There will a new drive-thru lights display in Wallingford. Photo courtesy of Magic of Lights
There will a new drive-thru lights display in Wallingford. Photo courtesy of Magic of Lights

Connecticut's Best Holiday Drive-Thrus and Christmas Light Displays

There is something magical about a holiday or Christmas light display, and Connecticut is home to some of the grandest glowing displays in New England. New for 2020, Connecticut families can enjoy a festive and flashing light show from the comfort of their cars at the Magic of Lights Drive Thru in Wallingford or Santa Lights of the Lake Drive Thru in Bristol. You and the kids can even have a truly "2020" experience by decorating your car (and yourselves!) with some creative, twinkly accessories and being the parade at the Reverse Light Parade in Putnam!

For DIY (but no less sparkly) holiday light displays, check out our list of Connecticut homes with amazing Christmas light displays, including the famous Wonderland of Roseville. There are more ways to see twinkly lights and enjoy safe, socially distant festive family activities our Connecticut Holiday and Christmas Fun Guide, including a list of best holiday experiences for Connecticut kids in 2020

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.

Holiday Lights in the Fairfield Area

Light the Lights—Danbury
2020 Update: We’re working to confirm this event for 2020 and will update this listing as soon as we have more information.
This nostalgic trip down Main Street is always a crowd pleaser. Santa will arrive in a firetruck, and children will enjoy cookies, carols, and more before the lighted parade. Welcome Santa for the season!

Families can enjoy a magical walk outdoors to discover glowing displays at the Festival of Silver Lights. Photo courtesy of Hubbard Park

Holiday Lights in the Hartford Area

Holiday Light FantasiaHartford
November 26, 2020 - January 3, 2021
Holiday Light Fantasia is a much loved Greater Hartford tradition. The 2-mile show transforms Goodwin Park into a drive-thru wonderland of holiday spirit with a beautiful collection of over 1 million lights.

Torchlight ParadeWindsor Locks
December 5, 2020
The Torchlight parade of more than 20 vehicles and marchers will begin on Capen Street and progress down Broad Street through the town center with lights, music, and fanciful decorations.

Meriden Yulefest and Holiday Market - Meriden
December 5, 2020
Come stroll around the Green and shop at many vendor sites and food trucks.

Santa Lights up the Lake Drive-Through - Bristol 
December 10- December 13, 2020
See Santa and his elves from the comfort and safety of your own car.  Hear him talking to you and your children on your car radio.  See lights, displays, and characters as you drive around Indian Lake.

Winterfest —Hartford
2020 Update: We’re working to confirm this event for 2020 and will update this listing as soon as we have more information.
Formerly known as the Festival of Lights, Winterfest features an array of dazzling lights illuminating Bushnell Park. While you are there, enjoy the free ice skating and free skate rentals at the lighted Winterfest Hartford rink, open daily now through January, and visit Santa at the Pump House Gallery on weekends.

The Festival of Silver LightsMeriden
2020 Update: We’re working to confirm this event for 2020 and will update this listing as soon as we have more information.
Located at Hubbard Park, you can walk or drive the loop that goes around Mirror Lake and other tiny roads.  The display is filled with more than 200 figurines and 350,000 twinkling white lights around the park. It is open daily.

Holiday LightsBristol
2020 Update: This event is canceled this year.
Located at Lake Compounce theme park, Holiday Lights is a fun holiday event that transforms the amusement park into a winter wonderland filled with thousands of lights, entertainment, and activities. Some of the festivities include a spectacular light show that runs every half hour and the usual Lake Compounce train turned into the North Pole Express. Family-themed rides will be in operation. There will also be indoor activities such as gingerbread house making, photos with Santa, and cookie decorating. They also boast the state's tallest Christmas tree.

Winterfest and the Tunnel of LightsEast Windsor
2020 Update: We’re working to confirm this event for 2020 and will update this listing as soon as we have more information.
You and your family are invited to enjoy Winterfest. Ride a restored trolley as you travel through a tunnel of colored lights. Return to the winter wonderland that features model trains, entertainment, refreshments, and a visit with Santa. Open weekends through December 30.

Christmas Village will have lights, but no toy shower or opening day parade this year. Photo courtesy of City of Torrington 

Holiday Lights in the Litchfield Area

Christmas Village —Torrington 
December 13 - December 24
2020 Update: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no in-person Toy Shower or Opening Day Parade in 2020.
Head to Church Street and find that special house where Santa, Mrs. Claus, and elves await. This free holiday attraction has been a tradition since 1947. Check the Parks and Recreation website for more information.

A Christmas Town Festival - Bethlehem
December 4 - December 5, 2020 
This Christmas celebration features free parking, outdoor music performances, tree lighting, take your own safe distance photos with Santa, a 5K road race, and food and refreshments.

New Milford Tree Lighting - New Milford
2020 Update: We’re working to confirm this event for 2020 and will update this listing as soon as we have more information.
Join the Chamber of Commerce for their 53rd annual Trees on the Green event. Santa will be making a visit! 

More than 100,000 lights are aglow in New Haven. Photo courtesy of Lighthouse Point Park Fantasy of Lights

Holiday Lights in the New Haven Area

Magic of Lights at the Toyota Oakdale - Wallingford 
November 13, 2020 - January 2, 2021
The Magic of Lights is a spectacular 1-mile drive-through holiday lights display featuring various holiday-themed light displays using the latest LED technology and digital animations.

Fantasy of LightsNew Haven
November 20 - December 31, 2020
Held at Lighthouse Park, unique lit displays include 100,000 lights and 80 animated displays. Purchase 3D glasses so you can enjoy some of the lights in an even more thrilling way.

Shoreline Trolley Museum East Haven
November 27 - December 20, 2020
The museum's trolleys will be decked out for the holidays. All children will receive a small gift from Santa.

Firelight FestivalGuilford
2020 Update: We’re working to confirm this event for 2020 and will update this listing as soon as we have more information.
A quiet appreciation of the holiday spirit includes a festive luminaria, lanterns, popcorn and an outdoor fire. The will be a reading of "The Night Before Christmas." The cozy event is located at the Henry Whitfield House Museum.

Festival of Lights turns Mystic into a winter wonderland. Photo courtesy of Olde Mistick Village

Holiday Lights in Eastern CT

Holiday Dazzle Reverse Light Parade  - Putnam 
November 29, 2020 
For 2020, the traditional Holiday Dazzle Light Parade will be in reverse. A "reverse parade" is where the family can enjoy this fun holiday tradition from their car with floats, music, and lights galore to kick-off the holiday season in brilliant style.

Festival of Lights - Mystic 
December 11, 2020
Walk through this winter wonderland beginning at dusk when thousands of luminaries light the walkways and the surrounding area.

Northern Lights at the Mystic Aquarium - Mystic
2020 Update: We’re working to confirm this event for 2020 and will update this listing as soon as we have more information.
Mystic Aquarium will be decked out in lighted pathways for you to follow. See the Arctic Animals lit up and search for hand-crafted lanterns.

Mystic Tree Lighting and Lighted Boat Parade - Mystic
2020 Update: This event has been canceled 
A unique way to bring in the holidays, this beloved event features Santa arriving in a legion of lit boats at 2pm. Later in the day, the Mystic tree will be lit as well. Boats will be given awards for creativity and team spirit.

 
 
 
 

Original published December, 2016 

Places featured in this article:


Lighthouse Point Park

Shore Line Trolley Museum

Light up Middletown

Sand Hill Road Holiday of Lights

First Congregational Church of Meriden
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides