Best Public Holiday Lights Display (2018)


Snow is falling and the smell of turkey is in the air.. The holidays are here. 10Best Local Experts and Editors have combed the nation for the 20 best, brightest and most beautiful holiday lights shows put on by neighborhoods, cities and parks, and our readers have voted for their favorites.

  • Festival of Lights

    Festival of Lights
    Riverside, Calif.

    The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa’s Festival of Lights returns to Riverside for its 26th year with 5 million lights, 400 animated figures, a life-size gingerbread house, the world’s largest mistletoe, visits from Santa Claus and Sugar Plum Fairy ballerinas, live entertainment, all welcomed with a grand Switch-On ceremony complete with a Super Bowl-grade firework show.
    Photo courtesy of Peter Cooper, The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa

  • Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill

    Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill
    Clifton Mill

    The Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill in Clifton, Ohio lights up with over 3.5 million lights each holiday season. The historic mill, gorge, riverbanks, bridges and trees are covered in twinkling bulbs for the event, which includes a 100-foot "waterfall" of lights. The event also features an outdoor miniature Christmas village, Santa Claus Museum, a Toy Collection from holidays past and Santa's Workshop, where visitors can peek in on Mr. Claus as he checks his list and heads up the chimney to load his sleigh.
    Photo courtesy of Clifton Mill

  • Bentleyville "Tour of Lights"

    Bentleyville "Tour of Lights"
    Duluth, Minn.

    Bentlleyville "Tour of Lights," America’s largest free walk-through lights display, invites visitors to walk amid more than 5 million lights spread across a 20-acre park on the shores of Lake Superior. Guests can get their photo taken with Rudolph, visit with Santa and enjoy free cocoa, cookies, roasted marshmallows and popcorn.
    Photo courtesy of Aaron Fulkerson / Flickr

  • Christmas Town USA

    Christmas Town USA
    McAdenville, N.C.

    McAdenville is nicknamed Christmas Town USA for a good reason. Every winter, this small town in North Carolina transforms into a festive, twinkling wonderland, dotted with thousands of lights, dramatic displays and a spirited Main Street. Hundreds of thousands of visitors come to Christmas Town USA every December to drive through the 1.3-mile-long route through breathtaking holiday displays. McAdenville’s Christmas Town tradition dates way back to the ‘50s. 

  • Holiday Light Show

    Holiday Light Show
    Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

    The Holiday Lights Show, the nation's largest on-the-water lights display, illuminates Idaho's Coeur d'Alene Resort with more than 1.5 million bulbs from the end of November through early January. Aboard a Journey to the North Pole cruise on Lake Coeur d'Alene, guests are transported to Santa's North Pole Toy Workshop, home to one of the world's tallest Christmas trees.
    Photo courtesy of Dustin Weed from Quicksilver Studios

  • Austin Trail of Lights

    Austin Trail of Lights

    This holiday season, the Austin Trail of Lights takes over Zilker Park for the 54th anniversary of the popular Hill Country event. More than two million bulbs divided into over 40 light displays will illuminate the 1.25-mile trail, culminating in the 155-foot Zilker Tree, the world's tallest man-made freestanding holiday tree. Nearly three dozen area food trucks join the event to sooth those post-trail hunger pangs.
    Photo courtesy of Dear Wesleyann Photography

  • The Lights of Christmas

    The Lights of Christmas
    Stanwood, Wash.

    The Lights of Christmas in Stanwood, Washington features more than a million lights spread across 15 acres at Warm Beach Camp, hot donuts, live carolers, children’s activities and holiday shopping. It’s the largest holiday lights display in the Pacific Northwest.
    Photo courtesy of The Lights of Christmas Festival

  • Nights of Lights

    Nights of Lights
    St. Augustine, Fla.

    Historic Downtown St. Augustine gets decked in millions of tiny white lights during the holiday Nights of Lights celebration. The oldest city in the USA draws on the Spanish tradition of placing white candles in the window during the holidays, but takes it to new festive heights with more than 3 million points of light within the 144-square-block historic district during the free holiday event.
    Photo courtesy of

  • Lights Under Louisville

    Lights Under Louisville

    Attendees of Lights Under Louisville head underground into the passages of Louisville Mega Cavern for this Louisville holiday tradition. The popular attraction transforms into a spectacle of over 3 million lights with over 850 lit characters. Visitors take their own cars on the 30-minute ride through the world's only fully underground drive through holiday light display.
    Photo courtesy of Louisville Mega Cavern

  • Chickasha Festival of Light

    Chickasha Festival of Light
    Chickasha, Okla.

    The 26th annual Chickasha Festival of Light in Oklahoma takes place in 43-acre Shannon Springs Park. Festive lights displays are complemented by a Ferris wheel, live nativity scene, food trucks, shops and carriage rides through the park. Santa is often on hand for photos.
    Photo courtesy of AP Photo/J. Pat Carter

The top 10 winners in the Best Public Holiday Lights Display category are as follows:

  1. Festival of Lights - Riverside, Calif.
  2. Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill - Clifton Mill
  3. Bentleyville "Tour of Lights" - Duluth, Minn.
  4. Christmas Town USA - McAdenville, N.C.
  5. Holiday Light Show - Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
  6. Austin Trail of Lights - Austin
  7. The Lights of Christmas - Stanwood, Wash.
  8. Nights of Lights - St. Augustine, Fla.
  9. Lights Under Louisville - Louisville
  10. Chickasha Festival of Light - Chickasha, Okla.

Congratulations to all these winning lights displays!

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