Christmas light displays have delivered holiday cheer for nearly as long as lightbulbs have been around. Thomas Edison hung strings of electric lights outside his laboratory in New Jersey at Christmastime in 1881, just one year after he invented the incandescent bulb. To this day, bright lights on chilly winter nights can transform a regular neighborhood, forest or park into a Christmas wonderland. Let Fido ride shotgun and share in the magic at these eight pet-friendly drive-through exhibitions. If he prefers to stretch his legs, we’ve added two more for walkies.
Posted by Billy Francis
1. Holiday Light Fantasia
Take a leisurely evening drive to Holiday Light Fantasia in greater Hartford. This 2-mile stretch of Goodwin Park becomes a drive-through wonderland during the season. From start to finish, you’ll gaze upon more than 1 million twinkling lights arranged in a variety of shapes, including holiday scenes, familiar characters and local tributes. There’s something for everybody, with 200 individual displays and animations for Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s. Keep an eye out for Flurry the Dog; every year, she hides somewhere new among the displays. If you spot her, fill out this form for a chance to win an iPad.
Holiday Light Fantasia will be held from November 28 through January 1. Tickets start at $15 per car. Spend the night in the comfort of a home away from home at one of these pet-friendly Hartford Airbnb rentals.
2. Bright Nights at Forest Park
Since the first Christmas lights were strung in the trees for Bright Nights at Forest Park in Springfield, MA in 1995, more than 5 million people have gazed in wonder at the imaginative displays. The Victorian garden is transformed by 650,000 lights along a 3-mile driving route. The marvelous displays include Seuss Land, Winter Woods and Happy Holidays Springfield. One of the most intricate exhibits is a replica of Everett Barney's mansion, a local philanthropist who donated 178 acres of land to the park in 1884. Lucky dogs might meet a jolly greeter equipped with treats for pets at the entrance.
Bright Nights at Forest Park will be held from November 27 through January 5. Tickets start at $20 per car Monday through Thursday and $25 per car Friday through Sunday and holidays. After Fido’s spellbinding drive through the park, spend the night at the nearby pet-friendly Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel.
3. Tanglewood Park Festival of Lights
Tanglewood Park Festival of Lights is truly a sight to behold. North Carolina’s most impressive Christmas light display invites people and their pups to trundle through the tunnel of lights, alongside illuminated golfers, Nativity sets and colorful arrangements. If you want to get out and take a look, bring your dog to Paws in the Park. This unique event offers animal lovers the opportunity to walk with their four-legged friends through the enchanting holiday light show.
Tanglewood Park Festival of Lights is open 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. from November 15 through January 1. Tickets start at $15 per car. See the lights by foot and car, and then cruise along to a pet-friendly room at the Quality Inn Clemmons just five minutes away.
4. Candy Cane Lane
Woodland Hills isn’t expecting a particularly cold winter, but their annual light show will transport you and your little helper to the chilly North Pole. Candy Cane Lane organically began in 1952, when a group of neighbors collectively decided to start a light display. Today, residents living in an eight-block stretch of this Californian neighborhood brighten up the lives of people from near and far, getting more and more elaborate every year.
Candy Cane Lane is a free community event hosted by individual homeowners. The event usually takes place from the second Saturday of December through the end of the year. Dim your lights, drive through and enjoy the show with Fido. Then travel five minutes down the road and check in at the pet-friendly Extended Stay America Woodland Hills, so you can come back for another round.
5. Glittering Lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Nevada’s largest drive-through holiday light show is coming to town again this year. Glittering Lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a 2.5-mile Christmas light display that will surely brighten up Fido’s night. Different exhibits along the route tell stories of Christmas past, as you and your pooch look forward to Christmas future. If you spot one of Santa’s elves along the way, they have been known to sneak treats out of his sleigh for dogs to munch on during the show.
Glittering Lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will be held November 8 through January 5. Tickets start at $20 per car on weekdays and $30 per car on weekends. When you're ready to turn in for the night, avoid the hectic Strip and choose the pet-friendly Best Western Plus North Las Vegas Inn Suites, located near the Speedway.
6. Winter Festival of Lights
Winter Festival of Lights in Oglebay takes the spectator experience to the next level. Human visitors are equipped with new 3D “Sleigh” Bans. These futuristic holographic glasses transform every point of light into a magical performance. One of the most popular light shows in the country, Festival of Lights welcomes more than a million people every year to marvel at 90 different exhibits. It’s also the longest on our list, encompassing 300 acres of twinkling lights over a 6-mile drive.
Winter Festival of Lights will be held from November 9 through January 6. A donation of $25 per vehicle is suggested. Take a break from driving at one of these awesome pet-friendly VRBO rentals nearby.
7. Lights Under Louisville
Most caves are full of history waiting to be discovered, but some contain stories yet to be told, like the Louisville Mega Cavern. Every year, Lights Under Louisville turns this former limestone mine into a twinkling underground spectacle. Enjoy a 30-minute ride through part of the 17 miles of passageways. The display features 850 lit characters and a massive 3 million points of light, and is the only underground light show of its kind in the world.
Lights Under Louisville will be held from November 16 through December 31. Tickets start at $27 per car. Tour the cave for days with a stay at the Red Roof Inn Louisville. This pet-friendly budget hotel is located just across the road from the attraction.
8. Holiday Festival of Lights
Fido might already be familiar with the large off-leash area at James Island County Park in Charleston, but he may not recognize his favorite dog park covered in twinkling lights and Christmas decor at the Holiday Festival of Lights. Drive through a tunnel of lights and take in the sights of trees bathed in a warm glow and illuminated sculptures floating on the lake. This event is more than just a driving tour. Leashed dogs can explore the exhibits outside of the car, including a sculpture made from over 50 tons of sand, treats from Santa's Sweet Shoppe and a Victorian carousel. Dogs can even get a picture taken with Santa Claus. Don’t forget to #BringFido with your favorite festive pics.
Holiday Festival of Lights is open every evening, rain or shine, from November 15 through December 31. Tickets start at $15 per vehicle Monday through Thursday and $20 per vehicle on weekends. See what else the historic city of Charleston has to offer by extending your stay at the Residence Inn by Marriott Charleston Downtown.
Bonus Walking Tours
9. Waikele Christmas Lights
The Waikele Christmas Lights seem more out of place than anything else on the list, probably because most of the residents are still wearing shorts and flip flops on Christmas Day. At least the snowmen won’t melt under the yuletide sun, Fido! After the first week in December, a city ordinance closes the road, making it accessible for foot and paw traffic. Bring your Hawaiian hound on a walk-through tour of the community’s whimsical lights.
The Waikele Christmas Lights are a free community event. After Christmas in Hawaii, retire to your pet-friendly HomeAway rental in Waipahu and enjoy scenic views of the Pacific ocean.
10. Holiday Lights at Barnsley Resort
Holiday Lights at Barnsley Resort brings new life to an Italianate manor in North Georgia. The Manor House Ruins, gardens and resort all sparkle with Christmas lights during the festive season. Spend the holidays at this stunning resort and explore more than 10 miles of pet-friendly hiking trails and manicured gardens. At night, cuddle up by the fire together in your own cottage. When it’s time to eat, dig into garden-to-table fare on the pet-friendly patio at the Woodlands Grill.
Holiday Lights at Barnsley Resort will be held from November 28 through January 1. Tickets for the self-guided walking tours are $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 5-12. Fido walks for free.
How are you celebrating Christmas with your pup? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!
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