13 Festive Drive-Thru Christmas Lights in NY and NJ (Plus, a Few You Can See on Foot)
One of the best parts of the holidays is spending time with family and friends (after all the delicious food, of course). And while we’re all about classic traditions like gift exchanges and Christmas movies, this year we suggest starting a new holiday ritual by visiting one of these festive drive-thru Christmas lights events in the New York and New Jersey area. No car? No problem. We’ve thrown in a couple of holiday lights experiences in the NYC area that don’t require wheels. So go ahead and grab your loved ones, a tin of holiday cookies and get ready to experience a breathtaking display of festive cheer. ‘Tis the season!
1. NYC WINTER LANTERN FESTIVAL IN ROSLYN, NEW YORK
Located at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn, New York, this 20-acre drive-thru Christmas lights experience will certainly bring on the holiday spirit. Don’t be thrown off by the festival’s name, A Bug’s Night, as the display isn’t filled with actual critter but instead full of vivid handmade lanterns, holiday lights and projection mapping. Open until January 9, 2022, there are also two non-holiday lantern experiences available in Staten Island and Queens.
2. WESTCHESTER’S WINTER WONDERLAND IN VALHALLA, NEW YORK
Take a ride through Westchester’s Winter Wonderland where you’ll find popular holiday characters, a twirling tunnel, towering candy canes, glowing snowballs and a playground of elves. The best part? There will be a live Santa to wave to from the comfort of your own car while listening to a personalized holiday playlist. Tickets need to be purchased in advance and the event ends January 2, 2022.
3. MAGIC OF LIGHTS IN WANTAGH, NEW YORK
One of Long Island’s most popular light displays is back at Jones Beach State Park with 2 miles of cheerful and sparkling holiday scenes. As you drive through Magic of Lights, you’ll come across a 200 foot light tunnel, animated snowmen, a Victorian village and an enchanted forest. Be sure to stop by the North Pole where kids (and adults too!) can drop off letters to Santa Claus by using a premade template. Open starting November 19 through January 2, 2022.
4. DIDONATO'S MAGICAL HOLIDAY EXPRESS IN HAMMONTON, NEW JERSEY
If the Polar Express is one of your favorite holiday movies, look no further than DiDonato’s Magical Holiday Express. Hop on a train and ride through millions of holiday lights and meet good ol’ Saint Nick himself. Admission also includes story time and pictures with Mrs. Claus, a present from Santa, a holiday movie tent and much more. Tickets sell out quickly but can be purchased online or at the door. Open until December 30.
5. PEACE, LOVE & LIGHTS IN BETHEL, NEW YORK
Back and bigger than ever, Peace, Love & Lights held at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has expanded its popular holiday attraction. With new themed areas such as New York and Holidays Around the World, the 1.7-mile-long display also features jovial attractions such as a 120-foot twinkle tunnel, snowflake alley and candy cane lane. The drive-thru takes about 30 minutes and is open until January 2, 2022.
6. BRONX ZOO HOLIDAY LIGHTS IN BRONX, NEW YORK
Grab your hot cocoa and winter coats and stop by the Bronx Zoo for a festive animal-themed light show. This walk-through experience features holiday décor, colored tunnels, immersive light displays and more than 260 lanterns representing animal and plant species. Other activities include ice carving demonstrations, costume characters, stilt walkers and a holiday train at an additional cost. Open on select dates from November 19 through January 9, 2022.
7. SKYLANDS STADIUM CHRISTMAS LIGHT SHOW IN AUGUSTA, NEW JERSEY
There’s no better place to help you get in on the holiday fun than Skylands Stadium Christmas Light Show. After driving through over 2 million lights (!), you can stop by the outdoor Christmas village and enjoy ice skating, photos with Santa, carnival rides, a s’mores station and much more. There’s even a winter beer garden for those in need of some “adult beverages.” Open from November 24 until January 9, 2022.
8. RIVERHEAD HOLIDAY LIGHT SHOW IN CALVERTON, NEW YORK
Pack a bag filled with your favorite holiday treats and head to the Riverhead Holiday Light Show for a can’t miss drive-thru experience. As you wind through the one-mile long route, tune your radio to listen and sing along to a synced playlist. The show starts at 5 p.m. each night and is open from November 19 until December 31. Check out their website for more locations in New York and New Jersey.
9. ORCHARD OF LIGHTS AT DEMAREST FARMS IN HILLSDALE, NEW JERSEY
During the holiday season, fall-favorite Demarest Farms transforms into a fun and magical display of lights and festive activities. The Orchard of Lights offers a guided drive-thru tour of 32 acres of light displays where you can tune into a local radio station and listen to your favorite holiday songs. After the tour, warm up by the fire pit with some s’mores and hot cocoa, take pictures with Santa and listen to his singing reindeer. Open from November 23 until January 9, 2022, and reservations must be made online before visiting.
10. WINTER WONDERLIGHTS IN EAST BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY
With over one million lights to see, WinterWonder Lights brings a local family-owned business front and center with larger-than-life holiday themed displays. Hop in your car and a drive through a half mile of festive animated lights celebrating Christmas, Diwali, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Tickets can be purchased online, and the event is open from November 25 until January 2, 2022.
11. NYBG GLOW IN BRONX, NEW YORK
Back for its second year, NYBG GLOW at the New York Botanical Garden will offer more light displays than ever before. The 1.5-mile colorful experience features dazzling LED lights, illuminated plant stories and whimsical installations. Visitors can also add on an after-dark visit to the Holiday Train Show where model trains zip through New York landmarks or make a pit stop at the Bronx Night Market Holiday Pop-Up. The event runs on select dates from November 24 until January 22, 2022.
12. Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
When it comes to holiday cheer, no neighborhood does Christmas like Dyker Heights. If you have access to a car, head to this Brooklyn locale for one of the best holiday light displays in the whole country. Houses go completely over the top, decorating their lawns in thousands of glistening lights, life-sized snowmen, reindeer, and Santas galore. It’s the perfect field trip for entertaining kids or just getting into the holiday spirit.
13. A VERY FURRY CHRISTMAS AT SESAME PLACE IN LANGHORNE, PENNSYLVANIA
OK, so this one isn’t technically in New York or New Jersey, but it’s definitely worth the trip. A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place is a 90-minute drive from NYC where you can celebrate the holidays with your favorite characters. The park transforms into a Christmas wonderland with a 30-foot illuminated tree, a new Christmas Family Fun Zone and a meet and greet with Santa. The event is open from November 20 until January 2, 2022.
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