9 Merry and Bright Holiday Light Shows to Visit With Your Pet

By: Kristen ArendtPublished: Updated:

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9 Merry and Bright Holiday Light Shows to Visit With Your Pet

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas—at least when it comes to twinkling holiday lights! All across the country, parks, neighborhoods and other public places are installing spectacular holiday light shows, where you can wander or drive through an expertly illuminated winter wonderland.

Because they’re usually held outside and often include drive-through options, holiday light shows are one holiday tradition that’s accessible to most of us in 2020—and for those same reasons, they’re also a perfect seasonal treat to enjoy with your pet by your side. So pack a thermos of hot chocolate (for you, not your pet!), toss your winter jacket in the car, outfit your pup in their Christmas apparel (we’re just guessing they have a stylin’ holiday sweater) and head out to enjoy your local holiday light display. Who knows? This memorably bright night with your furry companion might just become your new favorite holiday tradition.

Before You Go

As you plan your trip to a holiday light show, keep your pet’s safety in mind. The Center for Pet Safety recommends buckling your pet into the car in a crash-tested safety harness, and avoiding long tethers or zipline-style products, which can cause injury if your pet gets tangled in them. It’s also a bad idea to let your pet hang their head out of an open window, the group advises, because of the risk of injury to your pet’s eyes from debris in the air.

Read more about keeping your dog safe in the car.

If you plan to leave your car and stroll through holiday lights at a pet-friendly area, remember to follow all the rules of the venue, including leash requirements. And of course, always follow the CDC’s guidelines for COVID-19 safety, including wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet from others, and washing your hands after you leave a public place.

Alabama: 2020 Galaxy of Lights

Alabama: 2020 Galaxy of Lights
Huntsville Botanical Gardens
Location: Huntsville, Alabama
Dates Open: November 27, 2020 – January 2, 2021
Admission Cost: $18-$30 per vehicle

Celebrating 25 years, the annual Galaxy of Lights at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens offers both a drive-through and a walk-through experience; opt for drive-through if you plan to attend with your pet in tow. Prepare to be dazzled by the 2.5 miles of light displays. Along the route, you’ll spot classic Christmas characters and twinkling holiday displays all complemented by the beautiful natural setting of the botanical gardens.

California: Christmas in Color

California: Christmas in Color
Christmas in Color
Location: Los Angeles, California
Dates Open: December 4, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Admission Cost: $35 per vehicle

Get ready to be immersed in lights, music and holiday cheer. This drive-through display will take you and your pet’s Christmas light viewing to the next level. Tune into the provided FM radio station for a synchronized musical display. You can jam out to the holiday tunes as you enjoy this 30-minute drive through Christmas trees, candy canes and festive holiday light tunnels. And if you aren’t located in California, Christmas in Color also puts on five other drive-through displays across Utah, Colorado, Minnesota, and Idaho for some of the best holiday light viewing around the nation. Feliz Navi-dog indeed!

Florida: St. Augustine Nights of Lights

Florida: St. Augustine Nights of Lights
FloridasHistoricCoast.com
Location: Saint Augustine, Florida
Dates Open: November 14, 2020 – January 31, 2021
Admission Cost: Free

The pet-friendly, ocean-front town of St. Augustine is known as the oldest city in the United States. But during the holidays, it’s also known for its annual award-winning Nights of Lights extravaganza. An on-leash stroll along the dog-friendly sections of historic downtown St. Augustine (from St. George Street to the Castillo de San Marcos) is certain to put you and you pup in the holiday spirit. Plus, how many places in the world can you enjoy lit-up palm trees in December? Your best friend will fur-ever thank you for a night-time holiday stroll around this beautiful city.

Kentucky: Lights Under Louisville

Kentucky: Lights Under Louisville
Louisville Mega Cavern
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
Dates Open: November 13, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Admission Cost: $30 per vehicle

The drive-through show at Lights Under Louisville might take the cake for the most creative holiday light sight-seeing experience. You and your pet can enjoy a 30-minute ride with over 40 themed displays, 850 lit characters and over 5 million points of light. But that isn’t even the best part. This drive takes you under Louisville on a wonder-filled exploration of underground passageways that make up the Louisville Mega Cavern, a former limestone mine. Prepare to be completely dazzled as you drive though the twinkling holiday light display in the dark of these massive underground caverns.

Massachusetts: Bright Nights at Forest Park

Massachusetts: Bright Nights at Forest Park
Bright Nights at Forest Park
Location: Springfield, Massachusetts
Dates Open: November 25, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Admission Cost: $23 per vehicle

Long hailed as one of the Northeast’s premier holiday light shows, this year’s Bright Nights at Forest Park will be limited to a drive-through experience for pets and people. As you drive along this magical journey, you’ll encounter themed displays ranging from the North Pole Village to Toy Land. You and your pet might especially appreciate Suess Land where you can spot favorite animal characters like Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat and everyone’s favorite holiday canine, Max, the Grinch’s faithful companion. Fun fact: Dr. Seuss was born in Springfield—very fitting for a light display that might remind you of Dr. Seuss’s fantastically festive Whoville.

Nevada: Glittering Lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Nevada: Glittering Lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Glittering Lights
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Dates Open: November 13, 2020 – January 10, 2021
Admission Cost: $25-$35 per vehicle

Drive on over to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Nevada’s premier holiday event. This year, Glittering Lights is celebrating 20 years and is happy to welcome furry friends to accompany their families as they drive through the lights. This 2.5-mile drive-through course features over 5 million LED lights making up over 500 animated and sparkling displays. And as an added bonus, a portion of every ticket sold benefits the Speedway Children's Charity, so you can give back while taking your pet on a pawsitively delightful holiday outing.

North Carolina: Christmas Town USA

North Carolina: Christmas Town USA
Glittering Lights
Location: McAdenville, North Carolina
Dates Open: December 1 – December 26, 2020
Admission Cost: Free.

Over the years—65 years to be exact—the holiday light display in McAdenville has earned this small town the nickname “Christmas Town USA.” This free display is the result of a community decorating their homes to bring joy to visitors. Think of it as a true labor of love, with local residents and businesses going all-out, Griswold-style, to create entire streets and neighborhoods lit up in full festive fashion. The results are spectacular, earning this DIY show a reputation as one of the best Christmas light displays in the nation. In fact, this year it’s in the running for the USA Today 2020 Holiday Readers Choice Award for best public holiday lights display. And although the city will not be lighting the pond and has cancelled some events this year, the rest of the town will continue to deck the halls. You and your pet are welcome to walk around town as long as you stick to the sidewalks, keep your pup on leash and practice social distancing.

Oregon: Winter Wonderland Portland

Oregon: Winter Wonderland Portland
Glittering Lights
Location: Portland, Oregon
Dates Open: November 27, 2020 – January 2, 2021
Admission Cost: $20-$25 per vehicle

Hosted by the Portland International Raceway, the annual Winter Wonderland event has major bragging rights: It’s the largest holiday light show west of the Mississippi. For the 28th annual drive-through event this year, you can take a lap of the racetrack and enjoy the dazzling light display from the comfort of your car. Go ahead, roll down your windows and open your sunroof so you and your pet can take in the view of over 250 colorful light sets and several fully animated displays. While organizers will not be hosting their usual dog walking night in 2020, you can bet your pup will still enjoy soaking in the scenery from the comfort of the passenger seat.

Texas: Austin Trail of Lights

Texas: Austin Trail of Lights
Glittering Lights
Location: Austin, Texas
Dates Open: November 28, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Admission Cost: $25-$35 per vehicle

The 56th annual Trail of Lights returns to Austin’s Zilker Park as a drive-through only event, and this year, your fur family is invited to ride along! This always-outstanding event will feature 2 million lights, 90 lighted trees and 70 displays and lighted tunnels. That’s enough holiday magic to brighten your heart and light up your pup’s eyes. Cameras are permitted, so be sure to bring yours along so you can snap a few shots under the glittering Trail of Lights night sky. Just remember: Pets (and people) must remain inside their vehicle at all times along the Trail of Lights.
If you don’t see a holiday light show near you on this list, don’t despair. Instead, check with your local city venues to see if they are offering a Christmas light display. Many places offer a few dog-friendly nights or a pet-friendly drive-through experience. If all else fails, grab a leash and take your pet on a stroll out your front door to enjoy your neighborhood decorations, or consider putting up your own holiday décor. Either way, you’ll be sure to make the holidays a bit more merry and bright, both for you and your pet.

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By: Kristen ArendtPublished: Updated:

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