Gardens Aglow at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens | Best Places to See Christmas Lights in New EnglandPhoto Credit : Courtesy of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
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. Wondering where to go see Christmas lights in New England? 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 in the comments below.
Want more holiday fun? Check out the Best Christmas Celebrations in New England and the Best Historic Christmas Celebrations in New England!
In search of religious Christmas light displays? Massachusetts is home to two shrines on our list. The first is in Holliston. Bundle up for a walking tour of the popular annual Christmas lights display at Fatima Shrine, featuring lights, candles, and a beautiful nativity.
Wondering where to go see Christmas lights with an emphasis on trains? You’re not alone. 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.
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, making it a top spot for Hartford Christmas lights. Over one million lights depict whimsical holiday scenes, familiar characters, and local tributes that shine bright in both lighted scenes and individual displays.
As part of the Boothbay Festival of Lights, Gardens Aglow features over 500,000 energy-efficient LED lights decorating the central gardens and buildings at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. In addition to the lights, visitors can enjoy s’mores and popcorn and peruse the Gardens Gift Shop. Purchasing tickets in advance strongly recommended.
With more than 2.5 miles of lights, this drive-through light show is a recent addition to the list but already a popular one. Given that there’s more than 2.5 million lights and 520 individual light displays — not to mention hot chocolate, s’mores, and photos with Santa (for a small fee) — you won’t want to miss seeing how spectacular over-the-top decorating looks while being able to brag you’ve driven your car through the speedway’s infield tunnel. Special events include multiple theme nights, Coca-Cola Night, and the Yule Light Up the Night 5K Run.
The second shrine on our list. Dating back to 1953, when a simple but beautiful outdoor manger was the only attraction, the annual La Salette Shrine Christmas lights display 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 La Salette lights a special part of their annual holiday tradition.
“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.” Springfield Christmas lights have never shined so bright!
This indoor destination for where to go see Christmas lights is a family favorite. 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.
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.
How about Christmas lights with animals? Here, 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.
Did we miss your favorite place to see Christmas lights in New England? Let us know!
This post was first published in 2013 and has been updated.