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In the last few years, drive-thru Christmas lights displays have exploded in popularity, with new displays every season and bigger and better versions of returning events. Drive-thru displays are a fun and easy way to get your whole family together for an unforgettable holiday experience. Many locations include musical accompaniments and seasonal beverages and food-and you can even bring your furry family members along! Plus, stay safe and cozy in the warmth of your vehicle while still making the most of that magical winter weather.
Keep reading to find our top picks for the best drive-thru lights displays across the country this holiday season.
Winter Fest OC’s Night of Lights OC is a magical and immersive Christmas lights and winter wonderland drive-thru experience. This year, it runs from November 25, 2022-January 1, 2023 (excluding Christmas Eve, December 24) at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa. Ticket presale begins November 1. Admission is $30 for adults and $25 for children ages 3-12, but presale will net you some big savings at just $19.95 for adults and $14.95 for children. Higher tier passes are available from $37-$82, which allows you admission to special attractions and more perks like unlimited rides.
Cruise through the mile-long course to see more than one million lights, themed holiday scenery, animated light shows and tunnels while listening to synchronized music through a car radio or smartphone. Pre-order hot cocoa, cinnamon sugar donuts and Mom’s Bake Shoppe cookie buckets and brownies when you buy tickets online.
Jax Illuminations is a mile of Christmas lights synchronized to holiday music broadcast over your car radio. Come see a million brilliant LED lights that dance, twinkle and sparkle to some of your favorite holiday songs. Last year’s celebration was canceled, but the event will return this season at a new location. This year, the event runs from December 1-31, excluding Christmas Day. Hours are 6-9:30 p.m. from Sunday-Thursday and 6-10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are $25-$30 per carload depending on the day, and VIP passes to skip the lines are $50.
For a unique and friendly experience, you can drive through the Blackhawk Bluff subdivision for free. Located at Girvin Road off of Atlantic Boulevard, the neighborhood is famous for its over-the-top holiday spirit. Get details on this Facebook page.
Head to Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens to see 8 million Christmas lights and a sound show with 15 scenes. This festival of lights was named one of the world’s top 10 by National Geographic Traveler. You can drive your own car through the display or take the Jolly Trolley. This year, it runs from November 18, 2022-January 1, 2023. Ticket prices vary considerably – on regular nights, adult tickets are $24.95 and children ages 3-11 are $19.95, but on busier nights, tickets can be $34.95-$39.95 for adults and $29.95-$34.95 for children.
Let It Shine converts the Northbrook Court Mall parking lot into a fun, drive-thru musical light display. Tune your car radio to a certain station and drive along the winding path and watch the lights move to the music on towering trees, lighted tunnels and flashing candy canes. The mouths of the illuminated characters move to sing along with the mood-lifting music-everything from the “Frozen” soundtrack to old-school Christmas tunes. Limited spots are available, so advanced purchase is required. Including taxes and fees, tickets are $32.99 per car on weekdays and $42.99 per car on weekends and holidays. Fast passes are available for an additional $20. Tickets can be used for discounts at nearby restaurants and shops. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the NorthShore University HealthSystem Kellogg Cancer Center. Runs November 18, 2022-January 1, 2023, every night from 6-10 p.m (including Christmas Day!).
SheBuysTravel Tip: Let the kids stand up through the sunroof as you go through the lighted tunnels. It makes a cool video!
Indy’s Christmas Nights of Lights provides a half-hour interactive driving experience at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and boasts more than a million lights across dozens of displays. This year, dates are from November 11, 2022-January 1, 2023. Enter the fairgrounds at Gate 12 on 42nd Street.
Tickets are $30-$75 per carload, depending on how many people are in the vehicle (up to 35). If you are planning on bringing a larger vehicle, note that automobiles over 11’ tall are not allowed. Go before you go – the only facilities are portable toilets located at the entrance.
Lights Under Louisville is one of those awe-inspiring attractions. Enjoy a ride through the Christmas lights at MEGA Caverns. It claims to be the world’s only fully underground drive-thru Christmas lights show.
Plan to spend about 30 minutes driving through the 17 miles of underground passageways to see 3 millions points of light. Hours are 6-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 5-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Dates this season are from November 11, 2022-January 2, 2023. Tickets are by the carload for $32.99 for cars, trucks and minivans.
Drive through 2.5 miles of Glittering Lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Named one of 7 Over-The-Top Holiday Light Displays You Gotta See by Huffington Post in 2015, the event runs November 10, 2022-January 8, 2023, though November 24, December 9-11 & December 16-25 are listed as extended wait. Prices are by the carload, and range from $29 to $39 depending on the date, with season passes available for $129. A portion of each ticket sold is donated to the Speedway Children’s Charities.
The drive-thru Magic of Lights display runs November 18-December 30 this year. Families drive their own car through the course, held at Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh. The new Illuminating Mega Trees features over 240 feet of lights and music. Hours are Sunday-Thursday from 5-10 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 5-11 p.m. Tickets are $20 per car if purchased in advance, and $30 for weekdays or $40 for weekends when purchased at the entrance.
It gets cold in upstate New York, but you can stay warm in your car at the drive-thru Lights on the Lake. The 30th annual event is open November 14, 2022-January 13, 2023, from 5-10 p.m. The two-mile winter extravaganza includes a radio accompaniment. There is a Land of Oz and Fantasy Forest, and the two-mile winter extravaganza includes a radio accompaniment. Admission is by the carload; $6 on Monday and Tuesday, $10 Wednesday and Thursday, and $20 Friday-Sunday.
The annual Winter Wonderland at the Portland International Raceway spans the entire eight miles of the track. See more than 250 colorful set pieces and many fully animated scenes from the comfort of your car at this drive-thru Christmas lights show. Hours are 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 4:30-11 p.m. Friday-Sunday. From December 16-25, hours are 4:30-11 p.m. every day. Tickets are per car, and prices vary by date.
More than 600 LED Christmas lights displays can be seen each holiday season at Arlington’s Texas Motor Speedway’s Gift of Lights. Cruise around more than two miles of light displays, with almost 3 million lights, while listening to Christmas music on KLTY.
The festival opens November 24 this year and runs through January 1, 2023. Hours are 6-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and 6-10 p.m. Friday & Saturday. The attraction stays open until 10 p.m. every day from December 11-26. Tickets are by the carload for $35 each. Unfortunately, the Santa’s Village special attraction is not open this year, but restrooms will be available. Sundays-Wednesdays are usually the least busy.
The 100 Miles of Lights display winds from the Virginia capital city to the Atlantic Ocean from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day. Choose from seven lighted cities with parades of boats and floats, festivals, music and dance, living history, caroling and more. Richmond, Williamsburg, Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach.
Hankering for a Tacky Lights show? Try Richmond. Illuminated boat parades? Visit Hampton and Yorktown. Want to walk through a million bulbs? That’s in Norfolk.
Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park claims to be the Northwest’s largest drive-thru display. Featuring an LED light tunnel, the display includes thousands of lights and nearly 300 figures along the two-mile drive along Spanaway Lake.
This year, dates are from November 25, 2022-January 1, 2023. Prices range from $10-$45 per vehicle depending on size and dates. While driving through, tune your car radio to FM 95.3 to hear a selection of special holiday music.
More Christmas Lights Displays in the USA
Cindy Richards is a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist who serves as the Editor-in-Chief of SheBuysTravel.com. She also is the mom of two now grown kids who have traveled with her since that first, fateful plane ride when one preschooler discovered a barf bag in his seat pocket and his sister, finding none in hers, demanded, "I want a barf bag too!" She has been a reporter, editor and columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune, an editor at Chicago Parent and Catalyst Chicago and an instructor in the graduate school at Northwestern's prestigious Medill School of Journalism.