by Jenni Barnett
on Monday, November 22nd, 2021 at 11:56am.
In the midst of the flurry of activity that so often pervades our holiday season, many of us treasure the relaxation and joy we experience on our annual holiday light viewing trips around Middle Tennessee. If you’re planning to connect with the beauty of the season on a holiday light expedition, we highly recommend the following destinations as the Best Holiday Light Experiences in the region.
1200 Forrest Park Drive | Nashville Open Daily November 20 – January 09 | 5 PM - 10 PM Walking Tour | FAQ
Cheekwood Estates is once again opening the gates of their historic mansion’s breathtaking grounds for Holiday Lights. This tour’s path winds through more than a mile of 0ver 1 million lights and leads to s’mores pits, magical encounters with Middle Tennessee’s only real reindeer, and a cash bar featuring hot toddies and delicious seasonal beverages.
Cheekwood Estates will also have several beautiful, fully-lit photo opportunities set up for you and your loved ones. Costumed carolers will be singing, and Santa’s Mailbox will be open for little ones to drop their letters right to the North Pole. Inside the Frist Learning Center, you’ll have access to an exclusive holiday marketplace, so bring your holiday shopping list!
Cheekwood suggests that visitors bring flashlights, since not every part of the estate will be lighted for the event. This event is not fully accessible for wheelchair users or individuals with mobility limitations.
Holiday Lights is usually patronized by over 60,000 visitors, so please purchase your tickets well ahead of your visit. Parking is available on-site, though overflow parking will be utilized on busy days. Cheekwood is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve.
1033 Sparta Pike | Lebanon Open Daily November 12 – January 02 | 5 PM - 10 PM Sun – Thurs, 11 PM Fri - Sat Driving Tour
The Dancing Lights of Christmas returns to the site of the Wilson County Fair once again, with over 2 million lights illuminating a 2.5-mile drive. This programmed light display will dance along to the music played on the broadcasted FM channel—just tune in and get ready for an amazing, choreographed display!
Once you’ve reached the end of the lit-up lanes, you’ll have the opportunity to visit Santa in his village, shop for delicious concessions, and enjoy the friendly animals at the petting zoo.
Dancing Lights donates a portion of its proceeds to multiple local and national charities, which partially contributes to their massive popular appeal. As the holidays approach, please be aware that visitors often encounter a wait time of more than 2 hours.
If you wish to avoid the wait, we encourage you to purchase tickets online and get a jump on your trip as early as possible. Otherwise, arrive early to reserve your spot in line, or attend on a weekday.
4215 Long Lane | Franklin Open Daily November 22 – December 28 | 6 PM - 10 PM Driving Tour
Franktown Festival of Lights is the only driving tour holiday light display in Williamson County, so it’s little wonder that, with its more than 200 displays, this festival is a huge hit! Tune your car’s radio to the festival’s FM stream to enjoy classic holiday tunes as you drive, and end your tour at Santa’s village.
After your photo opportunity with Santa, stop by concessions for some yummy snacks (including s’mores kits, caramel apples, hot chocolate, funnel cakes, nachos, hot dogs, and more) and a comforting warm beverage. Holiday activities for children, including camel rides, a carousel, and a Ferris wheel, are sure to bring joy this season.
Bring your smartphone or tablet—you'll need your QR capabilities for the festival. Tickets are required and can be purchased online here. All proceeds from this non-profit event will support FrankTown Open Hearts, a charity that seeks to improve the lives and skillsets of at-risk youth.
1001 Ash Circle | La Vergne Open Daily November 24 – January 5 | 5 PM - 10 PM Neighborhood Display | Walking Tour
In 2012, a family tragically lost their little girl, London, who was only 21 months old. Her father, in hopes of turning his heartbreak into work that helped others, began the first display known as London’s Lights.
The non-profit light display has expanded every year since then, and this year visitors will enjoy over 800,000 lights as they walk through the stunning light displays along Ash Circle. On some dates, food trucks will be here; and campfires will warm you and yours as you enjoy the show.
If you visit on December 4, 11, 18, or 24, be sure to bring your camera, or clean up your phone lens! Santa himself will be here from 6 PM to 8 PM, reclining next to his fireplace under perfect professional lighting.
While London’s Lights remains a free tour, London’s father hopes visitors will donate to benefit Vanderbilt Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital and local youth ministries or donate toys and cash to help under-served children and families this holiday season.
Local authorities request that visitors keep traffic moving, and park only in the 3 cul-de-sacs adjoining the main light display.
1390 Neil Road | Chapel Hill Open Daily Late November – December 31 | 4:30 PM - 10 PM Neighborhood Display | Driving Tour
Hoover Lights is the result of two renowned light displays, Lights on Old Charlotte and lights on Sparrow Street, combining their efforts to create an exciting, computerized light show. As you drive through Hoover Lights, be sure to tune in to the display’s FM broadcast to enjoy a choreographed dancing light display along both sides of the street.
Admission to Hoover Lights is free, but the creator, Chad Hoover, encourages visitors to donate to Nashville’s own Grace Ministries.
7211 Bowie Lake Road | Fairview Open Daily November 26 – January 9 | 6 PM - 10 PM Driving Tour | FAQ
This year, immerse yourself in a mile-long fantasy light spectacle at Bowie Lake Nature Park! Lasers, lights, sounds, and video displays will be combined to create this stunning display.
Due to the show’s popularity, it’s strongly recommended that you buy your tickets as soon as possible, and arrive early to avoid a long wait. Once you’ve purchased your ticket, you may redeem it any day and time the tour is open!
2800 Opryland Drive | Nashville Open Daily November 12 – January 2 | 5 PM - 10 PM Walking Tour | FAQ
Every year, Marriott’s Gaylord Opryland drenches the resort and hotel with acres of 3 million holiday lights, complete with family-friendly activities, Buddy the Elf, and dozens of photo-ready decorative displays.
Admission to the resort and light display is free to the public, but there is a fee for parking on-site. Dining on-site will grant you a voucher for complimentary parking, though!
151 East Main Street | Hendersonville Open Daily November 28 – December 27 | 5 PM - 9 PM Driving Tour
Drive through the Cherokee entrance at Memorial Park and experience Hendersonville’s Ultimate Festival of Lights! This gorgeous light show is connected to this community’s network of light displays. To enjoy other destinations nearby, pick up a copy of the Festival of Lights map either online, or in-person at the Parks Office and City Hall.
791 Old Laguardo Road East | Lebanon Open Daily November 24 – December 31 | 5 PM - 9 PM
Wilson City’s own County Commissioner, Chad Barnard, has been working on this light display annually since 1982. Now, it’s one of the most massive light displays in the USA!
Come see over 2 million lights adorning more than 350 display pieces, drive through a nativity scene, enjoy a computerized light display, and pass through a 90-arch tunnel of lights! Santa will be waiting at his home for the little ones, so bring Dear Santa letters to deliver in person. Next, visit the miniature zoo—or immerse yourself in eight full acres of magical scenes.
Please note: Chad’s Winter Wonderland is a cash-based business.
So, which light extravaganzas do you plan to visit? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below, especially if you’re visiting a display we haven’t mentioned.
This holiday season, enjoy the return of all your favorite traditions, especially those that bring love and joy to you, your family, and your community.