With countless magical lights strung on buildings, draped on trees and wrapped around everything in sight, no holiday shines as brightly as Christmas. And some places specialize is capturing that Christmas charm, taking their lighting and decoration to breathtaking heights.
If you’ve never seen these holiday lights in person, you owe it to yourself to make a trip out to one – or all – of them someday with Global Discovery Vacations. Here are the destinations that should be on the top of your list:
Callaway Gardens Fantasy in Lights (Pine Mountain, Georgia)
Other than being one of the most versatile resorts we offer, people come from all over the world to gaze at the spectacle that is the Fantasy in Lights. National Geographic named it among its top 10 places to see holiday lights. The display features a street dedicated to trees and another to toy soldiers and nutcrackers. Explore each of the seasons in the Enchanted Rainbow Forest, take a stroll around Swan Lake and ride through Santa’s Workshop.
Nights of Lights (Saint Augustine, Florida)
The oldest city in the United States illuminates Florida’s Historic Coast, creating one of the great spectacles of the season. The millions of lights combined with the classic architecture create a brilliant display.
Gatlinburg Winter Magic (Gatlinburg, Tennessee)
In 2014, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, attempted to break the Guinness World Record for most red Rudolph noses ever worn during their annual Christmas Parade. And the 2014 American Idol winner Caleb Johnson hosted the event! So, yes, they take their Christmas festivities seriously. During the holiday season, they spruce up their downtown with amazing LED displays and offer trolley rides to see them in all of their magnificence.
Kauai’s Festival of Lights (Kauai, Hawaii)
What Hawaii lacks in snow and pine trees it makes up for in spirit. “Auntie” Josie Chansky was known for her holiday treasures made from everyday materials, including the popular toothpick Christmas tree, and her art has since turned into a local favorite. Visit the Historic Kauai County Building to see some Auntie Josie-inspired art, made by both her and volunteers for the event.
Nights of a Thousand Candles (Murrells Inlet, South Carolina)
The holidays are synonymous with electronic lights, but the flicker of candlelight has a special mystique that adds a classical feel. You can see 5,500 hand-lit candles at Brookgreen Gardens, illuminating the lovely greenery. Drink some cider, listen to carolers and marvel at this season’s new 80-foot Holiday Fir. Also new this year is the Ice Garden and the child-oriented Peppermint Forest.
Christmas at Biltmore (Asheville, North Carolina)
When George Vanderbilt presented the country’s largest home to his friends and family in 1895, it was on Christmas Eve. So going along with tradition, you’re invited to the estate’s Christmas celebrations, complete with extravagant trees, ornaments and decorations. Shop at A Gardener’s Place gift shop and see Santa at Antler Hill Village. It’s a can’t-miss experience if you’re staying in Banner Elk, North Carolina.
Magical Forest (Las Vegas, Nevada)
A little more subtle than the neon lights in the strip, the Magical Forest in Opportunity Village is just the winter wonderland you need to embrace the holiday. Explore the sparkling forest, play some mini-golf and take the Boris the Elf 3-D Experience while supporting Las Vegas’ favorite charity.
The Lighting of Breckenridge (Breckenridge, Colorado)
Colorado is the essence of all things winter, so no list would be complete without mentioning the snow-filled Rockies. Breckenridge begins the first weekend of December each year with the Race of the Santas, followed by the Lighting of Breckenridge. It’s an all-day event and it should be since it marks the beginning of one of the most gorgeous places to be during Christmastime. You can also watch them light up the sky with New Year’s fireworks.
The holidays bring out the best decorations for just about every destination, so it’s a great time to travel if you love the winter ambiance.
What are the best Chirstmas displays you’ve ever seen? Let us know in the comments below!
Top photo credit: Callaway Gardens Resort.
NOTE: Some of these areas may no longer be available through the membership. Ask your Vacation Specialist for details.