A long-held favorite holiday pastime is driving around looking at houses decorated with Christmas lights, lawn ornaments, and dazzling displays of seasonal cheer. If you're planning to visit Nashville or the Middle Tennessee region, there are plenty of great places to experience the joy of the holiday season with your family.
These annual twinkling displays—all in celebration of the Christmas season—are enough to keep you coming back to the Nashville region year after year.
Chad's Winter Wonderland
Open nightly from Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve, Chad's Winter Wonderland in Lebanon is just a half-hour drive northeast of Nashville—and totally worth the trip. Along with over two million Christmas lights, the attraction features a drive-through Santa house (with a real Santa inside), Dancing Snowman, and a Christmas train.
For decades, Chad Bernard has been putting up this drive-through holiday light display, one of the nation's largest, and it's become one of the favorite places for residents seeking a fun family outing. Chad's may close during inclement weather, but otherwise, you can enjoy the lights from 5—10 p.m. every night of the week. The cost is $20 for a family vehicle and only cash is accepted.
The Dancing Lights of Christmas
Also located in Lebanon, The Dancing Lights of Christmas is a scenic driving tour through the James E. Ward Agricultural Center where visitors get to view numerous lighted displays celebrating the Christmas season.
The drive-through display is open nightly from November 13, 2020, to January 2, 2021. The usual holiday activities—getting pictures taken with Santa, pony rides, jumping high in the spider jump machine, climbing the rock wall, or taking a ride on a Christmas train—are canceled for the 2020 season, nor are there concessions for sale. The price to drive through and see this magical light display is $25 for a family vehicle.
Christmas on the Cumberland
About an hour northwest of Nashville on I-24, over one million Christmas lights are on display in the city of Clarksville's annual festival of lights, Christmas on the Cumberland. Every year, this event attracts over 10,000 people to this small city where the park RiverWalk at McGregor Park is decorated with several holiday light displays, including giant toy soldiers, animated toys, and a tunnel of lights.
This free event opens every night at 5 p.m. from November 24, 2020, to January 1, 2021. The City of Clarksville is also putting on several events throughout the month of December in the park, including caroling, hot chocolate, Christmas card creations, and letters to Santa. Visitors in 2020 are reminded to maintain social distancing at all times and, when not possible, to put on a face mask.
Now over a decade old, Hoover Lights is located in Chapel Hill, Tennessee, about an hour south of Nashville. The event puts on a grand show using a computerized Christmas display with over 80,000 Christmas lights, for what is undoubtedly of the most high-tech holiday shows in the area. This entire display is enjoyed from inside your vehicle so you can tune your radio to the station to which the lights are choreographed.
Hoover Lights is open every night from 4:30–10 p.m., beginning the day after Thanksgiving and running until New Year's Eve (the display sometimes closes down due to bad weather). It's free to enjoy, and the organizers ask that you make a donation to a group of your choosing.
Gaylord Opryland's Country Christmas
Nearly two million Christmas lights draw visitors from near and far to see this annual spectacular, a tradition among locals and always a favorite. You can ice skate, go tubing on a snow hill, have breakfast with your favorite Charlie Brown characters, and, of course, marvel at the incredible light display.
It's usually free of charge to enter the Gaylord Opryland Country Christmas and take in the lights, with additional costs only for certain activities like tubing or ice skating. However, through the holiday season 2020 and until January 3, 2021, only guests staying at the hotel or non-guests with paid tickets are allowed to enter, in order to minimize the crowds.
Get into the holiday spirit with a fun, family laser show in the Sudekum Planetarium inside the Adventure Science Center in Nashville. Running selected dates until December 27, 2020, "Laser Holidays" is a Christmas and holiday-themed laser show set to some of the best classic and modern hits of the festive season.
The 2020 tracklist includes renditions of Christmas favorites from artists like Mariah Carey, Michael Bublé, Dolly Parton, and Dean Martin, which are all brilliantly choreographed to the moving lights, making for an unforgettable and different way to see Christmas lights this December.
Walk Thru Bethlehem
Walk Thru Bethlehem is canceled in 2020 and returns on December 12, 2021.
Started in 1982, Walk Thru Bethlehem, presented by Woodmont Christian Church, has offered Nashville a delightful living recreation of the ancient city for one night only every year. The focus of the even is on the birth of Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas. While there is no admission charge, donations, which benefit local community-based initiatives, are accepted.