Whether it’s piling into the car with a steaming travel mug of hot chocolate to cruise the holiday lights in your own community, or heading out to a larger “destination holiday light spot,” the glow of twinkling lights is one of the earliest and easiest ways to get into the holiday spirit. If you want to venture beyond home for maximum wattage, check out some of our favorite places to see Christmas lights in New England in a big way.
Note: While we tried to feature a light display destination in each state, Vermont left us scratching our heads! If you know of a Vermont holiday light display that can handle a large amount of traffic, please let us know! Want more holiday fun? Check out the Best Christmas Celebrations in New England and the Best Historic Christmas Celebrations in New England!
*** Updated for 2016 ***
Fatima Shrine – Holliston, MA
Bundle up for a walking tour of the popular annual Christmas lights display at Fatima Shrine, featuring lights, candles, and a beautiful nativity.
Winterfest and the Tunnel of Lights at the Connecticut Trolley Museum – East Windsor, CT
Celebrate the season with a 3-mile carol-filled trolley ride through the twinkling “Tunnel of Lights.” Back at the Visitor Center, enjoy hot cocoa and music while you admire the museum’s model trains and displays.
Holiday Light Fantasia – Hartford, CT
Raising funds to benefit year-round programs at Channel 3 Kids Camp, Holiday Light Fantasia is a nightly 2-mile light show that transforms Goodwin Park into a drive-through wonderland of holiday spirit. Over one million lights depict whimsical holiday scenes, familiar characters, and local tributes that shine bright in both lighted scenes and individual displays. Special Military Appreciation Day December 27th. holidaylightfantasia.org
Gift of Lights at New Hampshire Motor Speedway – Loudon, NH
With more than a mile of lights, this drive-through light show is a recent addition to the list, but is already a popular one. Featuring more than one million lights and hundreds of individual light displays (not to mention hot chocolate and visits with Santa), you won’t want to miss seeing how spectacular over-the-top decorating looks while being able to brag you’ve driven around the track. giftoflightsnhms.com
La Salette Shrine – Attleboro, MA
Dating back to 1953, when a simple but beautiful outdoor manger was the only attraction, the annual holiday show at La Salette Shrine has since grown into a spectacular display of more than 300,000 lights, inspiring displays, concerts, and other events during the Christmas Season. See for yourself why so many families consider a visit to the shrine part of their annual holiday tradition. lasalette-shrine.org
Bright Nights – Springfield, MA
“Bright Nights at Forest Park” is the Northeast’s premier holiday lighting experience with nearly three miles of lighting displays spanning the traditional like “Victorian Village” to the childhood-flashback, like “Jurassic World” and “Seuss Land.” Santa is also on hand, not to mention horse-drawn wagon rides and activities like “Dinner with Dickens.” brightnights.org
Festival of Trees – Methuen, MA
For more than 2 decades, the sights and sounds of the holidays draw visitors to the indoor Festival of Trees in Methuen, with more than 240 trees, wreaths, and displays that you could win! The event also features “special nights” throughout the season like Paint Night and Sports Night. methuenfestivaloftrees.com
Fantasy of Lights – New Haven, CT
Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven becomes the perfect place to cruise for Christmas cheer each holiday season. With over 100,000 bulbs, the festival contains 60 animated displays, and it feels extra nice knowing that proceeds benefit the local Easter Seals organization. eastersealsgoodwill.org/fantasyoflights
ZooLights at the Stone Zoo – Stoneham, MA
ZooLights dazzles. Featuring a winter wonderland of tree-lined paths lit by thousands of twinkling lights, you’ll stroll through festively decorated Yukon Creek — home to bald eagles, North American porcupines, reindeer and arctic foxes. Meet the reindeer up close, visit with Santa, and enjoy a magical holiday animal world. zoonewengland.org/zoolights
Wilton Lights – Wilton, ME
With a synchronized display set to music that you listen to via the radio, this festive display turns the average car into a chariot of holiday cheer. wiltonlights.com
Did we miss your favorite place to see Christmas lights in New England? Let us know!
More New England Christmas:
- Best Historic Christmas Celebrations in New England
- Best Christmas Celebrations in New England
- 5 Best Holiday Light Displays in New England
Where are your favorite places to see Christmas lights in New England?
This post was first published in 2013 and has been updated.