9 spectacular holiday light displays

Posted December 14, 2017 1:31 p.m. EST

— It's that time of year when spots around the world are aglow in vibrant holiday light displays that dazzle and awe with millions of colored, twinkling bulbs.

These festive exhibitions draw hundreds of thousands of visitors each year who travel to see creatively designed holiday-themed attractions that include sparkling reindeer, brightly shining Santas and even tunnels of hanging lights that you can drive your car through.

These family-friendly destinations can be found in parks, on estates, in city centers and even underground across North America and beyond:

Canyon Lights

North Vancouver, British Columbia

At Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, holiday lights come with a wobbly kneed thrill for visitors who cross the bedazzled bridge suspended 230 feet above the Capilano River in North Vancouver, British Columbia.

The original 1889 bridge -- the work of a Scottish civil engineer who purchased the surrounding land, built a cabin and wanted an easy means of crossing the canyon -- was made of hemp rope and cedar planks, so trepidatious crossers can take comfort in the sturdy wire cable structure of today.

In addition to the bridge lined with lights, there's a Cliffwalk featuring suspended walkways offering views of the river below, where the show continues with lighting on the water in shifting hues.

A third attraction, Treetops Adventure, is made up of seven suspension bridges hanging up to 110 feet above the ground between towering evergreens. Warm white lights add a welcome dose of cozy to the fresh, crisp Pacific rainforest air. Admission in US dollars is about $33 for adults, $21 for youth ages 13-16; $11 for kids 6-12 and free for children under 6.

Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge, 3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver, BC; 604-985-7474

Tanglewood Festival of Lights

Clemmons, North Carolina

Nearly 5 miles of holiday lights wow holiday visitors to Tanglewood Park just outside Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Now in its 26th year, the Tanglewood Festival of Lights, a drive-through exhibit of more than a million individual lights, runs from November 17 through January 1.

About a quarter of a million people come to the Festival of Lights each year, where they also stop by the Gift Village to find crafts from local artists, take a photo with Santa and enjoy a s'mores kit from the aptly named S'moresville. Entrance fee is $15 per car. Monday through Wednesday visits are recommended to avoid long waits.

Tanglewood Festival of Lights, 4061 Clemmons Road, Clemmons, NC; 336-703-6400

Coeur d'Alene Resort Holiday Light Show, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

This sparkling Idaho display extends from the shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene out onto the water where a giant floating Christmas tree and Santa's workshop are visible during the "Journey to the North Pole" cruise.

Over a million and a half lights are on display at this Coeur d'Alene Resort spectacle.

Visitors can also book a Santa's Family Getaway package and stay overnight at the resort after viewing the display. Cruises are $22.25 per adult, $7.50 for children ages 6 to 12.

Coeur d'Alene Holiday Light Show, 115 S. 2nd St., Coeur d'Alene, ID; 855-703-4648

Christmas in Color

In Utah and Arizona

Music has never looked so good. Christmas in Color is a drive-through viewing experience where visitors tune their car radios to a set station to listen to holiday music synced to the brilliant holiday lights display.

Snowmen and Christmas trees appear animated in every color as over 1.5 million lights blink and flash in time with the music.

There are three Christmas in Color locations -- two in Utah and one in Arizona. Entry starts at $25 per vehicle and the displays are open every evening except Sundays.

Christmas in Color, Provo and South Jordan, Utah, and Goodyear, Arizona

Lights Under Louisville

Louisville, Kentucky

Twinkling lights go underground in Kentucky with the Lights Under Louisville display at Mega Cavern, an old quarry that is now a subterranean theme park of zip lines and ropes courses.

During the holiday season, Lights Under Louisville gives the cavern a warm, festive glow. You can drive your own vehicle through part of the cavern's 17 miles of tunnels to view 850 characters made up of about 3 million lights.

The display is open through December 31 and costs $27 per vehicle.

Lights Under Louisville, 1841 Taylor Ave., Louisville, KY; 877-614-6342

Georgetown GLOW


Georgetown GLOW is an unconventional holiday lights display, but one that visitors to Washington should not miss.

This year is the event's fourth, combining the work of local and international artists who have put together their own creative and innovative public light art installations.

Exhibits include "Light Cloud," an otherworldly reactive light sculpture by Ted Bazydlo and Brandon Newcomer, and "Aqueous," a network of playful illuminated pathways by Jen Lewin that encourages holiday levity.

This free outdoor exhibit can be viewed nightly from 5-10 p.m. from December 8 through January 7 in the Georgetown Business Improvement District.

Georgetown Glow, Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

Christmas in Tivoli

Copenhagen, Denmark

Already a wonderland, Tivoli Gardens, the famous amusement park in central Copenhagen, takes the magic up a notch with its annual holiday lights display that runs from November 18 through December 31.

There are many different activities to enjoy here while viewing the lights, including a twilight train ride around the park and a visit to Santa's living room.

The Tivoli Christmas Light Show takes place in the Chinese area of the park, where over 16,000 lights twinkle to traditional Christmas songs like "Jingle Bells."

Other attractions include Christmas stalls full of gifts and sweets, and the Honey Cake Castle where you can decorate your own cake. Admission is about $19 for guests 8 years old and up.

Tivoli Christmas Light Show, Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 Kobenhaven V, Copenhagen, Denmark; +45 33151001

Magic Christmas in Lights

Theodore, Alabama

Scenes of animals decked out in holiday splendor can be found amid brightly colored Christmas trees and overhanging canopies at Bellingrath Gardens and Home near Mobile, Alabama.

The massive Magic Christmas in Lights undertaking requires over 14,000 light strands and runs through December 31.

There are more than 3 million lights on display here covering 65 acres of the estate; all the lights are installed and designed by the staff.

Local music groups provide entertainment, and the Magnolia Café is open to hungry families from 4 to 8 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults, $7.50 for children.

Magic Christmas in Lights, 12402 Bellingrath Gardens Road, Theodore, AL; 251-973-2217

Shiodome Caretta Illumination


Snow cascading from above is the effect achieved by more than 250,000 LED lights in shades of white and blue at the Caretta Shiodome, a large shopping center in Tokyo that is home to stores, restaurants and an advertising museum.

The automated show takes place every 20 minutes with an orchestral score that swells and fades dramatically, all synced to a frenetic light display to match the merry spirit of the music.

Shiodome Caretta Illumination, Carettasiodome, 1-8-2, Higashishimbashi Dentsuhonshabiru, Minato-ku, Tokyo