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16 Magical Places To See Christmas Lights In The DC Area (updated for 2020)

16 Magical Places To See Christmas Lights In The DC Area

These Christmas Lights displays in the DC area are truly magical. Make plans to visit one today!

Updated for 2020! Many of these lights displays are open but there are a few that are closed. I have annotated the displays that are closed for 2020 due to COVID.

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.

brookside gardens Garden Lights

Check out these amazing Christmas Lights displays!

1. Brookside Gardens Garden of Lights (not running in 2020)

Garden In 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. Since 1997, the Garden of Lights has been a Baltimore/Washington DC area family holiday tradition.

Garden of Lights | November 22-December 31, 2019 | Brookside Gardens | 1800 Glenallan Avenue | Wheaton MD 20902

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 Visitor Center while you sip hot cocoa and listen to one of the nightly musical performances.

https://www.montgomeryparks.org/parks-and-trails/brookside-gardens/garden-of-lights/

2. Symphony of Lights

The Symphony of Lights has been a time-honored Howard County holiday tradition enjoyed by many for over 25 years. Set in historic Merriweather Post Pavilion and made up of more than 300,000 bulbs, this family-oriented spectacular is a dazzling display of larger-than-life animated and stationary holiday light creations. 

With the addition of new lights and a refreshed course, your time through the twinkling, winding path will surely be a night to remember!

Symphony of Lights is not affiliated with the brand new walk through Ice and Fire event happening on the adjoining property at Symphony Woods produced by The Inner Arbor Trust. There is a separate admission charge for each event.

Address for Symphony of Lights!

Merriweather Post Pavilion
10475 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia, Maryland 21044

https://www.merriweatherlights.com/

  • The price is $20 per vehicle, except for specialty nights

  • No limos, buses or dual axle vehicles are allowed

  • The drive through entrance is at the intersection of Broken Land Pkwy and Hickory Ridge Rd

  • All events occur rain, shine or snow

3. Winter Lights at Seneca Creek State Park

DC Christmas Lights

The City’s Winter Lights Festival is getting ready to welcome visitors for its 24th spectacular season. The wondrous display of lights at Seneca Creek State Park will be open nightly November 27 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 ($15 on site)
  • Cars, SUV’s, Mini-Vans, Limos  Friday – Sunday: $17 ($20 on site)
  • 15 to 30 Passenger Vehicles: $25 ($30 on site)

https://www.gaithersburgmd.gov/recreation/special-events/winter-lights-festival

4. Lights on the Bay at Sandy Point State Park

SPCA of Anne Arundel County is proud to announce the 25th annual Lights on the Bay holiday light show, open to the public on November 20, 2020 and run through January 2, 2021. Taking place at Sandy Point State Park, the event features a two-mile scenic drive along the Chesapeake Bay with approximately 70 animated and stationary displays illuminating the roadway.

The 2020 displays range from holiday influenced designs to lights inspired by our very own historic Annapolis. Visitors are awed by the animated lights, including one of the USNA midshipmen tossing hats into the air.

Lights on the Bay has something for everyone in the family. Children can participate in a nightly scavenger hunt, challenging them to find items within the show, answer display-related questions and enter a drawing to win prizes. As always, Santa will make an appearance on Thanksgiving Day.

Sandy Point State Park is located off Route 50, at exit 32, near the Bay Bridge. The show is open to drivers each night, including holidays, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is $20.00 per car. Large passenger vans, mini buses and trolleys are $30.00. Buses are $50.00. Discount coupons are available through local publications and at many retail locations.

Don’t forget to purchase your 3D glasses upon admission to the park to make the already magical light show come alive

https://www.lightsonthebay.org/

5. 34th Street in Baltimore (It doesn’t look like this event will happen in 2020 due to COVID)

34th Street Christmas Lights

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 2019, the dates run through January 1st 2020. they will be on from around 530 to 11 every night except Dec 24th and Dec 31st when they stay on all night.

http://www.christmasstreet.com/

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.

http://www.pgparks.com/742/Festival-of-Lights

7. Annmarie Garden in Lights

Maryland Christmas Lights

Our award-winning holiday light show is getting a makeover in light of COVID-19 guidelines.  Everything is going OUTSIDE to keep everyone safe, including admissions, the holiday market, charming photos opps, food & daink, and of course, the light show!  Bundle up for the most magical holiday experience in Maryland!

We’ve transformed the grounds of Annmarie Sculpture Garden into an outdoor twinkling wonderland! Annmarie Garden In Lights will transport you and your family to an enchanted world where they will discover glowing “light sculptures” and wondrous light installations. Discover wild animals, wintery wonderlands, musical holiday scenes, deep sea treasures, magical creatures, glowing trees, and so much more!  NEW THIS YEAR!  Bundle up to enjoy our outdoor Holiday Market with shopping, music, fun holiday photo opps, and food and drink. Hardesty Haven Holiday Cafe will be open nightly! 

This is a MASK ON event – all guests over the age of 5 are required to wear their mask at all times, unless you are seated and eating.  In light of the need for social distancing, guests will purchase their timed-entry tickets online.

Date(s): Nov 27 2020 – Jan 1 2020
Closed November 30, December 1, 7, 8, 24, 25
 
Time(s): 5:00-9:00pm nightly
 
Admission: Tickets go on sale Nov. 2 – Advance timed-entry tickets required – Members free; Non-members $10-12/person (depending on night), kids 2 & under free; Museums for All $3/person (requires SNAP card); no refunds; no pets, no smoking/vaping

Related: DC Area Christmas Trains Your Kids Will Love!

8. 42nd Annual Festival of Lights at the Washington DC Mormon Temple (this event will not be running in 2020 due to COVID)

The Festival of Lights is one of the D.C. area’s great community traditions. Beginning November 30th, 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).

https://dctemplelights.lds.org/

9. Ellicott City Lights (this event will not be running in 2020 due to COVID)

christmas lights in maryland

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! 

4802 Red Hill Way
Ellicott City, MD 21043

https://www.facebook.com/EClights/

10. ZooLights DC Zoo (This event will not be running in 2020 due to COVID)

November 29th 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 | ENTRE LES RANGS, A LUMINOUS FIELD OF LIGHTS

This award-winning exhibit, featuring a field of lights that call to mind wheat swaying in the breeze, will be a permanent installation at ZooLights this year. Take a relaxing stroll through the field as the reflecting lights shimmer and sway.

NEW | ANIMAL LANTERNS

This year, dozens of large animal lanterns will put the “Zoo” (and “Lights”) in ZooLights. Pandas, monkeys, zebras, elephants and more — all crafted in China and beautifully lit from within — will be stationed around the park.

NEW | PANDAMONIUM: A VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE

Put on a virtual reality headset and get up close to giant pandas Bei Bei, Bao Bao and their parents in this immersive film. Screening on select dates. See showtimes and get more details here.

https://nationalzoo.si.edu/events/zoolights

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 6, 2020 to January 10, 2021.

Monday – Thursday nights
5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Holiday nights
5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
(Holidays include November 26, December 24, 25, 31, and January 1).

Admission Fee: between $20-$30/car depending on when you go.

https://www.novaparks.com/events/bull-run-festival-of-lights

Christmas Lights DC

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 11, 2020, through Sunday, January 3, 2021, 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.

https://www.novaparks.com/events/winter-walk-of-lights

Christmas Lights DC

13. Longwood Gardens, A Longwood Christmas

longwood gardens christmas

Inspired by the contours of traditional holiday favorites to nature’s unique figures, we’re celebrating all the shapes of the season this year.

We’ve swathed our Conservatory in undulating ribbons … to colorful confectionery, shimmering crystals, delicate snowflakes … and so much more. Outdoors, illuminated trees, glowing orbs, a shimmering tunnel of lights, and captivating light displays choreographed to holiday music set the tone for Christmas at Longwood as you’ve never seen it before.

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 20, 2020–January 10, 2021

Timed Admission Tickets Required.

https://longwoodgardens.org/events-and-performances/events/longwood-christmas

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. When you suddenly 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 72 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.

2020 Season Opens Nov. 7th!

NOV. 7 TO THANKSGIVING:

FRI. 6 PM – 9 PM

*SAT. 5 PM – 10 PM

SUN. 5 PM – 9 PM

THANKSGIVING THRU JAN. 2ND:

MON. – FRI. 6 PM – 9 PM

*SAT. 5 PM – 10 PM

*SUN. 5 PM – 9 PM

*Timed passes + additional $5 per ticket on Prime Nights

STANDARD PRICING:

3 & UNDER – FREE | 4 TO 10 – $10.00

11 TO 64 – $12.00 | SENIORS (65+) – $11.00

PRIME NIGHTS PRICING:

Due to Covid restrictions on capacity there is a $5 premium for PRIME NIGHTS

782 Christmas Village Rd. Bernville, PA 19506

https://www.koziarschristmasvillage.com/home/

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.

https://yorkcountypa.gov/parks-recreation/event-parks/christmas-magic-parks.html

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 13th-January 3rd

Admission Fee: $19-$27/car depending on the time you drive through

https://www.hersheypark.com/info/hours/sweet-lights.php

maryland christmas lights

Christmas lights aren’t the only way to make Christmas magic with your kids. Check out these ideas too!

Once Your Kids Have Helped Decorate For Christmas, Check Out These Christmas Traditions Your Family Will Cherish Too!

Christmas traditions are some of the most powerful bonding opportunities for your family. I know the memories I made as a kid at Christmas-time are a strong anchor for me as an adult. 

There are so many ideas though. It’s hard to keep track, isn’t it? Well, these Christmas family traditions are fantastic. Hope you like these ideas!

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