We might be living through the golden age of holiday lights displays.
Whether you want inside or out, huge or just enough, artistic or deliberately tacky, walk-through or drive-through, free or you’re willing to pay, there’s a display for you either here in the First State or right over the state line.
In Delaware, many of the displays have become a niche destination of their own, said Jessica Welch, director of the Delaware Tourism Office.
“Our state is fortunate to be so close to so many travelers in nearby states, giving many a chance to take a quick evening drive to enjoy the lights,” she said in a press release.
Here’s a look at what’s out there, divided by in-state shows or those nearby.
Holiday lights in Delaware
New Castle County
- Rockwood Park, 4651 Washington Street Extension, Wilmington. Drive-through. Free. Its grounds are lit up for people to drive through. It’s a smallish, but a delightful display and perfect for people who want to take older folks for a ride that won’t wear them out. Visitors also can park and walk around the grounds. Dusk to 9 p.m. nightly. Bonus: Rockwood is a short drive from the Smith family’s amazing display.
- Smith family annual display at 1900 Prior Road, Wilmington. Drive-by or walk-through. Free. This family display, easily visible from I-95, looks like a holiday lighting factory exploded over two homes and yards. If you’ve never seen it, you won’t believe your eyes. If you have, you can’t resist coming back. Dusk to about 10 p.m. nightly.
- Yuletide at Winterthur, 5105 Kennett Pike, Greenville. Indoors. Walk-through. Admission required. The former du Pont estate offers a Yuletide tour that includes multiple lighted trees and their annual showpiece, the dried flower tree. Admission ranges from $8 for children 2-11 up to $27 for adults.
- Riverbright Wilmington. Walk-through. Free. A two-mile swatch of the Christina River walkway from Tubman-Garrett Park to the DuPont Environmental Education Center will feature trees and archways wrapped in holiday lights, all designed to reflect in the water. Starts at dusk. Lots of parking nearby, as well as places to stop for food and drink.
- Zoo Nights and Christmas Lights, 3 Palms Zoo, 1060 VanDyke Greenspring Road, Townsend. Walk-through. Admission required. Open on Friday and Saturday nights through the season. Themed displays. Some animals — such as foxes — still awake. Hot chocolate and more available for purchase.
- Woodburn Illuminated, 151 Kings Highway SW, Dover. the official residence of the Delaware governor. Outside and inside. Free. On Friday, Dec. 9, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., the house will feature luminaries to walk through, 18th and 19th century window illustrationsm, live music from local students, tours of the house decorated for Christmas and hot beverages and treats from the House of Coffi.
- Gift of Lights, Dover Motor Speedway, Dover. Outside. Admission. The drive-through show on 1.5 miles of the Woodlands of Dover campground features more than 60 scenes and 3 million lights. It is open Dec. 6 and & from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.; from Dec. 8 through Dec. 26 from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; from Dec. 27 through New Year’s Day from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., except on Friday and Saturday when it will stay open from until 10 p.m. Admission is $35 per car and $60 for limousines.
- Schellville Enchanted Winter Celebration, 36470 Seaside Outlet, Rehoboth Beach. Outside. Free, but registration requested. Ice skate, shopping, refreshments and lights by the thousands create a world of their own at this “pop-up” Christmas village. Fair warning: Weekends already are mega crowded
- Winter Wonderfest , Hudson Fields, 29763 Eagle Crest Road, Milton. Outside. Drive-through. Open nightly through Dec. 31. One-mile drive through the “Fields of Christmas Dreams” features different scenes. Tickets bought online are good any night and have additional $3.50 service fee. Cars $20 Monday-Wednesday and $25 Thursday-Sunday. Vans $40 Monday-Wednesday and $45 Thursday through Sunday. Buses $40 Monday through Wednesday and $65 Thursday-Sunday.
- Lewes Lights: Self-guided tour of homes decorated for the holidays. Get map from website.
Delaware’s not enough for you? Try these blazing out-of-state sites.
- Longwood Gardens, A Longwood Christmas, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square. Outside and In. The granddaddy of area holiday displays, the lights are up through Jan. 8. Timed tickets almost always sell out in advance. Get them on the website. Tickets are $16-$30.
- Herr’s annual Christmas Lights Display. 271 Old Baltimore Pike, Nottingham. Outside. Drive-through. Free. Open from dusk until dawn (5 p.m. to 7 a.m.).
- Philadelphia Zoo LumiNature, 3400 W Girard Ave., Philadelphia. Outside. Walk-through. Admission required with timed tickets. Lights up throughout the zoo with 14 illuminated zones. Open Thursday through Sunday.,….Tickets are $2o-$28 with additional $17 parking fee.
- Festival of Lights, Media. Outside. Walk-through. Free admission and parking. The Rose Tree County Park will be light up each night from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. through Jan. 1.
- Miracle on South 14th Street Holiday Lights, Philadelphia. Outside. Walk-through. Drive-through. Free. Neighbors of the 1600 block create glittering displays on show through Jan. 1.
- Winterfest of Lights, 200 125th St., Ocean City. Outside. Walk-through. Open through Dec. 31. $6 admission.
- South Jersey Holiday Light Show, Bridgeport Speedway, 83 Flood Gate Road, Swedesboro. Outside. Drive-through. Admission charged. This one-mile show about 30 minutes from Wilmington is synced to music. $25 per car, plus $3.52 ticket fee.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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