With 101 things to do for Christmas listed elsewhere, this may feel a little redundant. But the holiday lights in North Texas deserve their own guide.
Highland Park: Roll into the neighborhood at Armstrong Parkway and Preston. (Just look for the Million Dollar Monarch, the famed pecan tree that marks the site of the oldest lighting ceremony in Dallas County.) Drive slow and marvel at the expensive homes decked out in expensive lights within the confines of Armstrong, Preston, Mockingbird, and the Tollway. If you’ve got a couple hundred bucks to spend on Christmas light cheer, book a carriage ride, which leaves from the On The Border restaurant at Knox and Cole and winds through HP. Free, but with option for $175+ carriage ride.
Southwestern Boulevard: Go ahead and hit this before or after your Highland Park tour, as the University Park boulevard is lit in magnificent fashion essentially all the way between Central and the Tollway. Look out for the head of Big Tex on a roof. Free.
Kessler Park: Head to Oak Cliff and go west on Colorado until you reach the intersection at Laussane Ave., which you’ll know by the five gorgeously illuminated big trees. The neighborhood is quite scenic year-round, with a great view of the downtown skyline and old-for-Dallas homes that are even more striking when strung with lights. Free.
Timberhollow Circle: The homes on this cul-de-sac in Lake Highlands (here for directions) coordinate for a united “12 Days of Christmas” display. That’s just one street, but it’s a special one. Much of the surrounding neighborhood is also impressively decked out, and you can probably see some other worthwhile lights while you’re in the surrounding area. Free.
Swiss Avenue: In the past, we’ve been more impressed by Swiss Avenue’s Halloween scene than its Christmas cheer. Regardless, these are some of the most beautiful homes in Dallas. The historic district does not go as all-out as some of the other neighborhoods on this list — it’s a little more tasteful, more reserved — but that may be just what you’re looking for. Free.
Spring Park near Garland/Plano/Richardson: Located near the three suburbs, this neighborhood’s lights are frequently breathtaking. Directions are here. You’ll want to cruise the neighborhood between Campbell and Renner, bound to the west by Jupiter and the George Bush Toll Road to the east. Free.
The M Streets: One house in particular, in the 5800 block of Marquita just east of Matilda, has a spectacular light show.
Interlochen Lights: A staple on lists like this for good reason, the holiday display in the Interlochen neighborhood in Arlington is notable enough to have its own Google reviews. Drive in at the intersection of Randol Mill Road and Westwood Drive and expect a leisurely tour, as the streets always fill up with cars full of holiday light gawkers. Free.
Deerfield: The Northwest Plano neighborhood is another perennial holiday favorite, and one that’s likely to be busy. The Deerfield Homeowners Association has directions and more tips for visitors. Free, although guests are encouraged to make a donation to Children’s Medical Center. Carriage rides available for $145+ if booked in advance.
(Note: East Dallas’ famed Electric Lizzyland is closed for 2017, but will return next year.)
Professional Drive-Through Shows
Farmers Branch Tour of Lights: Head to the intersection of Valley View Lane and I-35E and follow the lights, passing by hundreds of thousands of bulbs and more than a dozen unique animated scenes. The grand light finale is at Farmers Branch Historical Park, where Santa will make an appearance. $5 suggested donation per vehicle; money goes toward nonprofit organizations in North Texas.
Prairie Lights: The long light tunnel drops plenty of jaws at this 2-mile drive-through show in Grand Prairie, where visitors can see other light displays and eventually hop out of the car to walk through a “snowmazing maze” and lighted forest. Santa’s there too. $30 to $40 per car.
Texas Motor Speedway Gift of Lights: Take to the Fort Worth racetrack at non-NASCAR speeds for this lengthy show. $25 per car.
Downtown Dallas. We recommend taking in the big tree at Klyde Warren Park and the neighboring lights around the AT&T Performing Arts Center in the Arts District. Free.
Holiday Wonder at Fair Park: This new winter wonderland makes great use of Fair Park’s art deco majesty, with lanterns and lights brightening up the displays staged throughout the area, alongside live entertainment and a two-story slide. $12 to $20.
Dallas Zoo Lights: The zoo has debuted its own holiday lights for select nights through the end of the year, which come on after the animals have been put in. The idea is to come for the hippos, stay for the sunset and the three-dimensional light sculptures, light shows, and other entertainment. $12 to $15.
Magical Winter Lights at Lone Star Park: A Christmas fair with lanterns, lights, lighted lanterns, and live entertainment spreading even more cheer through Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie. Individual themed attractions at Magical Winter Lights include “Dinosaur Land” and “Mystery of the East.” $13 to $21.
Vitruvian Lights at Vitruvian Park: A rainbow of illuminated colors reflects off the water at this Addison park, which we’ve seen plastered all over Instagram this holiday season. Free.
Grapevine Light Show Spectacular: Grapevine bills itself as the “Christmas capital of Texas,” thanks at least in part to the nightly 20-minute light show (free) in the town square, and in another part to ICE!, a huge colorful ice sculpture exhibition at the Gaylord Texan ($13 to $33).
Christmas in the Frisco Square: One of the best light shows in North Texas happens nightly in the Frisco Square, made even better with fake snow flurries on Fridays and Saturdays. Free.