See the Holiday Lights in Massachusetts

’Tis the season for merry and bright displays in the Bay State.

By Yankee Editors

Nov 07 2022

Sponsored by the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

When it comes to celebrating the holidays in New England, Massachusetts has lit the way for nearly 200 years — ever since a Harvard professor put up the region’s first Christmas tree in 1832, in Cambridge. New England’s best-known tree today is the massive twinkling evergreen on Boston Common, a gift from Nova Scotia as thanks for aid following the 1917 Halifax disaster. Gloucester, meanwhile, lit the nation’s first lobster-trap tree in 2001 (and later debuted the first lobster-trap menorah, too).

Located about an hour south of Boston, Taunton lives up to its “Christmas City” nickname at its annual Lighting of the Green and Lights On festival, set for Dec. 3.
Photo Credit : Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

But it’s not just sparkling trees that inspire the oohs and aahs among Massachusetts visitors at this time of year. From city parks and historic homes to botanical gardens and zoos, you can find seasonal displays of countless lights and infinite creativity — making Massachusetts truly a place where the holiday spirit shines bright.


The Trustees of Reservations, the largest and oldest preservation and conservation nonprofit in Massachusetts, mounts a spectacular “Winterlights” display in three of its garden properties during the holidays, including Naumkeag in Stockbridge.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of The Trustees of Reservations

Discover historic splendor in Lenox, where NightWood (11/11–1/1) offers a magical outdoor sound-and-light experience at Edith Wharton’s The Mount. At another Gilded Age estate, in Stockbridge, The Trustees of Reservations dresses up the beautiful gardens at Naumkeag for Winterlights(11/25–1/7). Note: Fans of The Trustees’ beautiful properties across the state can enjoy similarly lavish Winterlights displays at the Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens in North Andover, and the Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate in Canton.

For pure holiday spectacle, the city of Springfield is a traditional go-to destination: It hosts New England’s largest drive-through light show, Bright Nights at Forest Park(11/23–1/1), a stunning three-mile route through large-scale displays featuring 675,000-plus lights.

Nationally hailed as a top holiday attraction, Bright Nights at Forest Park in Springfield has welcomed than 6 million visitors since it first began lighting up the night in 1995.
Photo Credit : Leon Photography/Courtesy of Spirit of Springfield


Join the merry crowds on the streets of Lowell for its City of Lights parade and celebration (11/26), culminating with the lighting of the 1893 Town Hall and its 180-foot clock tower. In nearby Methuen, an astonishing 240-plus decorated trees and wreaths star in the Festival of Trees(11/18–12/3), described as the largest display of its kind in New England. And over on the coast, Salisbury gets into the “O Tannenbaum” spirit with its Sea Festival of Trees (11/19–12/4), with indoor ice skating, Santa visits, and plenty of glittering trees.

When Lowell’s City of Lights festival arrives on Nov. 26, expect the whole city to dress up in its holiday finery. The theme for this year’s parade is, appropriately, “Deck the Halls.”
Photo Credit : James Higgins/Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism


Worcester kicks off its winter-long light display on the Common with the Festival of Lights(12/2), featuring live entertainment, family fun, and the illumination of the city tree. Elsewhere, nature takes on a holiday glow as Night Lights (11/25–12/31) transforms the New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill into a fairy-tale landscape, and Mendon’s Southwick’s Zoo pairs its enchanting Festival of Illumination lantern display with its Winter Wonderland holiday celebration (11/12–12/31).

Ice skating on the Worcester Common Oval is among the merry highlights of the city’s annual Festival of Lights, which arrives Dec. 2 to kick off the holiday season.
Photo Credit : Chelsea Creekmore/Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism


Even before Thanksgiving, two top events are in full swing: Stone Zoo’s dazzling ZooLights (11/18–1/8) in Stoneham, and the drive-through extravaganza Magic of Lights at Foxborough’s Gillette Stadium (11/18–12/31). The Garden at Elm Bank in Wellesley arrives on this merry scene with its Festival of Trees (11/25–12/31), just before the Boston Common Holiday Tree Lighting (12/1) rings in the season in New England’s biggest city, with the four-story star attraction and 80-plus other trees springing to life. And down by the water, Boston’s Seaport is transformed into the winter wonderland of Snowport (11/11–12/31), with a Holiday Market filled with 120-plus vendors, and events ranging from the Light Up Seaport tree lighting (12/2) to an ice sculpture stroll (12/31).

Boston’s official Christmas tree will be lit Dec. 1 on Boston Common, and serve as a sparkling anchor for the city’s festivities throughout the yuletide and into the new year.
Photo Credit : Denis Tangney Jr./iStock


Continuing a beloved Attleboro tradition since 1953, the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette offers a display of more than 400,000 lights to brighten visitors’ spirits at its Christmas Festival of Lights(11/24–1/1). Another family favorite is the Edaville Christmas Festival of Lights (11/10–1/1), set amid Carver’s heritage railroad and amusement park. Finally, see how Taunton came to be nicknamed “The Christmas City” at the Lights On Festival (12/3), as Taunton’s beautifully illuminated town green begins its season of enchantment.
The National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro welcomes thousands of visitors to its 240-acre campus each year for its awe-inspiring Christmas Festival of Lights display.
Photo Credit : Mark Medeiros/Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism


Stroll cobblestone streets lined with dozens of twinkling trees during the season-long Nantucket Noel, which includes the big tree lighting (11/25) and the Holiday Stroll (12/2–12/4). In Sandwich, the spectacular Gardens Aglow (11/25–12/23) returns to the Heritage Museums & Gardens, while in Provincetown they’ll be cheering a uniquely Massachusetts sign of the holidays: the Lighting of the Pilgrim Monument (11/11).
Enjoy the landscape in a whole new light at Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, where Gardens Aglow begins Nov. 25.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Heritage Museums & Gardens
Note: A number of multiday events have specific hours and dates for their offerings, so be sure to check organizers’ websites for details before making travel plans.