by Jenni Barnett
on Friday, November 22nd, 2019 at 9:20am.
Does your family normally cruise around searching for holiday light displays every year, or settle for waving at The Parthenon in its lit-up holiday glory? This year, up your game with Parks' guide to the Best Places to See Christmas Lights in Middle Tennessee!
We’ve selected seven award-winning stops from all around the region, at a range of prices: from astounding, world-renowned commercial displays to the most beautifully decorated private neighborhoods. Whether you’re looking for a musically synchronized dancing light experience or a long walk down a romantic lane of classic lights, we have the perfect destination for you and yours listed below.
Gaylord Opryland’s A Country Christmas 2800 Opryland Dr | Nashville | Donelson Cost: Free Admission Parking: $29 - $40
Gaylord Opryland is famous for pulling out all the stops at Christmas, and their light display is no exception. Visitors can expect to marvel at over 3 million holiday lights laid out over acres of breathtaking decorations, all perfect for snapping family photos. A Country Christmas is open from November 8 to January 1, 2020.
The resort offers free admission to the public, light display included. Please note that parking is $29 for the self-park lots and $40 for valet parking. If you decide to dine at one of the resort’s restaurants, you will be given a voucher that waives the parking fee in either lot.
If you would like to experience the full lineup of Christmas activities (from ice skating to waterslides!) at Gaylord Opryland, call 615-889-1000 or visit their website to purchase tickets.
LIGHTS at Cheekwood 1200 Forrest Park Dr | Nashville | Belle Meade Cost: $14 - $22
Cheekwood Estate, one of the finest historical mansions in the nation, is hosting Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood this year. Beginning November 23, visitors will be invited to tour a mile-long path of over one million lights winding through the estate’s famous botanical gardens. Additionally, the path is peppered with dozens of fully-lit photo opportunities and interactive experiences, including costumed carolers, visits with Santa, a s’mores-making fire pit, and a chance to pet the region’s only live reindeer!
More than 60,000 visitors attended Holiday LIGHTS in 2018, so consider purchasing tickets well in advance. LIGHTS at Cheekwood is a timed event, so be sure to arrive before 5 p.m., even if you already have tickets. Once you’ve been admitted, you and your guests will be welcome to stay until Cheekwood closes at 10 p.m.
This year, Cheekwood Estate is introducing a new display called Pinnacles of Light. This outdoor display features 17 fully programmable LED trees, all of which were custom-crafted specifically for this event. Other must-see new features include hundreds of poinsettias arranged as a wall, portraits with Santa (even for pets!), and a larger-than-life antique train installation with a slide and play space.
Ticket prices vary by age and date of visit. A $5 surcharge will be added if tickets are purchased at the gate. To learn more about Holiday LIGHTS, or to purchase tickets online, visit cheekwood.org.
Please note: Cheekwood recommends that visitors bring flashlights because not all areas of the estate will be lit for this event.
Hoover Lights (formerly Lights on Old Charlotte and Lights on Sparrow Street) 1390 Neil Rd. Chapel Hill, TN 37034 | Franklin | Cost: Free – Donations for charity encouraged
In 2019, two famous Tennessee light displays are joining forces. After taking a year off to prepare for this new venture, Lights on Sparrow Street and Lights on Old Charlotte are back as Hoover Lights!
Inspired by Chuck Smith, the father of computerized light displays, the 2019 show promises to be huge, with more than 80,000 computerized lights on both sides of the street set to dance to a soundtrack that visitors can tune into from their car’s radio.
In this its founding year, Hoover Lights promises to be a stunning, choreographed show that continues the traditions the two beloved former light displays began. The creator of Hoover Lights, Chad Hoover, grants all donations to local Nashville nonprofit Graceworks Ministries, so please consider adding to the over $50,000 donated over the last six years by looking for the lit-up donation box when you visit.
Dancing Lights of Christmas 945 E Baddour Pkwy | Lebanon | Cost: $25 per car
The famous Dancing Lights of Christmas are back this year at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center (perhaps best-known as the site of the Wilson County Fair). The team at Dancing Lights has been hard at work for months arranging over two million lights down the 2.5-mile route. This programmed light display, open nightly starting at 5 p.m., will “dance” to the tunes you’ll hear when you tune in to the directed FM channel, so turn up the music and enjoy the show!
At the end of the drive, visitors can stop by a petting zoo as well as enjoy concessions.
Please note that as one of the region’s most popular drive-through light displays, Dancing Lights becomes crowded on the weekends as Christmas approaches. If you idling in the car for upwards of two hours while you wait to view the lights doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, consider attending either earlier in the season, early in the evening, or on a weekday.
Dancing Lights of Christmas supports several charities, including Ronald McDonald House, Tennessee Kidney Foundation, Lebanon’s Historic Fiddlers Grove, and Second Harvest Food Bank.
Chad’s Winter Wonderland 791 East Old Laguardo Road | Lebanon | Cost: $15 per car. $20 per van, limousine, or other commercial vehicles. Clearance 9’.Cash only. This business does not accept checks, nor can they process debit or credit transactions.
Founded by Wilson County Commissioner Chad Barnard when he was a child back in 1982, Chad’s Winter Wonderland has grown to be one of the largest Christmas light displays in the country.
At last count, Chad was up to 2 million lights arranged around more than 350 scenery pieces. This year sees the return of the beloved drive-through Nativity, 90-arch illuminated tunnel, and synchronized light display; clearly, this independent local favorite has something for everyone in the family! Be sure to visit Santa at his home where you can hand-deliver Dear Santa letters, wave hello to the dancing snowman, and see live animals. Visitors are invited to explore all eight acres of the interactive Christmas festivities.
Chad’s Winter Wonderland is open Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Cash donations for charities supporting local children and volunteers are accepted on-site.
Franktown Festival of Lights 4215 Long Lane | Franklin | Cost: $25 per car
As the only drive-through light extravaganza in Williamson County, Franktown Festival of Lights has been deemed an immediate hit by the locals. Presented by Franklin Synergy Bank, the festival is dedicated to providing a relaxing holiday experience by showcasing the best in modern light displays and decorations in concert with classic Christmas music broadcast right to your car’s radio.
Visitors can take a leisurely drive through a mile of more than 200 light displays. Then Franklin Synergy Bank hopes you’ll visit Santa’s village! Say hello and snap a photo with Santa and pick up cookies and a warm beverage. Children can ride camels,participate in holiday activities, ride the carousel and Ferris wheel, and visit the petting zoo!
Open nightly from November 22 – December 28 from 6 – 10 p.m. Franktown Festival of Lights visitors must bring a device (such as a smartphone or tablet) that can display a QR code.
Lights in Hillsboro/West End Westmoreland Ave, West Linden, and others | Nashville | Cost: Free
Ask anyone in Nashville, and the answer’s the same 99% of the time: Hillsboro West End has the BEST neighborhood Christmas lights in town. Residents in this area outdo themselves every year by placing lights on every potential surface, installing both inflatable and motorized decorations, piping in music, creating several Nativities, and erecting lit archways.
In addition to their incredible Christmas displays, HWEN offers horse-drawn carriage rides as a neighborhood fundraiser each year. Tickets must be purchased in advance because they always sell out quickly and are the best way to enjoy this local neighborhood gem.
If you aren’t able to snag a carriage ride, this neighborhood’s sidewalks are another way to see the decorations up close and snag some great photos. Once you’ve explored the neighborhood on foot, make a stop at Hillsboro Village for some coffee or cider to warm your bones.
Streets you shouldn’t miss:
Fairfax Avenue and Blair Boulevard
Sunset Place between 25th and Natchez Trace
The “loop” formed by Westmoreland Avenue and West Linden on their way to Natchez Trace
This season, you can help keep local traditions thriving in the most enjoyable way: just whip up some hot chocolate, crank those Christmas tunes, and head out to tour Middle Tennessee’s most enchanting Christmas light displays!
If you have a recommendation for a gorgeous neighborhood light display, leave us a comment below. Thanks, as always, for visiting Parks at Home. We wish you a very Merry Christmas!