For some of us, it's a struggle to string our own little Christmas trees without losing a bulb (or our tempers). Others—including some of our Boston neighbors—are veritable pros at decking out their homes for the holidays. All over Boston and the 'burbs, there are spectacular public holiday light displays, but also families who've made a tradition of creating special sparkle on their own properties. So next time you have a free evening, pack some hot chocolate in a thermos, buckle up the kids, and take a road trip to see some of these joyful dwellings. It's sure to inspire holiday spirit (and maybe some ideas for your own abode). Note that some homes and neighborhoods might be still finalizing displays or take periodic days off...drop us a tip at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any updates.
Lynn Fells Parkway—Saugus
Residents along Lynn Fells Parkway have been lighting up their lawns for the past half-century, and the illuminated extravaganza seems to shine brighter every year. Many Boston families, especially north of town, make an annual drive on the Parkway between Melrose to Route 1 to see the show. There are reindeers, candy canes, rooftop displays, and more to see.
Dueling decor on Pleasant Street in Belmont; photo by Kelley Heyworth
For years, neighboring families living at the intersection of Pleasant and Munroe in Belmont have had a friendly competition of Christmas displays. It's fun to take the kids and have them decide which they like best. Number 441 shines in the evergreen tree department; number 429 has the most fun figurines.
The Arthur Street display is so popular that Danvers puts out traffic alerts related to it over the holiday season. Photo courtesy of Danvers Lights Facebook page
Another pair of jolly neighbors put on a side-by-side show through the Christmas season. The spectacle at numbers 3 and 5 Arthur is free, but the families welcome donations for Boston Children's Hospital. Distinct for its rooftop designs, the scene illuminates promptly at 4:30 every day through New Year's Day.
Somerville decorates to the nines. Photo by Andrew Malone/CC BY 2.0
So storied is the tradition of bedecking homes in Somerville that there's actually a trolley ride you can take from City Hall to check out the flashiest homes in the 'hood. If you want to do the self-guided tour, check out Robinson Road, Preston Road, Central (near Medford and Forster), Springfield Street, and Otis Street.
The Canale home was one of the first showstopper holiday displays in the area. Photo courtesy of Canale Family
Norton Street—Hyde Park
The Canales have taken Christmas decor to the next level for decades, and now welcome donations to the Dana-Farber Cancer Center in honor of the family's patriarch who started it all. Look for dancing reindeer on the roof and lots of figurines in the side yard; there's always a sign with a radio station to tune into for accompanying music. Sometimes, the family hands out candy canes, and Santa has even been known to make an appearance.
There's a light show at Light Street Court this year. Photo courtesy of Gary O'Donnell
Light Street Court—Lynn
When Gary O'Donnell moved to the neighborhood in 2010, he was dismayed by its lack of Christmas spirit. He started decorating his home that year, and neighbors were inspired to follow suit. In recent years, O'Donnell has upped the ante with candy cane pinwheel lights, illuminated trees in his balcony and backyard, and a light show, which kicks off on Dec. 2 this year.
No silent night here. Animatronic penguins "lip sync" holiday tunes at the Schmidt home, and it's not rare to see a child dancing along outside. There's also Santa, white lights mimicking snow, and other wonders at the property, which is decked out early and often each day through the holiday season.
Adams Street sparkles with more than 20,000 lights. Photo courtesy of Lauren (LauMalo83) via Twitter
On Adams Street near Victory Road, the Nguyen family's annual show includes neon lighting, than 20,000 lights, and a handcrafted manger.
Look for projected Christmas scenes, Mickey and Minnie, and an illuminated fence, among other twinkling details, at Railroad and Hardy Street.
Crazy Tech Christmas display, Bridal Path, Lakeville. Photo courtesy of crazytechchristmas.com
Some homes shine with old-fashioned glitz; others, like this gem in Lakeville, take holiday lighting into the 21st century. Owners have special software to create a light show that stretches across the family's large lawn, with strobe effects and music transmitted to an FM station. They have even set up a webpage for visitors to let you know if the lights are fully on and functioning.
Bainbridge Street, Malden
The same family that has been spooking locals out with scary Halloween decor in recent years are perhaps even better known for their holiday light displays. Look for a lot of lights in traditional white, red, and green, as well as illuminated wreaths, snowmen, and Santa.
Top photo by Anthony92931 via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0