10 dazzling holiday light displays in Massachusetts

From a Dorchester family home to a South Shore amusement park.

ZooLights at the Stone Zoo in Stoneham.
ZooLights at the Stone Zoo in Stoneham. –Courtesy Stone Zoo

With the arrival of the Nova Scotia Christmas tree and festive light displays popping up all over Boston, it’s safe to say Boston is fully in the holiday spirit. To celebrate, we’ve rounded up 10 of the coolest holiday lights displays in Massachusetts. Whether you’re looking for a family activity, romantic night out, or holiday-themed walk around the city, they’re definitely worth checking out this month.

Bright Nights, Springfield

The Everett Barney Mansion at Bright Nights in Springfield.
The Everett Barney Mansion at Bright Nights in Springfield. —Courtesy Bright Nights

Since opening in 1995, this staggeringly huge lights park has earned mentions in national publications like The New York Times and Yahoo! Travel. The place is a gem, with impressive displays of everything from the works of Springfield native Doctor Seuss to more traditional holiday tableaux. (Sundays through Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Fridays, Saturdays, and holidays from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. through January 1; Forest Park, Springfield; $18-$21 per car; all ages)

Somerville Illumination Trolley Tour

One of the Somerville homes included on the Illumination Tour.
One of the Somerville homes included on the Illumination Tour. —Courtesy Somerville Arts Council
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Every year, a number of Somerville residents go all out on their decorating, transforming their homes into blinding holiday beacons visible from blocks away. To highlight this, the Somerville Arts Council created the Illumination Trolley Tour, shuttling interested parties from house to house on a 45-minute ride, complete with cookies and hot chocolate. Tickets for the trolley (which go on sale December 3) are limited, but the Arts Council also provides a $3 map of the homes for people who want to take a walking tour. (Saturday, December 16 from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Somerville City Hall; $10 GA, $5 seniors ages 60 and up and kids ages 12 and under; all ages)

ZooLights, Stoneham

Zoo Lights at the Stone Zoo.
ZooLights at the Stone Zoo. —Courtesy Stone Zoo

Along with holiday-themed additions to many animal enclosures like lights and holly wreaths, each year the Stone Zoo puts together ZooLights, a dazzling holiday display that illuminates the zoo when darkness falls. (5 p.m. to 9 p.m. through December 31; Stone Zoo, Stoneham; $9 general admission, $8 for zoo members; all ages)

Boston Common

Boston, MA - 12/3/2015 - Fireworks explode near the tree during the annual Christmas tree lighting in the Boston Common in Boston, MA, December 3, 2015. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Fireworks explode during the annual Christmas tree lighting in the Boston Common. —Keith Bedford/Globe Staff

Boston continues its transformation into a winter wonderland each year with the Boston Common tree lighting, when the tree from Nova Scotia is illuminated. Arrive early and you can check out the Frog Pond Skating Spectacular, a free ice show from the Skating Club of Boston featuring national and international competitive figure skaters performing both solo and group routines. Even if you can’t make it for the ceremony, it’s still worth hitting the Boston Common for trees, ornaments, and structures adorned with sparkling lights. (Boston Common; free; all ages)

The Lynn Fells Parkway, Saugus

12/03/15: Saugus, MA: A Christmas display in front of the home of Mike Conlon on Lynn Fells Parkway in Saugus is pictured. (Globe Staff Photo/Jim Davis) section:nowk topic:20nolights
A light display on Lynn Fells Parkway in Saugus. —Jim Davis/Globe Staff
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Take a drive on a mile-long stretch of the Lynn Fells Parkway in Saugus, and you’ll see your fair share of impressive light displays. According to Wicked Local, the tradition dates back to the 1950s, when the neighborhood association would hold lighting contests that got people in the holiday spirit. (Lynn Fells Parkway, Saugus; free; all ages)

Blink! Faneuil Hall

Lights at Faneuil Hall.
Lights at Faneuil Hall. —Courtesy Faneuil Hall Marketplace

For the last few years, holiday shoppers around Faneuil Hall have been able to enjoy the audiovisual stylings of Blink!, a display that combines the brilliance of 350,000 LED lights with music from the Holiday Pops. The spectacle only lasts seven minutes, but it runs multiple times every night throughout the holiday season. (Daily from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. through January 1; Faneuil Hall Marketplace; free; all ages)

Winter Reimagined at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston

Winter Reimagined at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston.
Winter Reimagined at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston. —Courtesy Tower Hill Botanic Garden

One of the oldest botanical gardens in the nation is also home to one of the sweetest light displays in Massachusetts. The Tower Hill Botanic Garden’s winding paths and exotic plants offer the perfect atmosphere for a stunning holiday visage. The Garden is open both early and late, but charges slightly higher prices from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. to help offset operational costs. (Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. through January 7; Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston; $15/$17 GA, $10/$12 for seniors ages 65 and up, $5/7 for kids ages 6 to 18, free for members and kids ages 5 and under)

Fields Corner, Dorchester

The lights display at 392 Adams St. in Dorchester.
The lights display at 392 Adams St. in Dorchester. —Kevin Slane/Boston.com

Unlike most of the entries on this list, this light display isn’t put on by an organization; rather, it’s simply the hard work of a father-son duo that spends months getting their Dorchester home completely decked out for the holidays, according to a 2012 Boston.com article. For public transit travelers, the house is about a 10-minute walk from the Fields Corner stop on the Red Line. (392 Adams St., Dorchester; free; all ages)

La Salette Shrine, Attleboro

La Salette Shrine in Attleboro.
La Salette Shrine in Attleboro. —Courtesy La Salette Shrine
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For more than 60 years, La Salette Shrine in Attleboro has wowed visitors with displays featuring around 300,000 lights spread over 10 acres. The Shrine also features an international crèche museum, with more than 1,000 crèches from at least 100 different countries. (Daily from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. through January 1; The National Shrine of Our Lady Salette, Attleboro; free; all ages)

Edaville Festival of Lights, Carver

Carver 11/21/2010 - At the Edaville Railroad Christmas Festival of Lights, in what may be it's final season, hundreds came to enjoy the train ride and lights. A sign greets visitors. Photo by Debee Tlumacki for the Boston Globe (south) Reporter: Christine Legere
The entrance to the Edaville Festival of Lights. —Deb Tlumacki for the Boston Globe

The Edaville Heritage Railroad and Edaville USA amusement park are both delightful oddities worth checking out anytime of year. Thomas Land, the amusement park devoted to Thomas the Tank Engine, is just one of the uncommon attractions. When the holidays roll around, Edaville breaks out 17 million lights and special events like a “Where’s Santa?” train adventure to give visitors even more bang for their buck. (Mondays through Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. through January 1; Edaville USA, Carver; $34-47 GA, $29 seniors ages 60 and up and kids ages 3 and under)

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