10 of the Best Holiday Lights Displays in the South

If you thought your neighbor went overboard during the holiday season with their Christmas lights and lawn decor, think again. For these Southern towns there is no such thing as going overboard with holiday lights.

It takes weeks of planning and dozens of volunteers to pull off these holiday light displays. You won’t find the Grinch or Mr. Scrooge in any of these places, only the true spirit of Christmas that is sure to bring out the kid in all of us.

Asheville, North Carolina 

Flickr/ Paul Blake Howard

The perfect Christmas at The Biltmore takes months of planning. A roughly 30-foot Christmas tree is brought into the estate’s banquet hall where it is then embellished with seas of lights and ornaments. It doesn’t stop there; tens of thousands of lights and 150 candles are displayed throughout the estate and over 300 luminaries light your way path, making it a sight to be seen both inside and out.

McAdenville, North Carolina 

Flickr/ Randomsolell

McAdenville, North Carolina, also known as Christmas Town USA, receives more than 600,000 visitors annually. The small mill town illuminates for 26 days through the holiday season with hundreds of thousands of lights. Adding to the ambiance, music plays throughout the streets as visitors enjoy the illumination of over 400 trees. Anyone who experiences this magic will truly feel as if they were swept into a magical storybook tale.

Nashville, Tennessee

Flickr/ Denise Mattox

As if the Opryland Resort wasn’t already a mind-numbing experience within itself, Christmas time only adds to the resorts appeal. Stroll along and take in the exquisite scenery holiday light displays using over two million lights. A self-guided tour of stunningly decorated Christmas trees and an outdoor Nativity display with special lighting effects are some of the other draws of the experience you won’t want to miss.

Pine Mountain, Georgia


For its guests, Christmas time at Calloway Gardens brings a spectacular experience only fully understood by those who have been. Eight million lights dazzle along a five-mile stretch of wooded landscape and music plays along the entire path. No wonder this destination was named one of the top 10 light displays in the world by National Geographic.

Natchitoches, Louisiana


Historical downtown Natchitoches is the place to be during Christmas season. With over 100 set pieces along Cane River Lake and 300,000 lights illuminating the riverbank, it’s hard not to get into the Christmas spirit. Many events take place here throughout the holiday months giving visitors plenty of excuses to enjoy the dazzling view.

Charleston, South Carolina

The quaint, historical town of Charleston is a must visit any time of year, but during Christmas time, the family can really get into the holiday season at James Island County park. Hop on the train for a tantalizing experience of over two million lights. And after your ride around the park, the fun continues with marshmallow roasting and magnificent sand sculptures.

Gaitlinburg, Tennessee

If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind LED light display, look no further than Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The Trolley Ride of Lights takes you through your very own winter wonderland. With displays that replicate animals of the Smokey Mountains, dancing fountains, snowmen and more, you are in for an enchanting night of Christmas magic.

Galveston, Texas

Flickr/ Mark Taylor Cunningham
Flickr/ Mark Taylor Cunningham

Galveston doesn’t disappoint when it comes to lighting up Texas for the holidays. Moody Gardens offers a picturesque scene with over one million lights within 100 sound-enhanced animated lighting displays.

Austin, Texas

Flickr/ The Austinot
Flickr/ The Austinot

Austin’s Trail of Lights strives to preserve the past while offering new and exciting additions to their traditional light show each year. More than two million lights illuminate over 50 displays and exhibits attract hundreds of thousands of people to Zilker Park to share in the festivities. And to top it off, right in the middle of it all stands a 155 foot man-made Christmas tree — the tallest free-standing tree in the world.

Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville Botanical Garden
Huntsville Botanical Garden

The extravagant light display at Huntsville Botanical Gardens is a special treat for all those with Christmas magic in their heart. With life size animated holiday light displays including Santa Claus and your favorite nursery rhyme characters along a two and half mile stretch, there’s sure to be something everyone can enjoy. And, for a special treat, be sure to get lost in the twinkling lights of the icicle forest.

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10 of the Best Holiday Lights Displays in the South