Top 11 Cities for Christmas Lights

Each city in the country has its own traditions and celebrations for the holidays, but for some, it’s a yearlong wait for their shining moment on the calendar. Here are the best cities to explore the wonderful holiday of Christmas. 

#1 Chicago, IL

Christmas cheer in Chicago begins when the Chriskindlmarket fills Daley Center Plaza with the aroma of authentic German food (sausages, sauerkraut, and hot-spiced wine). Visitors will also find artisan handicrafts, and of course thousands of Christmas lights and a stunning tree centerpiece.

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#2 Detroit, MI

During the Holiday's, a visit to the Campus Martius Park is a must see. It is located in the center of downtown, there you will see there 60-foot spruce tree covered in lights and the best ice skating in all off Detroit. The Detroit zoo holds, "wild lights" every year in front of the zoo, the buildings, trees, and animal sculptures are all lit up. After that, catch a trolley and see all the local lights through towns.

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#3 Nashville, TN

It’s no surprise that Music City’s best holiday lights would be inside the Opryland Hotel directly next to the legendary music venue, the Grand Ole Opry. The interior is covered with two million bulbs and decorations that easily rival New York’s Macy’s Herald Square.

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#4 Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia beach takes part in the "100 miles of lights" their boardwalk is one of the highlights through the 100 miles. There are also lights on the beach with music to match it on local radio stations. It is whale season in the winter, so you can enjoy lights, music and whale sitings along the beach. If that isn't enough make your way back to town for their annual Christmas parade.

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#6 Wilmington, NC

Wilmington is a coastal city with small town charm, and a Christmas lights scene to match. Christmas By the Sea decorates the boardwalks along Carolina Beach from Thanksgiving through Christmas, though visitors can see plenty of holiday spirit simply strolling through Historic Downtown or taking a tour by candlelight.

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#7 Richmond, VA

If you’re looking for fantastically tacky Christmas displays, Richmond takes the cake with its “Tacky Lights Tour.” Starting December 2nd, the city and its most enthusiastic families swallow an unfathomable electric bill to impress locals and visitors alike.

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#8 Orlando, FL

Disney may be the top stop for the full Christmas experience in Orlando, there is more. There is a 72-foot Christmas tree next to Lake Eola for its light show that matches the local radio station every hour. The Winter Park and Baldwin Park have lights up, so you can enjoy this while strolling through the park. Moss Park has its annual "Light Up the World" Christmas experience, which is worth the crowd to see.

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#9 Albuquerque, NM

The ABQ BioPark’s “River of Lights” is the go-to spectacle in the city’s Botanic Garden. It takes eight miles of extension cords and two million bulbs (40 percent of which are energy saving LEDs) to construct New Mexico’s largest walk-through light show. Here, you can admire some 400 light sculptures including animated and 3D animals and characters. The Garden’s Rio Train Line turns into a “Polar Bear Express” serving hot chocolate while taking visitors through the park from the station to the beginning of the River of Lights

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#10 Salt Lake City, UT

The smallest city on the list packs in twice the Christmas spirit. Downtown Salt Lake City gets plenty of gorgeous holiday lighting treatment from Main Street to Broadway Boulevard, but the focal point is easily the 35-acre Temple Square. Take in the lights while sipping hot cocoa in the Garden, eating potpie at Nauvoo Cafe, or strolling along to take in the view of Salt Lake Temple itself.

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#11 New York City, NY

New York City is something of a mecca for Christmas light enthusiasts; with its perpetual (some might say exorbitant) luminescence everywhere you turn. There’s the quintessential Rockefeller Center Tree, Macy’s flagship Herald Square facade, an LED tree above the flashing marquees of Radio City Music Hall, and Bryant Park’s Winter Village and ice rink. You’ll find that every street has some manner of lights or giant decorations from Thanksgiving through early January.

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