As Coldplay once sang, “Oh Christmas lights, keep shining on.” We’re shining a light on seven places to see holiday lights in Virginia, as well as two extra spots right outside of Virginia but still close enough to count!
The holidays are just around the corner, and what better way to get into the spirit than by going to visit a light show? We’ll even give you bonus points if you take your pet to see the lights, because it is a truly mesmerizing experience, whether you’re a human or an animal.
We’ve compiled a list of places throughout Virginia that put on a sparkling presentation, as well as some places that are just close enough to the commonwealth to count. If you’re not in the holiday spirit just yet, don’t fret! Many of these lights will be up past Christmas and into 2023.
The GardenFest of Lights is always an annual delight. This year’s theme is “Seed of Lights,” where millions of lights transform the botanical garden into a twinkly paradise. The Ginter Gardens staff says that “part of the magic of winter nights is how a twinkle of light can transform the darkness.” This year, the Ginter Lights have been voted the second-best light show by USA Today!
Celebration in Lights has been billed as “Virginia’s first drive-through holiday light event.” It’s now in its 30th season, and more than a million lights illuminate Newport News Park. This year, there are many new displays, and even though it’s just a two-mile drive, it certainly doesn’t feel like one.
The Veritas Winery has been transformed into a magical wonderland where you can walk through the woods and the vineyard, all aglow with lights. There are lights everywhere and you can also enjoy a stop at the Tasting Room before (or after) your trek.
High Country Lights is a musical light show that’s free to go through. It’s a family-friendly display that’s certain to delight children, including those who are young at heart. Like many of the other light shows, this one is open through Jan. 1 to bring cheer to you even after Christmas is over.
Now in its 11th year, this garden trail illuminates a half-mile trek through the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. There are serene nature themes and animated displays in the gardens where you can sip a nice, hot beverage of your choice while gazing up at all the pretty lights.
This Virginia-adjacent light show is a short trek across the border at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee. Even though it’s a four-mile path, it doesn’t seem like it! When you’re not being dazzled by the three million lights on display, perhaps you’ll be dazzled by the fact that you actually get a chance to drive on a real NASCAR track: “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile.” This light show also features an ice rink and a Christmas Village for folks to explore before or after driving through the mesmerizing lights.
Even though the indoor animal exhibits are closed so the animals can get a “good night’s rest,” there’s still a lot to take in at the Smithsonian’s ZooLights. There are plenty of winter treats and goodies to go around while you marvel at the animal-themed lights, and the Speedwell Conservation Carousel will also be open…provided temperatures are above 35 degrees. This is another Virginia-adjacent light show that is worth trekking to.