Sunshine Whispers participates in the Amazon Associates and Amazon Influencer Programs. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned on this site and in this post.
One of the most iconic and magical ways you can celebrate Christmas with your kids is to take them to see Christmas lights. Thousand (or hundreds of thousands) of twinkling lights in creative and playful displays. Some Christmas Lights are walking tours, some are drive through tours.
In the DC area there are so many great places to visit.. too many to see all of them each year. These 16 Christmas Lights displays are some of the best the DC area has to offer.
16 Magical Places To See Christmas Lights In The DC Area
1. Brookside Gardens Garden of Lights
Step into a magical winter wonderland illuminated with more than one million dazzling colorful lights shaped into hand-crafted, original art forms of flowers, animals and other natural elements. Stroll from garden to garden enjoying twinkling tree forms, sparkling fountains, and whimsical winter scenes. The Garden of Lights celebrates its 19th season as a Baltimore/Washington, DC area family holiday tradition.
The night wouldn’t be complete without a visit inside the Conservatory to enjoy watching G-Scale model trains wind through a seasonal landscape. Afterward, warm up inside the Visitors Center while you sip hot cocoa and listen to one of the nightly musical performances.
The annual walk-through light show opens November 16, 2018.
The exhibit is open every night through January 1, 2019, except November 19-22, and December 24 and 25.
2. Symphony of Lights
Symphony of Lights is a time-honored Howard County holiday tradition. Called “must see” and chosen as a Baltimore Sun “Swift Pick,” this family-oriented spectacular is a dazzling display of more than 100 larger-than-life animated and stationary holiday light creations, made up of approximately 300,000 bulbs. During the past 20+ years, nearly 2 million individuals have visited the lights, and proceeds from the event have raised more than $8 million to benefit Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Nov. 22-Dec. 30 (Wednesdays-Sundays), 6-10 p.m.
* CLOSED Sunday, Dec. 2
Sunday, Dec. 2
Celebrate the season with your family, friends or group at the HCGH Symphony of Lights’ only night to walk through the magical light displays! Experience the lights up close and enjoy festivities including holiday music, take your own photo with Santa Claus and concessions available for purchase. Children of all ages are welcome.
3. Winter Lights at Seneca Creek State Park
The City of Gaithersburg Winter Lights Festival is getting ready to welcome visitors for its 23rd spectacular season. The wondrous display of lights at Seneca Creek State Park will be open nightly November 23 through December 31. Please note that the festival will be closed on December 25.
The 3.5 mile drive through the enchanted setting of Seneca Creek State Park takes you past more than 450 illuminated displays and beautifully lit trees that light up the night. The park is located at 11950 Clopper Road, conveniently accessible from I-270.
- Cars, SUV’s, Mini-Vans, Limos Monday – Thursday: $12
- Cars, SUV’s, Mini-Vans, Limos Friday – Sunday: $17
- 15 to 30 Passenger Vehicles: $25
- 30+ Passenger Vehicles: $50
4. Lights on the Bay at Sandy Point State Park
November 17th-January 1st. $15/car or $30/mini-bus.
Driving through “Lights on the Bay” at Sandy Point State Park has become a tradition for many families for the past decade. The Lights on the Bay display is a scenic drive along the shore of the Chesapeake Bay with more than 60 spectacular animated and stationary displays illuminating the roadway.
Don’t forget to purchase your 3D glasses upon admission to the park to make the already magical light show come alive
5. 34th Street in Baltimore
Yes, there really is a Miracle on 34th Street.. and it is that this block in Baltimore puts on a dazzling lights display every holiday season. For 2018 The dates will be Saturday November 24th through Tuesday January 1st 2019. they will be on from around 6 to 11 every night except Dec 24th and Dec 31st when they stay on all night.
6. Watkins Regional Park Festival of Lights
Bring a little twinkle to your holidays at the Annual Winter Festival of Lights. This spectacular holiday drive-through event features more than one million twinkling lights, wonderful themed displays, and one of the tallest tree displays in the state. Don’t forget to make a difference this season! Please bring canned goods/non-perishable items for donation to local food banks.
301 Watkins Park Drive
Upper Marlboro, MD 20774
On Christmas Day the festival is FREE.
7. Annmarie Garden in Lights
Join us for Annmarie Garden In Lights, a magical holiday light show that takes visitors on a beautiful walk through the glittering woods. As you stroll the protected path, you will be surrounded by spectacular “light sculptures” depicting sea creatures, wintry wonderlands, enchanted gardens, wild animals, outer space, airplanes, pirates, princesses, superheroes, and much more. Don’t forget to ask for a “Holiday I Spy” program. After your walk, warm up in the Arts Building where you will find nightly entertainment, beautiful exhibits, great shopping, and a holiday cafe!
Nov 30 2018 – Jan 1 2019
$7/person; members free; kids 2 & under free; no pets, no smoking/vaping
8. 41st Annual Festival of Lights at the Washington DC Mormon Temple
The Festival of Lights is one of the D.C. area’s great community traditions. Beginning November 29th, the Festival features free performances nightly in the comfortable, state-of-the-art theater located in the Visitors’ Center.
A different performing artist or group is showcased each night, including bell ensembles, choirs, orchestras, and more! Each performance is presented twice nightly.
The Visitors’ Center of the Washington D.C. Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
- Temple grounds glow with over 650,000 lights, November 30th through December 31st
- Nightly performances in indoor theater
- Christmas trees decorated in international themes
- Exhibit of crèches from around the world
- Life-sized outdoor nativity
Everything about this festival is FREE. However, some events are ticketed (still free).
9. Ellicott City Lights
This residence in Ellicott City, MD is amazing. Bryan Bartlett decks out his home and synchronizes the lights to an amazing soundtrack. You will oooh. You will ahhh.. you will want to dance. And you can because a lighted dance floor in part of the lights extravaganza! Check out the Facebook page below to get details of when these lights will kick off for 2017.
4802 Red Hill Way
Ellicott City, MD 21043
10. ZooLights DC Zoo
November 23rd to January 1st (except 24, 25, 31 December): Join the thousands of visitors who make ZooLights a part of their annual holiday tradition. A free event, ZooLights includes live music performances, tasty winter treats and plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping. More than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland complete with a dazzling light show set to music!
New for 2018! Gingerbread Village, Laser Light Shows, Reindeer Games Fun Zone, and Symphony of Lights
11. Bull Run Festival of Lights
Every year from Thanksgiving until just after New Year’s Day, you can experience the Bull Run Festival of Lights, 2.5 miles illuminated by holiday light displays. Drive the festival route from the comfort of your car; turn out your headlights and just follow the magical glow. After viewing the lights, bring your family and friends to the holiday village to enjoy rides, refreshments, and of course, photos with Santa Claus (holiday village open select nights). The festival happens annually at Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville, Virginia.
Bull Run Festival of Lights is open seven nights weekly, from November 21, 2018 to January 6, 2019.
Admission Fee: between $20-$25/car depending on when you go.
12. Meadowlark Gardens Winter Walk of Lights
Bring your family and friends to be dazzled by the magical Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia. Every year from mid-November until just after New Year’s Day, the garden is transformed into a half-mile, walk of lights. Revisit perennial favorites such as the animated Lakeside Lights, the Fountain of Lights, and the Holiday Nature Walk – and look for new displays each year. Put on your walking shoes and bring the family to experience a Northern Virginia festive tradition. Round out your visit by roasting marshmallows and sipping on hot beverages by the fire. (Available for purchase at S’more Snacks Shop).
The Winter Walk of Lights is held every evening beginning Friday, November 9, 2018, through Sunday, January 6, 2019, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s too! The Walk of Lights runs from 5:30 to 10 p.m. (last tickets sold at 9:30 p.m.).
Admission: $8-$14 depending on when you go.
13. Longwood Gardens, A Longwood Christmas
This holiday season we look at the Christmas tree in a new light. Join us as we celebrate the Tree Reimagined with festive firs suspended from above, towering tannenbaums created from books to birdhouses to stained glass, and more traditional favorites elevated with surprising new twists.
Outdoors, gloriously illuminated trees lead you on an enchanting holiday journey through our Gardens. Stroll underneath floating orbs of light, watch as tree roots and branches take new illuminated life, and see our Main Fountain Garden as you’ve never seen it before. Warm up by our welcoming fire pits, listen to carolers, and relish in the wonder of A Longwood Christmas.
On View November 22, 2018–January 6, 2019
Timed Admission Tickets Required.
14. Koziar’s Christmas Village
Driving through the darkened countryside and coming over that last hill on the unlit country road is like driving into a fairyland. Suddenly you find yourself in a dazzling valley set aglow with more than one million Christmas lights adorning buildings, gift barns, and landscape. A reflective lake adds to the stunning beauty of this magical place.
Celebrating 71 years of Season’s Greetings, Koziar’s Christmas Village has grown to a mammoth and extraordinary seasonal attraction drawing visitors from great distances as well as local families who have made Koziar’s part of their Christmas tradition for three generations.
782 Christmas Village Rd. Bernville, PA 19506
15. Christmas Magic- A Festival of Lights (York, PA)
Christmas Magic is a 0.5 mile long walking trail (accessible to anyone) that meanders through 600,000 Christmas lights, holiday scenes and five enclosed heated pavilions. The spirit of the Holiday is displayed by using animation, displays, Santa Claus, food from Brown’s Orchards at the Friends Food Stand & Brickers, G-gauge train display, and a second train display. The trail sits among a mature oak forest nestled on a quiet mountaintop.
Admission to Christmas Magic on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays is by timed tickets only, which can be purchased HERE. Reservations will be required, no walk-ins will be permitted Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Timed admission limits the number of people attending Christmas Magic, providing a better visiting experience and less waiting in traffic and lines. Walk-ins are not permitted Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays. Tickets for Monday-Thursday are available online and at the admissions window. Tickets purchased at admission window must be with cash. ATM’s are onsite. Buying your ticket online will allow you to bypass the ticket purchase line and go directly to the timed ticket entry window.
Timed tickets will be able to be purchased in person at John Rudy- Monday-Friday from 8:30-4:30 pm or over the phone at 717-840-7440.
16. Hersheypark Sweet Lights
A winter wonderland awaits at Hershey Sweet Lights®! Enjoy nearly 600 illuminated, animated displays from the comfort of your car as you drive through 2 miles of wooded trails.
From November 16th-January 1st
Admission Fee: $19-$27/car depending on the time you drive through