Best Neighborhoods Near DC to See Christmas Lights on Houses

Walk the path through the driveway and front yard to see all the decorations at  the Farmer's Christmas House. Photo courtesy of the author
Walk the path through the driveway and front yard to see all the decorations at the Farmer's Christmas House. Photo courtesy of the author

The DC area is brimming with professional holiday and Christmas lights shows, from dazzling drive-thru displays like the Gaithersburg Winter Lights Festival to breathtaking walk-thru shows such as Enchant Christmas at Nationals Park. But sometimes, there's nothing better than the simple joy of loading the family into the car with some hot cocoa, turning on holiday music, and driving around the neighborhood to see Christmas lights on houses. And the best part is, it's free!

Though DC itself offers a treasure trove of dazzling Christmas lights in public places, like Light Yards at Yards Park and the holiday lights competition among the businesses on DC's various Main Streets, we've found that the best neighborhoods to see Christmas lights on houses are in the suburbs. Luckily, there are many neighborhoods in Maryland and Northern Virginia that get way into the holiday spirit. Many of them host animated light shows that are synchronized to music played through car radios, so families can stay warm and cozy inside their vehicles.

Here are some of the best neighborhoods in Maryland and Northern Virginia to see over-the-top Christmas lights on houses.

Best Maryland Neighborhoods to See Christmas Lights on Houses


Rudolph's red nose lights the way at the Crofton Christmas lights display. Photo courtesy of Crofton Christmas, Facebook

Crofton Christmas — Crofton

Six houses on Urby Drive go all-out with the Christmas decorations—even the sidewalk is lined with lights. Young kids will especially love the giant inflatable Rudolph and Clarice.

Bel Air

It's worth a drive to this Baltimore suburb to see three amazing Christmas lights displays, all within a less than 15-minute drive from each other. The Cedar Lane Holiday Light Show at 1111 Cedar Lane includes two 22-foot mega trees, fountains, fog, and lights that are synchronized to holiday music that visitors can listen to from their cars on 107.9 FM. You never know when Santa or the Grinch may show up! The show is free, but the family asks for donations to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Less than 10 minutes away is the Spencer Family Holiday Lights Show at 3107 Nova Scotia Road, which includes nearly 200 blow molds (those old-school plastic holiday figures), inflatables, a mega tree, and roughly 5,000 lights.

You can then make your way over to the Christmas Festival of Lights at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, a drive-up display featuring more than 100,000 Christmas lights synchronized to holiday music. Tune your car radio 107.1 FM. On Fridays through Sunday evenings, families can also go inside the church (masks are required) to see the indoor train garden and enjoy hot cocoa. Donations of non-perishable food items or cash will benefit the church's food pantry.


Miracle on 34th Street has been lighting up Baltimore for nearly 75 years. Photo courtesy of Miracle on 34th Street, Facebook

Miracle on 34th Street — Baltimore

OK, this one's not technically in the suburbs, but we couldn't not include it in this list. Since 1947, the 700 block of 34th Street in Baltimore's Hampden neighborhood has put up over-the-top Christmas lights and decorations, with every house on the block participating. Visiting the street has become a holiday tradition for many families, who flock to see the musical trains, inflatable snow globes, Disney-themed displays, and more. Kids can also take pictures with Santa.

Christmas on Colefair — Silver Spring

This massive Christmas lights display at 13613 Colefair Drive includes lights that are animated to music, singing Christmas trees, two huge light trees, an animated train, painted wooden scenes, and lots more for kids ton delight in.

 
Kids will delight in the huge number of inflatables at Mamulaville. Photo courtesy of Mamulaville, Facebook

Severn

Mamulaville, a Christmas lights display at 1545 Ringe Drive in this Baltimore suburb, includes more than 70 inflatables, lots of light-up arches, and 1,900 feet of lights. About a 10-minute drive from there is the Lights at Elmhurst light show at 7881 Walnut Grove Road, which synchronizes thousands of lights to music played through 88.3 FM.

Best Northern Virginia Neighborhoods to See Christmas Lights on Houses

Old Town Alexandria

Want to feel like you're in a Hallmark Christmas movie? Head to Old Town Alexandria, where the trees lining historic King Street are covered with lights and the storefronts are decked out to the nines. Then, stroll along the red-brick sidewalks of the residential side streets, including S. Fairfax Street and Lee Street, to see the charming decorations on homes. Be sure to stop by the historic Carlyle House to see its dancing white lights and glowing garden oasis. You can also see the giant holiday trees at Triangle Park at the corner of King and Fayette streets and at Market Square at 301 King Street.

 
Just try to find an inch of the Farmer's Christmas House that's not decorated—we dare you! Photo courtesy of the author

Farmer's Christmas House — Alexandria

Nearly every inch of this house at 2507 Fairview Drive—including the roof and the driveway—is covered with lights, inflatables, light-up sculptures, and more. Visitors can get out of their cars and walk through the displays in the front yard and on the porch, where kids will be thrilled to find a bevy of Disney, Star Wars, and other characters. It is the perfect free activity for families, though owner Kurt Farmer did set up a GoFundMe to improve and add to the display.

Del Ray

Head to Alexandria's Del Ray neighborhood to check out Holiday Card Lane. Neighbors on East Luray Avenue between Mount Vernon Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue, and some on East Alexandria Avenue and beyond, display giant, colorful holiday cards in their front yards. There will also be plenty of lights and holiday music, as well as live carolers starting at 6pm on December 16.

Herndon

In Herndon, two houses on Brass Harness Court team up to present the Flintwood Holiday Lights, a light show that's coordinated with Christmas music that families can listen to through their car speakers. (Several nearby houses are done up, too). You can also head to the Fox Mill neighborhood, where the houses are trying to outdo each other to win the neighborhood decorating contest. Be sure to hit up Viking Road! And at 12708 Kettering Drive, you'll find a working model train, a dancing snowman and Santa, and more that will dazzle kids.


You never know when Santa will drop by the Ni Family Lights show. Photo courtesy of Ni Family Lights, Facebook

Ni Family Lights — Vienna

This house at 2528 Drexel Street in Vienna puts on a 30-minute animated light show with a very unique feature—a giant tree with pixelated cartoons that dance along to the music. Visitors can tune their radios to 90.3 FM to hear the music from their cars, or get out and listen to the songs through the speakers in front of the house. The changing playlist includes some Christmas music, but kids will especially delight in the songs from popular movies like Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Greatest Showman, and Wreck-It Ralph.

Marshall Pond Christmas Village — Burke

An entire pipe stem off Marshall Pond Roadteams up to create Santa's Village. Nearly every house is covered with lights, inflatables, Christmas sculptures, and more. Beginning December 14, Santa himself makes several visits to take pictures with kids (check the Facebook page for the schedule), and homeowners sometimes serve hot cocoa. It is truly a sight to behold.

Annandale

Tune your car radio to 88.1 FM to enjoy the spectacular light show at 3912 Lincolnshire Street. The house is covered with dazzling Christmas lights that blink and change colors along to the music. As a bonus, most of the neighbors' houses on the street are lit up as well. To watch a second light show, drive less than 10 minutes to 8505 Forest Street and change the radio to 101.5 FM. The lights that cover the house, the archways along the driveway, and the trees change colors as they "dance" along to a kid-friendly holiday playlist that includes songs like "Let It Go," "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," and "Run Run Rudolph." The show lasts about 35 minutes.

Outdoor Family Storytime at Noyes Library
Noyes Library for Young Children - 9:30 AM Pick
Preschool Storytime at Herndon Library
Herndon Fortnightly Library - 10:30 AM
Pixelbloom
Artechouse - 10:00 AM
Story Time at Union Market
Union Market - 10:30 AM
Food for the People: Eating and Activism in Greater Washington
Anacostia Community Museum - various times
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides