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One of our family’s Christmas Eve traditions is to ride around and look at Christmas lights locally just before snuggling in our beds to wait for Christmas morn. It brings us all so much joy that I made a list of the best drive through Christmas lights to experience this year in the South BEFORE Christmas Eve. I’d love to share my list with you!
Drive through Christmas lights
I’ve found the ultimate list of drive through Christmas lights all around the Southeastern United States.[clickToTweet tweet=”Get that hot cocoa with plenty of tiny marshmallows and let’s get rolling to see the best Christmas Lights #thehowtoguru #christmaslights #familytravel ” quote=”Get that hot cocoa with plenty of tiny marshmallows and let’s get rolling to see the best Christmas Lights!”]
What a spectacular way to experience half a million lights on display, dancing to beloved Christmas tunes. Start a new tradition and drive through Christmas lights for one mile nightly from November 17th through December 31st in Jacksonville, Florida. The hours every night are 6 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. For more details, look up Jax Illuminations online.
Holiday Festival of Lights
Ride over to James Island, located four miles from Downtown Charleston, South Carolina any night from November 10th to January 1st and experience over three miles of millions of multi-colored lights. These days, there is more to do than a driving tour of the Holidays Festival of Lights. Families can enjoy the sand sculpture, holiday train, Santa’s Sweet Shoppe, and even a Victorian carousel. Make sure to take time out to mingle with Kringle, as Santa will be around too.
I’ve written many articles about Charleston, South Carolina because it’s one of my favorite Southern family travel destinations. For the love of all things holy, don’t leave James Island without checking out the Angel Tree also. You’re welcome! For more information about the Christmas lights, read about James Island S.C.
Fantasy in Lights
One of the South’s most popular Christmas traditions, your family can enjoy a drive through Christmas lights called Fantasy in Lights in Pine Mountain, Georgia, just 60 minutes southwest of Atlanta. Buying a Fantasy in Lights ticket gives the options to either drive personal vehicles through OR ride the Jolly Trolley.
Included also in the ticket price is the option to visit the Christmas Village where Santa is hanging out with the kiddos. The Christmas Village opens at 4 p.m. daily and has shopping, food and plenty of photo ops. Believe it or not, the Fantasy in Lights tickets also gain you admission for the day to the regular Callaway Gardens park. For more information, go to Callaway Gardens.
Magical Nights of Lights
It’s the 25th Annual celebration of Christmas lights at Lake Lanier Islands in Georgia. Your carload can enjoy seven miles of sparkling light displays while singing carols at the top of their lungs. Many beloved displays are still included this year like Santa’s Elves at Work, The North Pole Express, Jack & the Bean Stalk, Wizard of Oz, The Poinsettia Candelabra, The Icicle Tunnel, and The Carousel. A newer display is called, “The 12 Days of Christmas.” There are different packages available at the resort and more, so check out Lake Lanier Islands for more details.
Christmas Nights of Lights
One million LED lights + 10,000 computer channels + synchronized traditional Christmas music + synchronized new rocking Christmas music + tunes blaring from your car radio = pure joy! That’s exactly what you get at Mobile, Alabama’s Nights of Lights drive through Christmas lights displays. Drive through tunnels of dancing lights and view the new lighted displays as they dance to the music. For more details, look up Mobile Alabama’s info.
Enchanted Garden of Lights
For the 23rd year in a row, there’s an enchanted garden that’s in North Georgia, practically on the Tennessee line (we’re talking six miles from Downtown Chattanooga), atop Lookout Mountain. If you haven’t heard, Rock City Gardens is one of the most beautiful natural attractions in the South where you can literally view seven states. So can you imagine how gorgeous it is decorated for Christmas?
The celebration is so grand that there are four uniquely themed realms of wonder in the Enchanted Garden of Lights. You can choose the order in which you want to visit them. You can’t go wrong with areas called North Pole Highway and Yule Town! For more details, See Rock City.
Christmas Lights under Louisville
If you haven’t visited this fascinating drive through Christmas lights display, chances are that you’ve never seen anything like this! The Louisville, Kentucky cavern was a former limestone mine that has been transformed into an underground, magical land with 17 miles of passageways. How cool is that?! Yes, this is the only underground light show like this anywhere! Enjoy over 850 lit characters with over 2,000,000 points of light. Bring the family November 17th through December 31st and find out more about Lights under Lousiville online.
Dancing Lights of Christmas
This half-million Christmas lights display is a delight to all ages and currently known as Middle Tennessee’s Largest Drive Thru Light and Music Show. Be sure to note that the location has changed from the Nashville Jellystone Park to the new James E. Ward Agricultural Center, home of the Wilson County Fair. This new location brings with it a bigger and better experience with new displays, an extended drive route, new Christmas tunes, and an expanded Fox17 Santa’s village. Check out the new attraction online.
Tanglewood Festival of Lights
Wow! 26 years in a row, Tanglewood Park’s rolling countryside has been turned into a winter wonderland of lights and whimsical scenes in Clemmons, North Carolina. This year’s route has grown to just under five miles with over one hundred displays and one million individual LED lights. Take time to also visit Mr. and Mrs. Claus for a photo, the darling gift shop, S’moresville, or in a traditional white carriage drawn by a Percheron horse. Find out more about Tanglewood online.
Which drive through Christmas lights are YOU excited about? Let me hear from you in the comments!
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I love Christmas lights! We’ll be staying close to home this year, but when my kiddos get bigger, some of these would be so much fun!
This is a great list! We love driving around looking at lights and are excited to find some new places to visit this Holiday!
This made my DAY! I love holiday lights. I even found a podcast episode about them from the US Dept. of Energy (ha!) (there’s a link to the episode in my blog post here: https://podcastmaniac.com/life-love-podcast-reviews-news/more-holiday-podcast-episodes/) Thank you SO much for sharing these photos! The giant nutcrackers are AH-MAY-ZING!
Wow. These displays look wonderful!
Those are some beautiful Christmas lights displays! I would love to see them in person!
There’s not much that makes me happier than Christmas lights! Love seeing all of these amazing spots 🙂