Holiday Time

Only in the South: Celebrate the Arrival of 2020 with Unique New Year's Eve Drops (December 2019)

Log on to Cyber Monday Deals (December 2019)

Southern Hospitality Traveler's Favorite Things About October (October 2019)

Honor the Red, White and Blue in the South with Independence Day Celebrations (July 2019)

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler! Celebrating Mardi Gras 2019 (February 2019)

Pickle, Pelican or Peach: The Many Unique Ways the South Welcomes in the New Year (December 2018)

Get Into the Holiday Spirit with the 29th Annual Smoky Mountain Winterfest (November 2018)

17 Celebrations Honoring the Red, White and Blue (June 2018)

Celebrate Mom this Mother's Day with Getaways and Experiences (May 2018)

"Throw me Somethin' Mister!" Celebrating Mardi Gras 2018 (January 2018)

Beach Ball, Fleur-De-Lis, MoonPie: Unique New Year's Eve Drops in the South (December 2017)

25 Festive Events to Keep that Holiday Feeling Through the New Year (December 2017)

Awe-Inspiring Gingerbread Displays at Various Hotels and Resorts Around the South (December 2017)

Fun and Fireworks: 14 Events Celebrating Independence Day (June 2017)

Celebrate 2017 Mardi Gras in the South (February 2017)

Three Festive Ways to Avoid Going Stir Crazy Before the Holidays (December 2016)

30 Ways to Get Your "Jingle" On in the South (December 2016)

Five Ways to Experience the Holidays "Louisiana-Style" (December 2016)

"Brighten Up" Your Holidays with These Holiday Light Displays (November 2016)

Red, White, Blue and You: Fourth of July Celebrations in the South (July 2016)

Drops, Celebrations and More: Memorable Ways to Welcome in 2016 (December 2015)

Spark Your Holiday Spirit with the Many Events Happening Around the South (December 2015)

Six Places to Celebrate the Holiday Season (December 2015)

So Many Ways to Kick Off the Holiday Season in the South (November 2015)

14 Dazzling Holiday Light Displays Throughout the South to Enjoy Now (November 2015)

Celebrate the Holidays in Minden and North Louisiana with the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights (November 2015)

New Twist on an Old Favorite: Amping Up the Grilled Cheese (April 2015)

Celebrate National Soup Month Anytime with Recipes from Benchmark Resorts & Hotels (January 2015)

Move Over Ball Drop - This is How the South Welcomes in the New Year (December 2014)

Ways to Get Your Holiday On in the South (December 2014)

Liven Up Your Thanksgiving Meal with Some Myrtle Beach, S.C.-Style Comfort Foods (November 2014)

Warm Up the Days and the Nights with These Chili Recipes (October 2014)

Creating the Perfect Cheeseburger with Crawford Ker on National Cheeseburger Day (September 2014)

Celebrate National Martini Day with these Recipes (June 2014)

It's Great to be King...Celebrating Mardi Season with King Cake Creations (February 2014)

Celebrate Your Valentine with a Getaway (February 2014)

A MoonPie, Pickle, Red Stick and More...Welcoming in the New Year in the South (December 2013)

Celebrate the Holidays with a New Orleans' Reveillon Dinner (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide...Packages and Escapes (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Books (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Food and Beverage (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Made in the South (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Experiences in the South (December 2013)

End Your Holiday Meal on a Sweet Note courtesy of Chef Sara Thomas (November 2013)

From Their Table to Yours: Holiday Recipes from The Carolina Inn (November 2013)

Firing Up the Grill: Tips and Recipes for a Successful and Tasty Grilling Season (May 2013)

Breakfast for Mom, Southern-Style (May 2013)

Mom-Worthy Hotels in the South (May 2013)

Talkin' Mardi Gras, Shreveport, La. Style (February 2013)

Southern Style: 13 Things You Must Do in 2013 (January 2013)

Holiday Joy: Tips for Creating the Perfect Gingerbread House (December 2012)

Absolutely Southern Gift Guide: Secret is in the Sauce at Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley (December 2012)

Absolutely Southern Gift Guide: Make It Memorable and Give the Gift of an Experience (December 2012)

8 Reasons to Visit Louisiana’s Holiday Trail of Lights this Season (December 2012)

Absolutely Southern Gift Guide: Chef's Table at Emeril's Delmonico (December 2012)

Absolutely Southern Gift Guide: Simply Ballastone Cookbook (November 2012)

Treat Your Mom to One of These Eight Southern Destinations (May 2012)

Seeing Various Shades of Green: St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations in the South (March 2012)

It’s Mardi Gras Time in the South (February 2012)

Celebrate Elvis Presley’s Birthday in the South (January 2012)

A MoonPie, a Pickle, a Horseshoe and More: Ringing in the New Year Southern-Style (December 2011)

Celebrate the Holidays New Orleans-Style with a Reveillon Dinner (December 2011)

"Treat" Yourself this Holiday Season with (November 2011)

Holiday Fun in the South After Thanksgiving (November 2011)

Holiday Fun at Gaylord Opryland (November 2011)

Tours and Treats Along Virginia’s Inn to Inn Cookie Trail and Tour (November 2011)

Celebrating Milestones in the South (August 2010)

5 Activities that Add a "Sizzle" to Your Summer Vacation (June 2010)

Forget Gifts, Give Experiences This Mother’s Day (April 2010)

Celebrating Mardi Gras 2010 (February 2010)

Published: November 2016
"Brighten Up" Your Holidays with These Holiday Light Displays  



The holiday season has arrived, and destinations across the South are showing off their holiday spirit with dazzling holiday light displays.

Here's a round-up of some that are guaranteed to "brighten up" your holidays.

What: Shepards of the Hills Trail of Lights
Where: Branson, Mo.
When: through December 31; starts at dusk, admission prices vary
The two-and-a-half mile drive takes you through the 160-acre Shepherd of the Hills Homestead ( View lighted displays, animated scenes; and of course, lots and lots of lights. Don't miss Inspiration Tower, where you can enjoy the view from above.
Bonus: Add in the Christmas on the Trail Chuckwagon Dinner Show to get the overall experience.

What: Celebration of Lights
Where: O'Fallon, Mo.
When: through Dec. 30; Sunday, Tuesday through Thursday, 6 - 9 p.m. (excludes Dec. 13), Friday through Saturday, 6 - 10 p.m., Mondays only open to train, wagon and sleigh-hayrides (advance reservation required); admission fees vary
Fort Zumwalt Park is transformed into a holiday wonderland with lights and displays. Enjoy the scenes from your car or make prior arrangements for a train, wagon or sleigh-hayrides available on Mondays.
Bonus: For those who like to walk, Celebration of Lights is hosting an Old-Fashioned Holiday Stroll on Mon., Dec. 12 and Tues., Dec. 13, 6 - 9 p.m. It's $3 per person.

What: Lights of the Delta holiday_lights__blytheville01
Where: Blytheville, Ark.
When: through Dec. 27; Sunday through Thursday, 5:30 - 9 p.m., Friday through Saturday, 5:30 - 10 p.m., prices vary
Considered to be one of the mid-South's largest light displays, over six million lights and nearly 50 motion displays are situated on 40-acres. You can drive the 1.5 miles or opt for a hayride.

Bonus: Lights of the Delta is one of the highlights of the Arkansas Trail of Holiday Lights. Around 60 communities throughout the state participate, offering everything from illuminated displays, open houses, concerts and more.

What: Austin Trail of Lights
Where: Austin, Texas
When: Dec. 10 -23; 7 - 10 p.m. nightly, prices vary
Based at Zilker Park, the 1.25 walkable trail features two million lights and over 40 displays. As one of the three largest events in Austin, it's kept the city bright for 52 years.
Bonus: Make a holiday experience to remember with the Austin Trail of Lights and Holiday Shopping Package. Not only does this include a Priority Zip admission to the trail, but also a VIP amenity bundle at The Domain.

What: Christmas Light Fest
Where: Boerne, Texas
When: through Dec. 31; Sunday through Thursday, 6 - 9 p.m., Friday - Saturday, 6 - 10 p.m., $27 per vehicle.
Bask in the glow of two million lights along a two-mile stretch along Don Strange Ranch. For something different, make reservations to see the lights on a hayride.
Bonus: Be sure to stop by Santa's Village for snacks and shopping. Santa is scheduled to make an appearance Dec. 2 - 3, 9-10 and every night Dec. 16 -24. Bring your camera to get your picture with him, which is free of charge.

What: 2016 Magical Winter Lights
Where: La Marque, Texas
When: through Jan. 8, 2017; Monday through Thursday, 5 - 10 p.m., Friday through Sunday, 3 - 11 p.m., admission fees vary
Over 100 scenes are found within the six themed sections that include Landmarks of the World  and Man and Nature at Gulf Greyhound Park. There is even a Dinosaur Land featuring dino rides.
Bonus: Don't miss out on the extras like carnival rides and games, Chinese arts and crafts and more.

What: Southern Lights
Where: Southaven, Miss.
When: through Dec. 31; Monday through Friday dark - 9 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday, dark to 10:00 pm; from Dec. 19 through Dec. 31,
weekdays, dark to 10:00 p.m. and weekends dark to 11:00 p.m.
Over 500,000 twinkling lights adorn the 116-acre Central Park. Tune into one of five FM stations playing Christmas tunes as you make you way through Southern Lights.
Bonus: You'll definitely get into the holiday spirit when you watch the lights at the Christmas Tree Farm "dance" to music by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

What: Christmas in Cotton Plant
Where: Blue Mountain, Miss.
When: through Dec. 17; Thursday through Saturday, 6 - 9 p.m., open every day Dec. 18 - 25 (closed Dec. 24)
Featured on TLC's "My Crazy Obsession" in 2012, Christmas in Cotton Plant is unique. Family-ran, it includes over 500 inflatables and 300,000 lights on nearly 13-acres. Drive through or take the walkway.
Bonus: Stop in the Elf Cafe to get some treats, then visit with Santa at Santa's House.

What: Snowflakes in the Bay
When: through Jan. 1, 2017, nightly
Where: Hancock County, Miss.
The century-old Live Oaks in Bay St. Louis and Waveland glow with as they are decorated with illuminated snowflakes.
Bonus: Be sure to check out all of the holiday events happening around Mississippi's West Coast.

What: Holiday Spectacular Park
When: Dec. 1 - 31; 5:30 - 9:30 p.m., admission varies
Where: Wicksburg, Ala.
Lights, lights and more lights - over 14 million actually- decorate Holiday Spectacular Park. Enjoy the holiday scenes as you stroll the grounds.
Bonus: There are plenty of activities to enjoy while visiting, including scheduled events and concerts. On Christmas Eve, Holiday Spectacular Park hosts a fireworks show, and on New Year's Eve as well with a special concert.

What: Christmas at the Falls
When: through Dec. 23; 5 - 9 p.m., $6, and ages 3 and under are free.
Where: Gadsden, Ala.
Noccalula Falls transforms itself into a holiday wonderland with million of lights. Walk or take the train to view them.
Bonus: Don't overlook the special events like Greet the Grinch” will allow visitors to meet the popular character from “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” on Dec. 3, 10 -11, 17-18 and more.

bristol-motor-speedway2What: Speedway in Lights
When: through Jan. 7, 2017; 6 - 10 p.m., price varies
Where: Bristol, Tenn.
Considered to be the largest holiday light show in the South, the four-mile drive-through features two million lights.
Bonus: Want to see the lights, but short on time? Consider purchasing a Jingle Bell Lane fast pass.

What: Enchanted Garden of Lights
When: through Dec. 31; 6 - 9 p.m., admission varies
Where: Chattanooga, Tenn.
Which themed realm will you visit first? Yule Town or Magic Forest? Perhaps Artic Region? Wherever you decide to begin your journey in the Enchanted Garden of Lights, you won't be disappointed.
Bonus: From Holiday Marketplace vendors to nightly music to gingerbread cookie decorating, there are plenty of activities for both adults and children.

What: Starry Nights at Shelby Farms
When: through Dec. 27; Sunday through Thursday, 6 - 9 p.m., Friday through Saturday, 6 -10 p.m., $20 per car
Where: Memphis, Tenn.
It's the biggest holiday light show and festival in the region, and the thousands of LEDs powers at Starry Nights at Shelby Farms powers the park. There is also a Mistletoe Village, a petting zoo ($3 per person, $1 to feed the animals), camel rides ($5 per person) and more.
Bonus: On December 10, Memphis Astronomical Society will have telescopes set up in Mistletoe Village to view the Moon, Venus, Mars and the Great Nebula in Orion. While viewing is free, Starry Nights admission fee still applies.

What: Lights of the South
When: through Dec. 30; 6 - 10 p.m., admission varies
Where: Grovetown, Ga.
Walk or take a hay ride to see the over five million lights at Lights of the South. While the lights are the main attraction, there is much more to do. Kids can work off some energy by playing in Candy Land, find your way through the Christmas Tree Maze, roast marshmallows over an open fire and more.
Bonus: Be sure to snap a photo of the American Flag. It's the world's largest vertical American Flag made out of Christmas lights.

What: Holiday Lights Spectacular
When: through Dec. 30; times and admission fee varies
Where: Hampton, Ga.
Atlanta Motor Speedway warmly glows from the three million lights that make up Holiday Lights Spectacular. Gaze at them as you drive through various holiday and winter scenes. See the lights in a different way by purchasing a pair of holographic glasses ($2.) Round out the visit with a stop at Santa's Village.
Bonus: Check the calendar for special events like Cookies for a Cause (Dec. 2, 9, 16 and 23) and movie night (Dec. 10, 17).

lakelanierWhat: Magical Lights Tour at Winter Adventure
When: through Jan. 8, 2017, $45 per car ($36 per car with advance purchase)
Where: Lake Lanier in Buford, Ga.
Seven miles of holiday light displays that include toy soldiers and a snowflake bridge leads you to Santa’s Village. At the village, you can shop, indulge in holiday treats, roast marshmallows and make s’mores at the fire pits. Don't pass up the opportunity to visit with Santa. You can also enjoy a live nativity (through Dec. 23).
Bonus: Spend the day at Lake Lanier and enjoy the Winter Adventure that includes Bubble Skate, carnival rides, Battle Ball and more. Admission price varies. Want to sleep over? Check out the winter packages

What: Lights of Life
When: through Dec. 31; Monday through Thursday, $5 per car, Friday through Sunday, $10 per car; 6 - 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 6 - 10 p.m., Friday through Sunday
Where: Marietta, Ga.
Over a million lights span over a mile of Life University's campus during the annual Lights of LIFE.
Bonus: It is said that the 65-foot tall rendition of Santa and his sleigh is the tallest display in the Southeast.

What: Country Christmas in Lights
When: Dec. 9-10, 16, 17, 19; admission price varies
Where: The Rock, Ga.
Climb aboard the tractor or trolley at The Rock Ranch and bask in the glow from over a mile of holiday lights decorating the farm.
Bonus: You can drive-thru at in your own vehicle on select days: Dec. 1- 8, Dec. 11-15, 18 and 20 - 31. $5 per vehicle

What: Suwannee Lights
When: Dec. 3 - 24; nightly, 6 - 10 p.m., ticket price varies
Where: Live Oak, Fla.
Sparkle, twinkle, sparkle aplenty with over 6.5 million lights and displays at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park's Suwannee Lights. Be sure to visit the Craft Village for gift ideas.
Bonus: Try to arrange your visit so that you can also enjoy some live music entertainment.

What: Jax Illuminations
When: through Jan. 1, 2017; nightly, $20 per car
Where: Jacksonville, Fla.
Tune in and turn up your radio as you drive thru Jax Illuminations. Watch as the half million lights on the mile long stretch dance in time to the holiday music.
Bonus: Jax Illuminations is located two miles from St. John's Town Center. Get your holiday shopping down before or after enjoying the lights.

What: Light Up UCF
When: through Jan. 7, 2017; times and admission price varies
Where: Orlando, Fla.
Billing itself as "50 Nights of Music, Lights and Ice," Light Up UCF is more than lights. But that isn't saying the lights aren't important because they are, and you can see the show nightly starting at 6 p.m. There's ice-skating, a Ferris wheel, holiday marketplace and more.
Bonus: The free Holiday Film Festival feature holiday classics. Films are screened on Fridays and Saturdays, 7 and 9:30 p.m.

What: Anderson Christmas Lights
When: through Dec. 25; nightly, 5:30 - 10 p.m., $10 per car
Where: Anderson, S.C.
It's 2.4 miles of over a million multi-colored lights and fun during the annual Anderson Christmas Light. Visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, roast marshmallows and enjoy hot chocolate.
Bonus: Check the calendar for scheduled live entertainment.

What: Holiday Lights
When: through Dec. 31; nightly, 6 - 10 p.m., $15 per car
Where: Columbia, S.C.
Regarded as the Midlands largest drive-thru lights show, Holiday Lights at Saluda Shoals Park features plenty of lights and over 400 animated light displays. There is also a Wetland Walking Trail ($1 per person for hayride shuttle) with a laser show.
Bonus: New this year to Holiday Lights is a Tube Slide ($2 per slide) and ice skating rink ($5 per person.)

What: Roper Mountain Holiday Lights
When: through Dec. 30; nightly, Winter Wonderland 6 - 9 p.m., and Holiday Lights, 6 - 10 p.m.
Where: Greenville, S.C.
Begin your visit at Winter Wonderland where you can explore lighted walking trails, see Santa and more. Afterward, get back into your car and enjoy the 1.5-mile drive through various lighted displays.
Bonus: Add a little more "holiday spirit" to your visit by checking the calendar for special events.

What: Tanglewood Festival of Lights
When: through Jan. 1, 2017; Friday through Sunday, 6 - 10 p.m., $15 per car
Where: Clemmons, N.C.
Over a million lights, twinkling snowflakes and various scenes greet you during Tanglewood Festival of Lights. What began in 1992 as a 1.5-mile route with twenty-five displays has grown to nearly 4 miles and over one hundred displays.
Bonus: Make it a point to stop at Tanglewood’s Gift Shop located at the Red Barn, halfway through the route. Find a gift for someone on your holiday list or treat yourself to something special.

What: Lights on the Neuse
When: Various dates and times; $9 for ages three and up
Where: Clayton, N.C.
Lights on the Neuse's 30-minute hayride takes you on a mile-long journey that is sure to get you in the holiday mood. Enjoy holiday scenes like “Down Home Christmas," “Christmas on the Square" and more around Boyette Family Farms.
Bonus: Extend your time and decorate cookies at the Sugar Barn or enjoy some hot chocolate at Santa's Sweet Shoppe.

What: Southern Lights at Kentucky Horse Parkscreen-shot-2016-11-30-at-12-54-39-pm
When: through Dec. 31; nightly, 5:30 - 10:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, $15 per car; Friday through Sunday, $25 per car
Where: Lexington, Ky.  Drive along the over four-mile route to see the various lighted displays that are a mix of both the holidays and Kentucky-specific at Southern Lights
Bonus: Don't forget to visit the Holiday Festival in the park’s interior that has something for everyone. Visit with Santa, check out the animals at the petting zoo and more.

What: Mega Cavern's Lights Under Louisville
When: through Dec. 31; $30 per car ($5 off coupon available for Monday through Thursday); Monday through Friday, 6 - 10 p.m., Saturday through Sunday, 5 - 10 p.m.
Where: Louisville, Ky.
If the lights aren't enough to get you to Mega Cavern's Lights Under Louisville, then perhaps the idea of driving your car inside the cavern will motive you to visit. The 30-minute ride takes you through 17-miles of passageways featuring over two million lights and over 850 lit characters.
Bonus: It the world's only fully underground drive through Christmas light show and it's located in the South.

What: Winter Wonderland of Lights Festival
When: through Jan. 8; Sunday through Thursday, dusk - 10 p.m., Friday through Saturday, dusk - 11 p.m.
Where: Ashland, Ky.
Surround yourself in over 800,000 lights and over 50 holiday displays as you walk through Central Park and downtown.
Bonus: Take a ride aboard the Winter Wonderland Express Train Rides ($3 per person; Dec. Dec. 2-4, 9-11, 16-18; 6-9 p.m.)

What: 100 Miles of Lights
When: various dates, times and admissions
Where: Richmond, Williamsburg, Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach, Va.
For those who love holiday lights, this is for you. Wrap yourself in millions of glittering, twinkling, glowing lights that include walk-through displays, drive through displays and more from the capital city to the Atlantic.
Bonus: Check out the other holiday events happening throughout the cities as well.

What: Winter Festival of Lights
When: through Jan. 1, 2017; Sunday through Thursday, until 10 p.m., Friday through Saturday, until 11 p.m.
Where: Wheeling, WVa.
Holiday lights take over 300 acres of Oglebay Resort. See them all on a six-mile drive.
Bonus: There is plenty to keep everyone busy before or after viewing the lights. Some of the activities and events include a Christmas Shop, family holiday hay rides, gingerbread house and more

photo credits: (top) Lights of the South in Grovetown, Ga., personal collection; (top right) Lights of the Delta in Blytheville, Ark., courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism;  (middle left) Speedway in Lights, Bristol Motor Speedway, courtesy of Tennessee Vacation; (lower left) Magical Lights Tour at Winter Adventure at Lake Lanier in Buford, Ga., courtesy of Lake Lanier; (lower right) Southern Lights at Kentucky Horse Park, couresty of Kentucky Tourism.