Follow the Lights to Holiday Cheer! LAST UPDATED 11/17
Holiday cheer is upon us in Connecticut! Get in the holiday spirit by getting out and experiencing some of the brilliant holiday lights festivals and displays around the state. Gather your family and friends for a festive, magical, memorable outing sure to delight audiences of all ages.
Start a Family Tradition
This year, the fourth annual “Lake Compounce Holiday Lights” is taking place on weekend evenings during the holiday season starting November 24. At this Connecticut holiday event hundreds of thousands of lights and exciting holiday entertainment and activities transform the park into a magical winter wonderland! Festivities include a spectacular light show every half hour at the main gate and the Lake Compounce Train, which is transformed as if by magic into the North Pole Railway, operated by a very special, uniformed train conductor with a captivating holiday story to tell. Enjoy family themed rides as well as indoor activities.
Classic New England
The ever-popular “Lantern Light Tours” return this year to Mystic. Step back in time to Christmas Eve in 1876 and experience a celebration of a Christmas as it was in a 19th century seafaring town. The very rare and special tour allows participants to feel the sway of the horse drawn wagon, the lights of the docked ships, a lively musical tavern scene and storytelling.
The Brightest Village in Connecticut?
Find out when Santa arrives at the Ivoryton Playhouse on Saturday December 2 and 400,000 lights light up this pretty village as part of the month-long Ivoryton Illuminations celebration. Come for family activities and entertainment for all ages, and enjoy the lights throughout December.
Santa at Sea
Celebrate the holiday season at Groton’s annual Festival of Lights Parade. Watch the fife and drum corps set the pace as beautifully lit boats light the way for the marching band processional. After the parade Santa Claus lights the holiday tree on the Green with caroling, pictures with Santa, and gifts for the children.
Ride Along with Santa
Another fun-filled experience is aboard the Northern Lights Limited – Train Rides with Santa, at the Railroad Museum of New England in Thomaston. An evening holiday train ride with Santa features a Festival of Lights both inside and outside the train and at historic 1881 Thomaston Station. During this hour-and-20-minute ride, children of all ages will enjoy a journey to Santa’s Train Workshop where Santa will board and merrily greet everyone.
Take a ride into the past on antique trolleys decorated for the holidays at the Shore Line Trolley Museum’s Santa’s Trolley Winter Wonderland! Kids will love the cookies and hot chocolate, not to mention the model train layout. In the evening, the museum transforms itself into a wonderland of festive holiday lights. Many of the trolleys, buildings and site in the yard area are decorated for the holidays adding a wonderful soft glow reminding you of Christmas past.
The Connecticut Trolley Museum in East Windsor is offering “Winterfest & Tunnel of Lights,” a trolley ride that carries visitors into the festive season! Beginning November 24 and running through December, visitors can ride the open “electric sleigh” through the “Tunnel of Lights” accompanied by motormen singing traditional Christmas carols.
And don’t miss a ride on the Santa Special at Essex Steam Train and Riverboat! You can visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus and enjoy the spirit of the season as you relax with family and friends aboard festive railway cars adorned with vintage decorations. Rudolph and Pablo the Penguin will be on board to spread holiday cheer too!
Let There Be More Lights!
- Other popular festivals of lights happening in the state include the must-do “Holiday Light Fantasia” in Goodwin Park in Hartford, open nightly from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day. Drive through two miles of lighted animations that celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, New Year’s and Three Kings Day. On your whimsical and fantastic journey, you’ll see a wonderland of more than one million lights!
- Celebrate the season at Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven where you can drive through “Fantasy of Lights,” an enchanting land of spectacular, sparkling light displays. Be dazzled by more than 100,000 lights while seeing more than 60 attractions that include animated and LED light displays!
- The Festival of Silver Lights in Meriden’s Hubbard Park is a spectacular display with 350,000 white lights and 300 lighted characters throughout the park. There is no cost to drive through the park and enjoy the many displays in trees, on the ponds and nestled in the park’s natural habitat.
Light the Lights—Danbury
December 2, 2017
This nostalgic trip down Main Street is always a crowd pleaser. Santa will arrive by fire truck and children will enjoy cookies, carols, and more before the lighted parade.
Wonderland at Roseville—Fairfield
November 23, 2017 – January 1, 2018
We went on a drive down Roseville Terrace on our Thanksgiving Break. This house was basically Disneyland for my three year old. Take a walk around the property and enjoy the model trains or take a ride in Santa’s sleigh!
That House in Milford—Milford
November 24, 2017 – January 1, 2018
Everyone knows “that house” in the neighborhood, the one with the best lights, that everyone gathers around year after year to spread glad tidings and holiday cheer? This house on Meadows End Road in Milford is *that* house. Stop by to enjoy over 50,000 lights (and show your appreciation with a donation to the Connecticut Food Bank).
Hawleyville Volunteer Fire Department—Newtown
November 24, 2017 – January 8, 2018
This 2nd Annual Holiday Light Show at the Firehouse in Newtown is choreographed to over 100 songs. The show features over 40,000 lights and covers the area on and around the firehouse. New for this year is their “Winter Village” an interactive area where children can walk through buildings, take pictures with “face cutout” props, play games, or donate items for Toys for Tots.
House of Lights—Stamford
November 23, 2017- January 7, 2018
Firefighter Tony Pampena affixes more than 50,000 colored lights to his two-story home, which has earned him the nickname “Tony Christmas” and a spot on ABC’s “Great Christmas Light Fight” which airs December 12th. See them in person for yourself!
Holiday Light Fantasia—Hartford
November 23, 2017 – January 1, 2018
Fantasia is a very popular two-mile drive through Goodwin Park with whimsical holiday sights. Familiar characters and local tributes shine brightly over 35 scenes and 200 individual displays. Be sure to stop in to the Candy Cane Café in the clubhouse for a bite to eat and to meet with Santa Claus.
November 24, 2017 – January 2, 2018
Formerly known as the Festival of Lights, features an array of dazzling lights illuminating Bushnell Park. While you are there, enjoy the free ice skating and free skate rentals at the lighted Winterfest Hartford rink, open daily now through February 1, and visit Santa at the Pump House Gallery on weekends.
The Festival of Silver Lights—Meriden
Tuesday, November 22, 2017 – January 1, 2018
Located at Hubbard Park, you can walk or drive the loop that goes around Mirror Lake and other tiny roads. The display is filled with figurines and displays around the park. It is open daily.
Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, November November 24, 2017 – December 30, 2017
Located at Lake Compounce theme park, Holiday Lights is a fun holiday event that transforms the amusement park into a winter wonderland filled with thousands of lights, entertainment, and activities. Some of the festivities include a spectacular light show that runs every half hour and the usual Lake Compounce train turned into the North Pole Express. Family-themed rides will be in operation. There will also be indoor activities such as gingerbread house making, photos with Santa, and cookie decorating. They also boast the state’s tallest Christmas tree!
Winterfest and the Tunnel of Lights—East Windsor
Friday, Saturdays and Sundays, November 23, 2017 – December 23, 2017, Tuesday – Friday, December 26 – 30, 2017
You and your family are invited to enjoy Winterfest. ide a restored trolley as you travel through a tunnel of colored lights. Return to the winter wonderland that features model trains, entertainment, refreshments and a visit with Santa. Open weekends through December 30.
Torchlight Parade—Windsor Locks
December 9, 2017
Watch the firetrucks parade through town completely lit up. Children from town will march with Santa as the lit up vehicles make their way to light up the town Christmas tree. Windsor Locks has a special history as the site of the FIRST decorated Christmas Tree.
November 24, 2017 – December 24, 2017
This is worthy of a not-too-lengthy road trip to the Western corner. This house is festooned in tinsel, lights, and every type of Christmas-related decoration you can imagine. The owner does not charge admission but does accept donations. The house is open for inside tours from 6-9 pm and outside tours from 6-11 pm, daily, from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas.
New Haven County
Shoreline Trolley Museum —East Haven
Saturdays and Sundays, November 23, 2017 – December 17, 2017
Come and enjoy holiday lights on a real antique trolley. You can meet Santa, and enjoy complimentary cookie and hot chocolate.
December 1, 2017
A quiet appreciation of the holiday spirit with festive luminaria, popcorn and an outdoor fire. The will be a reading of “The Night Before Christmas.” Located at the Henry Whitfield House Museum.
Fantasy of Lights—New Haven
November 17, 2017 – December 31, 2017
Held at Lighthouse Park, unique lit displays includes 100,000 lights and 80 displays for people to enjoy. They even offer 3-d glasses so you can enjoy some of the lights in a different way!
Torchlight Parade—Old Saybrook
December 9, 2017
Come and enjoy Old Saybrook’s torchlight event.