Perhaps one of the most beloved seasonal experiences is ooh-ing and ah-ing at magnificent holiday light displays, and the South has no shortage of destinations where you can do just that. As you may already be making a few trips by car this season, we have more than 20 displays throughout the region that will put a jingle in your step!

We’ve broken these down into five categories. Use the links below to jump around:


Holiday Lights | Hot Springs, AR

Where: Garvan Woodland Gardens
When: Through December 31, 2023
Tickets & Info:

Garvan is an Arkansas treat any time of year, but the outdoor garden becomes a magical scene over the holidays. Many holiday characters, flora, and fauna are on display throughout the grounds, and you can even explore the settings on a golf cart tour.

Garvan Woodlan Gardens holiday light display
Holiday Lights runs from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. until the end of the year (except Christmas). Image: Visit Hot Springs

Galaxy of Lights | Huntsville, AL

Where: Huntsville Botanical Garden
When: Through December 31, 2023

Tickets & Info:

All of December, Huntsville Botanical Gardens is ablaze with holiday cheer. The 2.5-mile driving experience (beginning on December 4, 2023) features 200 larger-than-life animated light displays depicting everything from traditional holiday themes to dinosaurs, nursery rhyme characters, and nature scenes that will tickle the curiosity of both kids and kids at heart. You can also visit on a walking night or a dog walking night!

Nights of a Thousand Candles | Murrells Inlet, SC

Where: Brookgreen Gardens
When: Through December 31, 2023
Tickets & Info:

How about an epic holiday display without an on-off switch?! Brookgreen Gardens comes to life with an award-winning show of over 2,800 hand-lit candles and myriad sparkling lights. With a hot cup of cider (or wine!) in hand and carolers’ tunes in the air, stroll through the enchanting pathways of this sprawling coastal South Carolina estate.

Brookgreen Garden
The Lowcountry comes alive at night during Brookgreen Garden’s beloved Nights of a Thousand Candles. Image: Brookgreen Garden

Holidays at the Garden | Belmont, NC

Where: Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
When: Through December 23, 2023

Tickets & Info:

Dancing fountains and thousands of twinkling lights blanket the garden in this cozy holiday scene. Deck your visit with food truck fare, fireside sips, and holiday gift shopping. Don’t forget to snap a photo at the Orchid Tree, the garden’s magnificent holiday centerpiece.

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights | Atlanta, GA

Where: Atlanta Botanical Gardens
When: Through January 14, 2024
Tickets & Info:

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights is one of Atlanta’s favorite seasonal traditions. The expansive grounds of the botanical gardens transform into jaw-dropping scenes of splendor and whimsy that — as cliché as it sounds — you must see to believe. Fan favorites will return, like the Orchestral Orbs in the Great Lawn, the massive draping icicle lights in the Storza Woods, and the giant Ice Goddess in the Cascade Garden … but expect some new surprises this year!

Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood | Nashville, TN

Where: Cheekwood Estate & Gardens
When: Through January 7, 2024
Tickets & Info:

Savor the sights and sounds of the season at Nashville’s favorite holiday tradition. Cheekwood’s enchanting Holiday LIGHTS experience includes a 1.5-mile-long stretch of artistically glowing lights, real reindeer, s’mores pits, festive libations to sip while you see, and a Holiday Marketplace to shop. The entire estate is decorated in splendor, with plenty to do with friends and family.

garden path decorated for christmas with holiday lights
Strolling the brightly lit paths at Cheekwood with a hot chocolate in hand is a beloved Nashville holiday tradition! Image: Facebook

Magic Christmas in Lights | Theodore, AL

Where: Bellingrath Gardens and Home
When: November 24, 2023 through January 3, 2024
Tickets & Info:

This beloved Gulf Coast holiday tradition invites you to stroll through a dazzling display of more than 1,100 set pieces, three million lights, and 16 scenes throughout the stunning 65-acre garden estate. You can also tour or explore the Bellingrath Home, dressed in its holiday finery and anointed with poinsettias.


Nights of Lights | St. Augustine, FL

Where: St. Augustine Historic District
When: Through January 28, 2024
More Info:

Celebrating its 30th year, the nation’s oldest city, St. Augustine, lights up with more than three million twinkling lights adorning every corner of the historic district — from ground to roof — for two months. Visitors flock to enjoy Florida’s mild temps, and Downtown businesses stay open later, allowing you to dine and shop with prime views of the lights and decorated buildings. There are also seasonal train and trolley tours that highlight the best areas.

St. Augustine
Seeing the city’s unique Spanish Colonial architecture and coastal vegetation ablaze with intricate lighting for more than 20 blocks is awe-inspiring. Image:

The Alpine Town of Helen, GA

Where: Downtown Helen
When: Through January 1, 2024
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Christmas magic comes easily to the German-inspired alpine town of Helen, GA. It makes nearly every list of the country’s can’t-miss holiday destinations. From Thanksgiving through December, parks, pavilions, trees, shop windows, and cafes are beautifully decorated and lit up in true European fashion. Visit the first weekend in December for their authentic Christkindlemarkt or on New Year’s Eve for their annual Dropping of the Edelweiss celebration.

Lights of the Ozarks | Fayetteville, AR

Where: Downtown Square
When: Through January 1, 2024
More Info:

Every year, The City of Fayetteville spends more than 2,000 hours illuminating the Downtown Square with more than half a million lights. Until the first of the year, visitors can marvel at the lights from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. with some hot cocoa and festive music.

50 Nights of Lights | Cleveland, MS

Where: Downtown Cleveland
When: Through January 1, 2024
More Info:

Small-town Cleveland, MS’s light show is unique in that local families, individuals, and businesses donate more than a million lights and displays to decorate the town. Last year, the Delta Chinese Foundation donated a 20-foot dragon, and an unnamed NBA player contributed a display of Santa playing basketball. They’re also adding a vivid 100-foot snowfall projection to this year’s lineup! The walkable downtown hosts carriage and trolly rides, ice skating, and visits from Santa. Here’s a video about this year’s 50 Nights of Lights:


Holiday Lights on the River Walk | San Antonio, TX

Where: Downtown San Antonio
When: Through January 7, 2024
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San Antonio’s River Walk is a destination in itself, but its famous Holiday Lights on the River Walk is a must. Experience a spectacular display of more than 2,250 strings of lights draped over the towering cypress trees that line the River Walk. Take a boat tour or snag a patio spot at a riverside cantina. And there are even more lights north of downtown on the river in the Pearl District.


Pigeon Forge Winterfest | Great Smoky Mountains

Where: Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville, TN
When: Through February 18, 2024
More Info:

Experience a true winter wonderland in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville. Millions of tiny, twinkling lights come together on streets throughout the mountain towns of the Great Smoky Mountains to form elaborate displays that will leave you in awe. Embark on a driving tour of lights, or plan a holiday-filled itinerary here — there are parades, shows, and arts festivals galore all winter long in these Tennessee towns.

Holiday Trail of Lights | Louisiana

Where: Shreveport-Bossier, Minden, Monroe-West Monroe, Natchitoches, and Alexandria/Pineville
When: Through January 2024
More Info:

The Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights was formed 30 years ago to create an interconnected holiday experience for Northern Louisiana locals and visitors alike. The trail incorporates Shreveport and Bossier, Minden, Monroe-West Monroe, Natchitoches, and Alexandria/Pineville. The cities are all within driving distance of one another so that you can experience it in one day or a whole week! Ogle brilliant downtown and neighborhood lights, dine at local restaurants, and shop in the eight festive cities.


A Country Christmas at Gaylord Opryland Resort | Nashville, TN

Where: Gaylord Opryland Resort
When: Through January 2, 2024
Tickets & Info:

Go for a completely immersive holiday experience at Gaylord Opryland Resort. The three million lights and infinite decorations begin upon entrance to the grounds, and the magic continues throughout the property, indoors and out. Take in the breathtaking scenery on foot or hop on a boat for an indoor river ride. Additional activities include ice skating, ice tubing, gingerbread house decorating, the Soundwaves indoor water park, and the Polar Express-themed Ice! multi-sensory experience.

Nashville Gaylord Opryland Resort
You could spend hours roaming through the garden conservatory and hotel halls, but there is so much more to do! Image: Nashville Parent Guide

Fantasy in Lights | Pine Mountain, GA

Where: Callaway Resort & Gardens
When: Through January 1, 2024
Tickets & Info:

Listed as one of National Geographic’s “Top 10 Light Displays in the World,” this annual experience features over eight million lights that create dozens of larger-than-life Christmas and holiday displays within a gorgeous natural forest. The Christmas Village is open for shopping and meet-and-greets with favorite holiday characters.


Southern Lights | Lexington, KY

Where: Kentucky Horse Park
When: Through December 31, 2023
Tickets & Info:

Now in its 30th year, this spectacular drive-through experience features more than a million lights and giant characters to “ooh” and “ahh” from the comfort of your car. After driving the three-mile route, stop by the Holiday Market to see some animals and snap a photo with Santa.

Suwannee Lights | Live Oak, FL

Where: Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park and Campground
When: Through December 30, 2023
Tickets & Info:

An overwhelming display of more than 12 million lights transforms the lush banks of the Suwannee River into a wonderland of color and cheer. This is one of the most immense Christmas light displays in the South. There are also food and drink vendors, live entertainment, and photo ops.

Celebration in The Oaks | New Orleans, LA

Where: City Park
When: Through December 30, 2023
Tickets & Info:

New Orleans offers so much holiday magic, but City Park’s famous oaks swathed in more than a million twinkling lights are indeed a breathtaking light display you need to see. The 2.25-mile Driving Tour of the Park takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes, and make sure to tune into 103.7 for holiday classics. If you visit from December 7 through 9, 2023, add Luna Fête to your itinerary — a free and one-of-a-kind digitally minded festival.

celebration in the oaks
Celebration in The Oaks (and NOLA in general) is high on our bucket list this winter. Just LOOK at these photos! Image: Celebration in the Oaks

Lights Under Louisville | Louisville, KY

Where: Louisville Mega Cavern
When: Through January 1, 2024
Tickets & Info:

This is one of the South’s most extraordinary holiday experiences and the world’s only underground holiday light show! For about 30 minutes, your carload of pals will explore 17 miles of underground passageways transformed with more than four million lights and 900 delightful characters.

Speedway Christmas | Concord, NC

Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway
When: Through January 7, 2024
Tickets & Info:

The Southeast’s largest drive-through holiday light display, Speedway Christmas, is back. Four million LED lights are strewn across a four-mile course with more than 800 individual displays! Guests can park amid the displays and visit the Christmas Village to get photos with Santa, shop for gifts, and make s’mores by the fire. Catch a drive-in holiday movie on the enormous 16,000-square-foot screen, or make a reservation to dine at The Speedway Club above the lights.

World of Illumination’s Enchanted Safari | Marietta, GA

Where: Six Flags White Water
When: Through December 31, 2023
Tickets & Info:

Experience the “jingle of the jungle” this season as Atlanta’s Six Flags is transformed into a festive wilderness-adventure-themed driving safari through land, sea, and air! Your host, Toukie Toucan, leads you through a wonderland of exotic displays set to music.

Enjoy the season!


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Zoe Yarborough
About the Author
Zoe Yarborough

Zoe is a StyleBlueprint staff writer, Charlotte native, Washington & Lee graduate, and Nashville transplant of eleven years. She teaches Pilates, helps manage recording artists, and likes to "research" Germantown's food scene.