Kids eyes shine when they walk through Winterlights—in Canton and the Berkshires this year. Photo courtesy of Naumkeag
Kids eyes shine when they walk through Winterlights—in Canton and the Berkshires this year. Photo courtesy of Naumkeag

Boston's Best Holiday Drive-thru and Christmas Light Displays

Every family favors different holiday traditions, but we don't know anyone—young or old—who isn't delighted by the twinkly glow of a holiday or Christmas light display. In 2020, the annual tradition of taking in holiday lights will be more meaningful than ever for Boston parents and kids: As these spectacular displays are mainly outdoors, it gives us all a chance to feel a little seasonal magic in a safe, socially distanced way. This year, there are even drive-thru events such as the Magic of Lights show at Gillette Stadium, the Greater Boston Celebration of Lights event in Waltham, and the Marshfield Holiday Light Show, in addition to sparklier-than-ever walk-through events like ZooLights and La Salette Shrine.

Whether you venture out to a dazzling show at one of these area attractions or just drive around to these spectacularly decorated local homes, set aside an evening, bring a thermos of cocoa, and experience some magic as a family. Make sure you bookmark our Boston Holiday Fun Guide for more ideas for family outings in November and December.

2020 update: While we are trying to promote safer activities that occur outdoors or with social distancing guidelines in place, please keep your family and others safe by always wearing a mask and maintaining appropriate distance. If you arrive at an event that appears too crowded, try using the “nearby” search feature on our event calendar to find something else to do.

Magic of Lights—Foxborough

November 13, 2020 - January 3, 2021
Pack up the car and head to Gillette Stadium for a holiday lights drive-thru. Cruise through a drive-through Blizzard Tunnel, countdown the 12 Days of Christmas, visit a Winter Wonderland and more at this lights experience takes holiday decorating to the next level.

North Shore Drive-Thru Holiday Light Show—Bradford

November 19 - December 30, 2020
Bundle up in your car, pack a favorite snack, and tune in on your radio to enjoy a synced light performance as you travel through the holiday light show. This new, drive-thru show features dozens of dazzling, larger-than-life holiday-themed displays.

ZooLights at the Stone Zoo is an annual favorite. Photo courtesy of Zoo New England

ZooLights at the Stone Zoo—Stone Zoo, Stoneham

November 27, 2020 - January 3, 3021
Get into the holiday spirit by strolling along tree-lined paths lit by thousands of twinkling lights. Visit Yukon Creek with its bald eagles, a North American porcupine, a gray fox, arctic foxes, and even reindeer. Santa won't be around this season, but there will be a special display of lantern-lit animals throughout the zoo grounds.

The La Salette Holiday Lights have been shining every year since 1953. Photo courtesy of Our Lady of La Salette

La Salette Shrine Lights—Attleboro

November 26, 2020 - January 3, 2021
The La Salette Shrine lights have been shining each year at Christmastime since 1953. Visitors can see angels, snowflakes, the Three Kings, the Peaceable Kingdom, and more lit up in over 300,000 lights (nearly a third of them are energy-efficient LEDs), free of charge. There is also the Outdoor Creche of Bethlehem with Clopper the Christmas Donkey and concerts with Father Pat and various artists. This year's theme is "Light From Afar."

Gift of Lights at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway—Loudon, NH

November 26, 2020 - January 3, 2021
New Hampshire Motor Speedway is trading in the checkered flags for more than 2.5 million twinkly LED lights for their 10th annual Gift of Lights. You will cruise through 2.5-mile of lights at this drive-thru experience, including the Tunnel of Lights.

See the animals crafted from colored lights at Southwick Zoo's Winter Wonderland. Photo courtesy of the zoo

Southwick Zoo Winter Wonderland—Mendon, MA

November 27, 2020 - January 3, 2021
This year, the Southwick Zoo in turning into a Winter Wonderland you can visit from the safety and warmth of your car. Drive through the Frozen Forest, continue cruising to Whoville to encounter the Grinch, and don’t forget to keep an eye out for the yeti.

Greater Boston Celebration of Lights—Waltham, MA

November 27, 2020 - January 3, 2021
A new holiday drive-thru experience is coming to the Metrowest 'burbs this holiday season. Over 1 mile of roadway in Waltham will be transformed into a glittering display of over 1 million LED lights and animatronic scenes.

Colorful lights guide visitors into the Gardens at Elm Bank. Photo courtesy of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society

Festival of Trees and Snow Village—Wellesley, MA

November 27 - December 20, 2020
Along with trees decorated by Massachusetts Horticultural Society expert gardeners, there is an indoor Snow Village, a model railroad, and stunning outdoor lighting displays throughout the gardens at Elm Bank. There's a fire pit for making s'mores, too.

Winterlights—Stockbridge and Canton

November 27, 2020 - January 2, 2021
Trustees properties featuring magnificent gardens will shimmer with thousands of holiday lights. Along with illuminated paths and treelines, the Stevens-Coolidge Place in North Andover and Naumkeag in Stockbridge will also feature food, refreshments, and family activities. Update: Tickets for Canton Winterlights have sold out.

lluminations Tour—Somerville

2020 update: We are gathering more information about whether this event is happening this year, and will update the post soon.
Somerville residents decorate their homes with festive strings of lights and collections of holiday figurines, transforming our cold winter nights with a blaze of light and beauty. In celebration of this community expression, the Somerville Arts Council conducts the Illuminations Tour, a 45-minute trolley ride featuring the city's brightest displays. The 2019 Tour will be December 14th. Tour leaves from Somerville City Hall where coffee, hot chocolate and cookies are served. There are also craft activities for children and live music.

Blink!—Faneuil Hall

This event is canceled in 2020. Faneuil Hall is planning some special holiday decorations, however. More details to come.
Blink! is a free, state-of-the-art LED light and sound show in which over 350,000 LED lights are choreographed to the music of the Holiday Pops. The 85-foot fir tree in the middle of it all is the biggest in the Northeast. There are five shows each night; you can do some holiday shopping in the Marketplace before or after catching the light show.

The Enchanted Village and LITE—Jordan's Furniture, Avon

This event is canceled in 2020.
This old-fashioned holiday display was created in 1958 for Jordan Marsh Downtown Crossing. It has passed through City Hall Plaza and the Hynes Convention Center, and now is at Jordan’s Furniture, where it has been restored and on display. The surviving collection includes 59 mechanical figurines and 18 vignettes. The Avon campus now includes LITE, the Laser Imagination Theater Experience. Commissioning the country’s foremost experts in laser technology, LITE includes high-powered, solid-state lasers and Hollywood-style special effects, set to music. (Note while the Enchanted Village is free, there is a $6 admission fee for LITE).

Festival of Lights—Edaville, Carver

This event is canceled in 2020.
Edaville is transformed into a winter wonderland of holiday delights for the Christmas season. Passengers can relax comfortably in warm and dry coaches while riding through a spectacular holiday setting featuring an explosion of lights. Plus, enjoy an array of vintage amusement rides and a visit with Santa in one of the indoor play areas.

Winter Wonderland—Boylston

This event is canceled in 2020.
Families can marvel at glittering light displays indoors and out at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, with fifteen miles of lights, decorated trees, fire-pits, thousands of handcrafted ornaments, children's activities, and live music. 

A version of this post was originally published November 2013.

Christmas in July
Massachusetts Horticultural Society - 10:00 AM Pick
National Cheesecake Day Festival
7ate9 Bakery - 10:00 AM Pick
Harbor Illumination
Hull Harbor from A Street to James Landing - 4:30 PM Pick
Boston Lights: A Lantern Experience
Franklin Park Zoo - 6:00 PM Pick
Enchanted Garden Adventure
Stevens-Coolidge Place - various times Pick
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides