Holiday lights are not as big and spectacular as they used to be. It seems neighborhoods are decorating less and less, and we lost those famous Jennings Osborne Cantrell lights that people still talk about. I remember the area around the old University mall used to be much more spectacular. I remember looking for the "Globe Trotter's House" when I was a kid (Hubert “Geese” Ausbie used to go all out).
There is something magical about Christmas lights, especially to children. Driving around and looking at the light is a favorite holiday tradition of many families. The good news is that some neighborhoods keep up the old tradition of decking the halls (and it seems to be making a resurgence in recent years). Some neighborhoods are still worth driving through. We have an Arkansan who won the Great Christmas Light Fight last year (he's a bit of a drive, but he's listed here too).
I think shows like Great Christmas Light Fight and other holiday decorating shows are making decking the halls more popular. There are also some fun technological advances that make it more fun, like syncing your house to music or letting guests control your lights with an app. In 2015, there was a house in the Heights area that let you change their lights from your cell phone. That's pretty cool.
Advances like this make decorating your house even more fun. So, string up the LEDs, sync up the apps and make a jolly holiday, or just go look at these lights. That's probably easier.
I also have a list of public light displays if you don't feel like driving through neighborhoods.
North Hills in North Little Rock
Just driving down North Hills Boulevard is enough to give one a light overload, but if you drive in and out of the neighborhoods, you'll see lots more. Even the golf course (The Greens of North Hills) is decorated. We found a house covered in colored lights on Old Forge and several really neat ones with characters and inflatables. If you travel around the lakes of Lakewood and near the Old Mill, you'll also see some awesomely decorated houses.
Pleasant Valley is located near Rodney Parham road in Little Rock. The houses in this neighborhood normally decorate well. These are large houses with lots of inflatable Christmas decorations and some fun light displays too. There a few standout houses, but many of the houses at least have lights and a few decorations.
12th Street / University
This area used to be more spectacular, but some of the neighborhoods are still keeping the spirit alive. The best areas are near 12th, and the area across from the YWCA is always a hit (Cleveland Street). Some entire streets get in on the act. These aren't the largest houses, but they do have large spirit.
The areas around Cantrell and Kavanaugh are fun to drive through. Winding through the neighborhoods you'll see lots of well decorated homes. There's a house in Pierce Street that really decorates big time.
Edgewater in Maumelle
Though the displays are modest, they are plentiful. Driving down the various streets in the Edgewater neighborhood is bound to bring you some holiday cheer. Edgewater is the neighborhood around Lake Wilastein Park. The Country Club area of Maumelle is worth driving through too.
This is a long drive from Little Rock, but this is a private light display that takes 10-15 minutes to drive through (and you'll probably want to go twice, because it's that big). The Finney's won the Great Christmas Light Fight last year, and it was worth the drive to see it. It's located in
Crossett, which is about a two and a half hour drive. Make a day out of it and take your kids!
If these homes aren't enough for you, check out these public light displays. Some of them, like the state capitol, are even free. Even the Promenade at Chenal has wonderful Christmas lights for free. Some of the displays, like Garvan Gardens, do charge admission but they are worth the fee for light lovers.