It’s the season for magical holiday lights shows. Spectacular lights shows can be found in convenient drive-to destinations across Virginia, bringing plenty of holiday cheer. These joy-filled holiday experiences feature millions of glittering lights, stunning holiday displays, brilliantly decorated Christmas trees, and festive activities. Most of these holiday lights shows and seasonal events occur from mid-November through early January.
Holiday lights shows are a fantastic way to get in the Christmas spirit, and they’re fun for the whole family. I love experiencing drive-through holiday lights shows and festive events at parks, resorts, botanical gardens, and other attractions. Some theme parks turn into awe-inspiring winter wonderlands featuring shimmering lights, holiday shopping, entertaining performances, and visits with Santa.
We’ve sought out amazing holiday light shows throughout Virginia, looking for the best mix of venues and attractions. Here are nine of Virginia’s top holiday light shows, displayed alphabetically.
Note: These popular events often require advance ticket purchases, so make your plans early for the best selection of dates.
1. BayPort Credit Union Holiday Lights At The Beach
Virginia Beach’s festive BayPort Credit Union Holiday Lights at the Beach offers fun for the entire family. Guests can stay warm in their vehicles as they drive along the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, listening to the festive music soundtrack on their car radio while marveling at the spellbinding light displays with Christmas and nautical themes. Some of the fantastic scenes in this drive-through holiday lights show include a surfing Santa, festive fish, musical crabs, color-changing archways, and a 40-foot dancing-light Christmas tree.
This fabulous Christmas lights show takes place from late November through January 1. Tickets for the BayPort Credit Union Holiday Lights at the Beach must be purchased online in advance for a specific date and timed entry slot.
Virginia Beach is ranked as the top two trending holiday destination in Vacasa’s recent 2022 Winter Travel Trends report, so plan to spend some time here enjoying all this exciting seaside city has to offer.
2. Boar’s Head Resort Winter Wander Trail Of Lights
The Boar’s Head Resort Winter Wander Trail of Lights, presented by the University of Virginia, is a popular holiday attraction featuring spectacular, all-new light displays in a magical setting. Visitors can take an enchanting lakeside stroll along the illuminated half-mile Winter Wander Trail while marveling at trees glowing in vibrant colors, shimmering landscapes, and unique displays. The outdoor, hard-surface walking trail is accessible for most wheelchairs and strollers. The Market’s many food and beverage options are sure to make spirits bright, and photos with Santa are also available.
The festive Winter Wander Trail of Lights is open on select nights from late November through early January. Tickets may be purchased online for specific dates and entry times, and it’s wise to book early.
Charlottesville is a vibrant town with much to offer during the winter season, and it’s a superb choice for a multi-day holiday getaway. Overnight travelers can take advantage of the AAA four-diamond Boar’s Head Resort’s Winter Wander package, which includes VIP tickets and other exclusive benefits.
3. Bull Run Festival Of Lights
Bull Run Regional Park transforms into a glistening landscape of holiday lights each year during the Bull Run Festival of Lights. Visitors will enjoy driving along the 2.5 miles of holiday dazzle featuring colorful light displays. After navigating along the enchanting route in the warm comfort of your vehicle, make sure to visit the Holiday Village & Carnival for bonfires, s’mores, shopping, rides, and family fun.
The Bull Run Festival of Lights is open from early November through early January. Tickets are sold per vehicle and can be purchased online in advance. Online ticket discounts are often available for festival visits on Monday through Thursday, and the event is less crowded during the weekdays.
4. Busch Gardens Christmas Town
Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Christmas Town is one of North America’s largest holiday displays, featuring more than 10 million sparkling lights and a wide array of attractions. During this festive celebration, the theme park is transformed into a magical winter wonderland that brings your holiday spirit to life. Busch Gardens Christmas Town guests can marvel at the dazzling lights, sample delicious food, shop for unique gifts, and enjoy thrilling rides and holiday-themed entertainment. Families will make lasting memories riding on the Christmas Town Express, taking photos with Father Christmas, or gathering for a special holiday meal with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Busch Gardens Christmas Town takes place on select dates from early November through early January. It’s wise to buy tickets online in advance for this popular event, and various packages are available.
Holiday travelers often visit Busch Gardens Christmas Town while spending several days in Williamsburg, a historic city that makes you feel like you’re in a Hallmark Christmas movie during the yuletide season.
5. Dominion Energy GardenFest Of Lights At Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens
Over a million sparkling lights decorate the 50-acre Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens during its award-winning Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights. In addition to taking a gorgeous stroll through the twinkling gardens, guests can check out the event’s model trains and enjoy the botanical decorations, warming fire, dining, and shopping. Special GardenFest brunches and dinners with Santa are also available.
Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights has been named one of USA Today’s top 10 botanical garden holiday lights shows, and it’s in the running again this year. This year’s theme is “Seeds of Light,” highlighting tiny seeds’ power as nature’s creative “spark of life.”
The Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights takes place along the botanical gardens’ accessible hardscaped pathways. This popular holiday attraction takes place on most dates from late November through early January. Visitors must purchase all tickets online in advance, and popular dates and entry times sell out quickly.
6. Illuminights Winter Walk Of Lights
Light up your holidays with a visit to Roanoke’s Illumnights Winter Walk of Lights held at Explore Park. Guests can take a magical stroll down Illuminights’ half-mile wooded path adorned with over 650,000 shimmering holiday lights.
This year’s yuletide event features a variety of additional holiday merrymaking activities, including beautiful light-filled Christmas displays, food trucks, marshmallow roasting, a fun-filled Santa experience, and an artisan Christmas market with unique handmade crafts from 50 local and regional vendors.
Illumnights Winter Walk of Lights is open on select dates from late November through December. A Sensory Night, or reduced sensory experience, is also offered for those who might be sensitive to light or sound — check the Illuminights website for details. Illuminight tickets can be purchased online, by phone, or in person for a future operating night based on availability.
7. Kings Dominion WinterFest
Create memories of a lifetime at Kings Dominion WinterFest, a fabulous celebration of the season that makes holiday spirits soar. This holiday lights extravaganza transforms the Kings Dominion theme park into a dazzling winter wonderland filled with millions of glittering lights, close to a thousand Christmas trees, over-the-top decorations, and a massive ice-skating plaza. During Kings Dominion WinterFest, the park’s Eiffel Tower becomes a shimmering 300-foot-tall Christmas tree that lights up the night. The festive Winter Wonderland Parade, featuring lavishly decorated floats and over 100 singers and dancers, provides nightly entertainment as it rolls through the park. Guests can enjoy live holiday-themed shows, thrilling rides, delicious yuletide fare, shopping for unique gifts, and fun activities for the entire family.
Kings Dominion WinterFest takes place on select evenings from late November through January 1. Tickets are available online and at the park’s front gate, subject to availability, and certain activities are available for an additional charge. This holiday spectacular is popular, so purchasing tickets in advance is recommended.
8. Meadowlark’s Winter Walk Of Lights
Take a magical stroll through Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights and enjoy the sparkling landscapes and breathtaking views. The brilliantly illuminated gardens provide a fairytale setting complete with colorful nature-themed and animated lights displays, lighted fountains, a sing-to-me tree, and interactive features. Guests can have fun filling up on the holiday spirit while sipping hot chocolate and roasting s’mores marshmallows over a toasty fire. Stop by the Sips & Sparkles Shop to add to your dazzle with light-up wands and wearables.
Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights takes place nightly from early November through early January, and tickets are sold for a specific date and entry time. They are available online and onsite when available. This enchanting holiday event at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is easily reached from many locations in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Discounts for seniors, military personnel, teachers, and others are offered on select nights.
The entire outdoor Winter Walk of Lights pathway is paved, making it wheelchair and stroller accessible.
9. WinterFest On The Wisconsin
WinterFest on the Wisconsin is the Norfolk area’s newest glimmering holiday celebration of lights. This spectacular experience features over 1 million twinkling lights, beautifully decorated boats, live entertainment, a polar train journey, and interactive yuletide fun.
This year, WinterFest on the Wisconsin guests can view mesmerizing holiday lights in the all-new Mistletoe Marina, discover tiny elf doors on a fun-filled scavenger hunt, and enjoy holiday-themed shows, shopping, and sweet treats.
Visitors can experience WinterFest on the Wisconsin on select evenings from early November through January 1. A fabulous tree lighting ceremony and lighted sailboat parade also take place. Advance online ticket purchases are strongly recommended for this seasonal event. Plan to allow 45 minutes to an hour for the experience, and most areas are wheelchair accessible.
Travelers visiting Norfolk will find plenty of festive attractions to explore, including the award-winning Dominion Energy Garden of Lights at Norfolk Botanical Garden, another stunning holiday lights show in the area.