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.