high-end retail experiences. Stroll through the Christmas Tree Maze before roasting s’mores and cozying up with a cup of over-the-top hot cocoa with all your favorite toppings from the North Pole Cafe.

Rotary Lights

Rotary Lights at Riverside Park in La Crosse, Wisconsin, features the state’s biggest light show, with over 3 million lights glistening throughout the park. Visitors can drive, walk, or take a carriage ride as they enjoy this free holiday tradition. The festivities kick off with a parade on the Friday after Thanksgiving and last through December 23. Santa and his reindeer will attend nightly with free skate rental, s’mores, and carriage rides for purchase are available throughout the season.

Light Up Bardstown

Combine one part Whoville, one part Polar Express, and a strong splash of bourbon seasoned with Southern charm, and the result is the perfect holiday getaway to Bardstown, Kentucky, the Bourbon Capital of the World. In this small town, there is something to make everyone’s season bright, whether it’s sipping cocoa with Santa aboard the North Pole Express or caroling with a Victorian flair.

The annual Light Up Bardstown event is a Whoville-style holiday light display. Everyone in the tiny town of Bardstown comes out to decorate during the annual Hanging of the Greens, culminating in the whole town flipping the switch and making Bardstown a dazzling display of festive lights. The light-viewing route has more than 20 stops spanning entire blocks and many businesses guests can walk through.

Holiday Lights at the Beach

Home to the world’s longest pleasure beach, Virginia Beach’s annual Holiday Lights at the Beach display stretches along the city’s award-winning oceanfront Boardwalk. Visitors enjoy twinkling lights and animated displays reflected in the ocean waters, a surfing Santa, fixtures that pay tribute to the region’s Armed Forces community, and a 40-foot Christmas tree with dancing lights. Just once each year, vehicles are allowed on the merry mile that features a new 600-foot LED light tunnel to see more than 25 individual large displays added this year.

Something for Everyone

The holiday season is a magical time. One of the best ways to be present and get into the festive spirit is to visit one of the best Christmas light displays in the United States. From coast to coast, cities and towns are transformed into winter wonderlands, with millions of twinkling lights illuminating the streets and buildings. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly activity or a romantic date night, there’s something for everyone.

This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Theresa Bedford | Wealth of Geeks undefined

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