Follow the Lights to Holiday Cheer! Last Updated 12/19
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 annual Lake Compounce Holiday Lights is taking place on weekend evenings during the holiday season starting November 22. 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.
Community Carol Sing & Lighted Boat Parade
On December 1, kick off the holiday season with Trees in the Rigging Community Carol Sing & Boat Parade in Essex. Stroll down the lantern-lit Main Street and join in with the Sailing Masters of 1812 Fife and Drum Corps and a parade of antique cars. After, watch a parade of vessels dressed out in holiday lights along the Connecticut River.
Step inside Mystic Aquarium's biggest and brightest holiday event. Northern Lights transforms outdoor pathways into the land where the aurora borealis shines while a sea of lights leads the way through a mesmerizing journey. Stunning light displays dance to music as magical scenes come to life with glowing Arctic animals.
Small Town Holiday Cheer
On Friday evening, December 6, enjoy the walkable streets of Collinsville which are lit with luminaries for horse drawn carriage rides, a "Champagne Walk," and tree lighting. Saturday, December 7, is filled with family-friendly fun with horse drawn carriage rides, craft fair, story time with Mrs. Claus, face painting, meet Santa Clause, magician shows and much more during Christmas in Collinsville.
Enjoy the lighting of the town's holiday tree, music and more at the annual Holiday in the Depot on Friday, December 13 in the quaint New England town of Washington Depot. Santa will arrive by horse drawn wagon. Follow Santa inside to tell him your wishes and take a picture. Be sure to explore the shops around the Depot for various treats and goodies while you browse unique sale items.
Ride Along with Santa
Another fun-filled experience is aboard the Northern Lights Limited, 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! 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 29 and running through December 29, 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.
Dine Among the Lights
If you want to steep in holiday spirit while enjoying a fantastic meal surrounded by over-the-top holiday décor creativity, then make a reservation at Cava Restaurant in Southington. Using 150,000 lights and many thousands of ornaments, each room is consumed with a different, artfully executed theme that is as beautiful as it is magical.