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Drive through Christmas lights have long been a tradition for many families.
Did you ever pile into the station wagon, calling dibs on riding backward in the cargo area, while you drove through a local family’s light display? Growing up in the 70s, I have many fond memories of viewing the Christmas lights this way, only in my case, we were in the back of a pick-up truck, not a station wagon.
Drive-thru Christmas lights haven’t changed much over the years, as I still look forward to seeing each holiday season.
You may have seen our post on the best Christmas Light displays in Ohio and now, just in time for the holidays, we’ve compiled a list of the best drive-thru Christmas lights in Ohio!
We’ve checked to ensure the information we provide here is accurate at the time this was published but just to be on the safe side, we recommend that you confirm the details. We’ve made it easy for you by providing the websites.
So grab a thermos of hot chocolate, download your Christmas music, and hit the road for some festive family fun!
Best Drive-Through Christmas Lights in Northwest Ohio
Upper’s Winter Fantasy of Lights – 525 East Wyandot Ave., Upper Sandusky 43351
Join a 26-year tradition at Harrison Smith Park, with millions of lights and light displays. Each year, several local non-profits are chosen as recipients of the suggested donation/entry fee. Suggested donations are $10 per carload. This festive fundraising event takes place every night in December, with carriage rides available on select evenings by reservation only.
Mercy Health Bright Lights at Allen County Fairgrounds – 2750 Harding Hwy, Lima 45804
Enjoy over 200 LED Christmas light displays, in addition to a lighted tunnel and trees throughout the Allen County Fairgrounds. It’s a 20-25 minute drive through the Christmas lights as you listen to the sounds of the Lima Symphony Orchestra performing the Nutcracker. This weekend-only event runs through December 24, 2023, and is just $10 per car. You can purchase tickets online in advance, or in person with cash only.
4-H Exchange Club Holiday Light Show at Van Wert County Fairgrounds – 1055 S. Washington St., Van Wert 45891
Support the local 4-H Club by attending the Van Wert Fairgrounds Christmas lights. The light show includes over 100 individual displays, with Santa visits throughout the month and horse-drawn carriage rides on select dates by reservation only. Please view their Facebook page for more information. Van Wert Christmas Lights are just $5 per car or $15 for a season pass. The light show runs on select nights from November 22 through December 25, 2023.
Note: Enter the fairgrounds via Gate 4 on Fox Road.
Christmas Cruise Thru – 530 South Main St., Hicksville, OH. 43526
See the Tri-State area’s largest light show in this display of more than 3 million lights. It runs every night from November 20 through December 24, 2022, with a special fireworks show on December 10th. Special weekend events may include carriage rides, crafts, and s’mores. Ice skating is also available at Santa’s workshop Thursdays through Sundays. Please visit their website for event information. There is no admission charge, but they ask for a donation to Goodwill.
Best Drive-Through Christmas Lights in Northeast Ohio
Lights on the Lake – 1800 West Erie Ave., Lorain 44052
Enjoy a lively display along the lakefront in Lorain at Lakeview Park. The 26-acre park is lit from dusk until 9 p.m. every night from November 25 through December 30. Santa makes an appearance at Sunset Terrace on select evenings. Best of all, this drive-through event is free! View the Lorain County Metroparks website for more information.
Holiday Lights Cruise Thru – Carlisle Reservation: Equestrian Center 13630 Diagonal Rd., LaGrange
Another magical display in Lorain County is the cruise-through show at Carlisle Reservation that runs from November 25 through December 30. (Closed on December 24 and 25.) This event will feature family-friendly favorites such as Santa’s Castle and the Carousel and there will be cookies, hot chocolate, and popcorn available for sale. Special evenings will include Little Green Choo Rides, Balloon Artists, and a Santa Shop.
Admission is free, but a donation of non-perishable food for the Second Harvest food bank is requested.
Magic of Lights at Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds – 19201 E. Bagley Road Northeast, Middleburg Heights 44130
This location is one of just 11 North American locations chosen by HBOMax for the Magic of Lights display. Running every night from November 22 through December 30, this is your chance to see your favorite holiday scenes recreated in the latest LED technology. View the website for pricing information. Proceeds benefit Coats for Kids and the Ohio Farm Bureau.
Bethlehem Hills Christmas Light Park – 9760 Mayfield Rd., Chesterland 44026
Over two million LED lights deliver the spirit of Christmas, at the Christmas lights in Chesterland Ohio. You’ll be dazzled with 40 animated scenes that include a Candy Cane Village, a Nativity, a Christmas Carnival, Santa’s Workshop, and more! Tickets start at $25 for up to seven people in one vehicle. You can cruise through the 1.5-mile display throughout the Berkshire Hills Golf Course. The display is open daily starting at 5:30, starting November 24.
Joy of Christmas Light Display at Firestone Park – 338 E. Park Ave., Columbiana
Enjoy this drive-through holiday display sponsored by the Columbiana Tourism Bureau on select evenings from November 17 through December 24. Concessions are available, with cocoa, popcorn, and hot dogs, as well as photos with Santa, gingerbread house displays, and story time with Mrs. Claus on Sundays and Thursdays. Admission is $20 per vehicle or $40 for a season pass.
Wachtel Christmas Lights – 13079 Township Road 503, Big Prairie
While we can’t list every neighborhood light display in Ohio, the Wachtel family tradition bears mention. The family has been wowing their friends and neighbors with an expansive light display for nearly 70 years! The lights encompass both homes on Spring Walk Farms and guests are invited to drive by any evening from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. Donations are accepted.
Best Drive-Through Christmas Lights in Central Ohio
Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights – 3311 South Old State Rd., Delaware 43015
Visit the Alum Creek State Park Campgrounds for this magical holiday display, named in honor of a prominent former resident of Delaware County. Now in its 24th year, the Fantasy of Lights is a local favorite, with dozens of LED light displays. Scenes go beyond Christmas to include the Olympics and Ohio-themes displays. You can drive through any night from November 17 until January 1, 2024. Learn more about Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights in our post.
Wonderlight’s Christmas in Ohio at the Hartford Fairground – 14028 Fairgrounds Road Croton, OH 43013
Drive nearly two miles through the Hartford Fairground and view more than one million lights. The show is synchronized to music, making it the largest fully synchronized Christmas music show in Central Ohio. The show runs every night from November 10 through December 31, and admission is $30 for a carl with up to seven passengers.
Read about our experience of Wonderlight’s Christmas in Ohio and learn why we think it is a MUST-see!
Best Drive-Through Christmas Lights in Southwest Ohio
Holiday Lights at Lost Creek Reserve – 2645 E. St. Rt. 41, Troy
See over 60 lighted and animated displays at this drive-through attraction. The drive is 1.25 miles through the woods and farmland nearby, including the Knoop Homestead. The drive-thru Christmas lights Troy Ohio decorations are done by volunteer groups in exchange for a donation from the park district, so your $10 cash-only entry fee (per car) helps support local non-profits. Open weekends from November 25 through December 23, with additional weekdays from December 18 – 21.
Park Lights at Ceasar Ford Park – 520 South Stringtown Rd., Xenia 45385
Check out several displays including Winter Wonderland, Festive Festival, and the North Pole Car Show as you drive through this free family event at Ceasar Ford Park. Open every night from 6-9 through from December 1 – 31.
The Christmas Ranch – 3205 S. Waynesville Rd., Morrow 45152
This holiday experience has been featured on shows like HGTV and Good Morning America, as well as the New York Times. For $37 per carload or $47 for an oversized vehicle, you can enjoy a drive-through light show from November 17 through December 23 before exploring other activities like several Christmas shops, Santa’s Bakery, and train rides through the property.
Christmas Nights of Lights at Coney Island – 6201 Kellogg Ave., Cincinnati 45230
This is a chance to experience Coney Island like never before! Experience over one million lights along the 2.5-mile drive, while listening to traditional and modern holiday music on the car radio. Light tunnels and dancing candy canes are just part of the fun to be had every night from November 10 through December 31, 2023. Your ticket price of $30 per carload (up to 8 passengers) will help support local causes including Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army.
Pyramid Hill Lights – 1763 Hamilton Cleves Rd. Hamilton 45013
The name has changed from Journey Borealis, but the Pyramid Hill Lights event remains one of the holiday light shows in the tri-state area. From November 17 through December 31, you can enjoy over one million lights from the comfort of your car. Entry fees are $25 per car for non-members and $15 for members.
Light Up Middletown – 500 Tytus Ave., Middletown 45042
This non-profit event supports great local causes while offering a fun evening for your family. The drive-through display is open every night from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, and admission is whatever you choose to donate (cash only.)
Christmas Glow at Land of Illusion – 8762 Thomas Rd., Middletown 45042
In its sixth year of Christmas lights, Land of Illusion is quickly becoming a local favorite. They have nearly four million lights and a 45-foot Christmas tree. Aside from the 2.1-mile drive-through light display, they also have covered fire pits, Santa’s Workshop, a petting zoo, and a Christmas Village. Tickets are just $12 per person, and they are open nearly every night from November 23 through December 30, with a few exceptions.
Holiday in Lights at Sharon Woods – 11450 Lebanon Rd., Route 42, Sharonville 45241
Paused for 2023; we’ll be anxiously awaiting news in 2024!
Over one million lights combine to make over 250 individual light displays at Sharon Woods. For over 30 years, Cincinnati families have been experiencing the joy of a drive through the lighted woods. Besides Santa, you’ll even see every animal that was on Noah’s Ark! For extra fun, you can buy special effects glasses to wear through the display.
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So, tell us, where are your favorite Ohio drive-thru Christmas lights?