Follow the Lights to Holiday Cheer! Last Updated 10/16

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 27. 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 such as cookie decorating and gingerbread house making.

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.

Enjoy the lights a little longer

Stay at the historic Whaler’s Inn in downtown Mystic with the Lantern Light Tour Package on December 5 or 12. The deal includes an overnight stay, two tickets for the Mystic Seaport’s Lantern Light Tour and a $40 voucher for Restaurant Bravo Bravo.  Rates start at $225 plus tax.

Santa at sea

Celebrate the holiday season with the Submarine Base 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.

The Connecticut Trolley Museum in East Windsor is offering “Winterfest & The Tunnel of Lights,” a trolley ride that carries visitors into the festive season! Beginning November 27 and running through December, visitors can ride the open “electric sleigh” through the “Tunnel of Lights” accompanied by motormen singing traditional Christmas carols.

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 Hubbard Park, Meriden, is a spectacular display with 200,000 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.