Watching beautiful, twinkling Christmas lights is one of our favorite activities around the holidays. Beautiful Christmas lights are fun to see in decorated public spaces, carefully choreographed homeowner light shows, fantastic tree lighting ceremonies, and within displays on windows, boats, floats, and every imaginable setting. Because innovation is expanding all the time, the virtual world of online access has grown exponentially. We now have the opportunity to easily experience spectacular holiday lights displays not only in our own neighborhoods but all around the U.S. as well. For a great way to boost your Christmas holiday cheer, here are some of the most beautiful virtual Christmas lights displays in the U.S. Whenever you want to lift your holiday spirit, grab a mug of hot cocoa or cider and enjoy these online shows.
Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting
We have to start off with one of our favorite holiday traditions, the annual lighting up of the enormous Christmas tree in Chicago’s Millennium Park. This longstanding tradition has been celebrated for more than 100 years by the residents of Chicagoland and folks that simply feel the beat of Chicago in their hearts. The donation of the tree is an honor that belongs to a different family every year, and the reveal of the beautiful new tree is always met with oohs and ahhs. Holiday programs accompany the Christmas tree lighting. Symbolizing the start of the holiday season, the Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting offers a bright way to usher in a time of hope and joy for all.
The tree lighting ceremony and program was presented virtually this year. You can watch the wonderful video "Millennium Park At Home: Chicago Holidays" on YouTube. The program includes Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her wife, First Lady Amy Eshelman, offering an insiders' look at the selection of the tree, and other Chicago luminaries honoring Kwanzaa and Hanukkah celebrations with cultural insights about the holidays. Add in some great musical performances from Chicago Children's Choir, Sones de Mexico Ensemble, and a special musical tribute to Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas" from Percy Bady and Friends to get yourself in the mood for the big tree lighting that follows. This special event brings a little bit of the Windy City into everyone's home.
Macy’s Santaland At Home
Anyone who’s seen Miracle On 34th Street holds a special place in their heart for Macy’s holiday traditions. Macy’s offers numerous events to fill shoppers with Christmas cheer across the country. In a special treat, the Macy’s Santaland light show will go virtual with a beautiful lighting display to enjoy throughout the holiday season. To go along with the dazzling lights, a narrated story experience adds to the fun, engaging all the senses and enhancing the overall experience. With an iconic Christmas history, Macy’s pulls out all the stops to make this virtual Christmas lights display a memorable one for all ages. Head to the Macy’s website to read more about Santaland at Home.
Celebrating The Light Of The World
Salt Lake City, Utah, loves nothing more than a good holiday celebration. This year, they're going to broadcast their holiday lighting, “Celebrating The Light Of The World,” from Temple Square, home of the spectacular Salt Lake Temple. There will be simultaneous live broadcasts at 6 p.m. MST on December 1 on their website and on the Temple Square Facebook page, and the broadcast will be on-demand thereafter. The traditional live performances will be replaced this year by Christmas performances submitted from around the world. The ceremony of Christmas lights began in Temple Square in 1965, creating a tradition that provides a beautiful way to begin the season. The lights appear on a reflection pool and provide a beautiful, spiritual experience. The lighting of the trees and the spectacular nature of the Tabernacle itself offer an impressive and beautiful virtual lights experience.
One of the ways we love to see Christmas lights on display is when they show up in the delightfully decorated holiday windows that many stores create for passersby and shoppers to enjoy. Taking a virtual stroll by famous shops and their legacy holiday window displays brings back memories of delight. That’s why Window Wonderland is particularly fun as we approach the holiday season. Gathered here are several of New York City's most famous stores and their entertaining window displays. Christmas lights, animated characters, and colorful decorations appear throughout the featured virtual stores along the way. You can take a magical stroll by the brilliant and imaginative window displays at iconic stores like Macy’s, Lord and Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York, and more. This fun way to see a little holiday magic takes window shopping to a whole new level.
National Christmas Tree Lighting
The spectacle of lighting the National Christmas Tree in Washington DC ushers in the holiday spirit with a magnificent display of lights. That’s why we’ll tune in on Thursday, December 3, for the virtual National Christmas Tree Lighting to celebrate almost 100 years of this dazzling tradition. The national tree has spread Christmas cheer throughout the history of our nation in times of peace and times of war, in times of joy and times of sorrow. It’s an emblem of our common humanity and our universal hope for a wonderful future. There will also be performances accompanying the festive occasion. The twinkling tree in our nation’s capital will be available for virtual viewing throughout the holiday season.
Graceland Annual Lighting Ceremony
Fans of Elvis Presley will be happy to know that they can see the legendary Graceland Mansion in Memphis, Tennessee, light up in its full glory online this year. Graceland is known for its incredible holiday lights, which are delightful to see no matter what kind of music you like. If you love to see an extravaganza featuring tons of beautiful Christmas lights filled with music and magic, visit the Graceland Facebook page to enjoy the sparkling lights and feel the magic as it happened this year. Graceland fans appreciated the virtual beauty with more than 3,000 people attending the Graceland Holiday Lighting on Facebook. Music lovers will also enjoy the "Best of Graceland's Holiday Lighting Ceremony" compilation, which includes interviews and music from such stars as Trisha Yearwood, John Stamos, and Scotty McCreery. For more music and gorgeous Graceland lighting, you can take a look at last year’s lighting ceremony on the Graceland website.
Fort Worth Parade Of Lights
Everything may be bigger in Texas, but the city of Fort Worth offered some holiday celebration that’s brighter as well. Their traditional holiday Parade of Lights often has gorgeously lit floats that usher in the holiday season in the hearts of Texans. This year, the event went virtual. Fort Worth totally reimagined the festivities and made the event bigger and brighter than ever -- and the two-hour extravaganza is accessible to everyone through the end of the year on YouTube. Not only are the brightly lit floats featured throughout the recording, but there are plenty of musical performances as well. A lighted stagecoach with a team of horses, butterfly bicycles from the Bike Zoo, marching bands, beautifully colored Christmas trees, and festively lighted vehicles fill the virtual parade. Tributes to local heroes and messages from first responders like the Fort Worth police and others give this celebration a special hometown feel. We love the Paschal High School Marching Band's drumline performance, and seeing Mr. and Mrs. Clause amid the jolly lighting of a Christmas float just filled our hearts with joy.
The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
Okay, we admit it. We just love Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Snow White, and all their Disney-character friends. They are also especially fun when they’re joined by a cavalcade of brilliant holiday lights. So we love watching the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. The festival is a well-loved midwestern tradition, where Disney ambassadors brighten the path before millions of glittering holiday lights illuminate the trees lining the fabled Magnificent Mile along Chicago’s northern Michigan Avenue. This year, Chicago’s own Jennifer Hudson offered a show-stopping performance. Other performers included Rascal Flatts and star performers from Disney's Broadway production of Frozen. The all-important signal to turn on the twinkling lights along the Magnificent Mile came from irresistible Disney ambassadors, Mickey and Minnie Mouse. The lights are now on, and you can catch all the lights, music, and fun on the ABC Chicago website.
Ogden’s Christmas Village
For a fun and interactive view of Christmas lights, Ogden, Utah has a different way for you to experience beautiful Christmas lights displays. When you take a virtual walk around Ogden’s Christmas Village, you’ll get to see over 60 different cottages with lights aglow and festive decorations. Modeled after Santa’s North Pole hometown, this Christmas village offers charming winter scenes for visitors to Ogden’s charming downtown. You’ll see adorable entries like Snowflake House, Santa’s Print Shop, Frosty’s Firehouse, and Nutcracker Nook among the many creative village cottages. Once you’ve explored the many different scenes, you can click to vote for your favorite cottage. There are so many great choices, it may take an extra hot cider to decide!
Driving around to look at wonderful lighting displays on homes in our neighborhood has been a favorite tradition since we were children. The dazzling displays fire our imaginations and help us feel the wonder of Christmas in bright, bold, beautiful colors. Now we have ways to peek into what other neighborhoods are doing to brighten up their homes for the holidays. The fun of seeing such diverse celebrations of light brings even more joy to the holiday season. We hope you have the chance to explore a few of these beautiful virtual Christmas lights displays in the U.S., and that you have the chance to enjoy even more of them wherever you are during the holiday season.
Editor's Note: Whenever you're ready to venture out during the holidays, consider these cozy Pennsylvania towns that feel like Hallmark movies.