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? 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, and in 2020, they are a lifesaver for families who don’t otherwise attend holiday festivities and can’t stand to stay home any longer.
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 that these light displays are still in operation because we all know how quickly things can change this year.
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 23-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 $5/carload during the week, and $10/carload on the weekends. 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 45 LED Christmas light displays, in addition to a lighted tunnel and trees throughout the Allen County Fairgrounds Christmas lights as you listen to the sounds of the Lima Symphony Orchestra performing the Nutcracker. This weekend-only event runs through January 3rd and is just $10 per car. You can purchase tickets online in advance, or in-person with cash only.
4-H Exchange Festival of Lights at Van Wert County Fairgrounds – 1055 S. Washington St., Van Wert 45891
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 100,000 lights. Running every night from November 21 through December 23, with a special evening on December 13 with fireworks, carriage rides, crafts, and s’mores. 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 10 pm every night through December 27. On select Wednesday and Sunday evenings, Santa and his elves will make an appearance, with the elves collecting letters as you drive through the park. And best of all, this drive-through event is free.
Holiday Lights Cruise Thru – 13630 Diagonal Rd., LaGrange
Another magical display in Lorain County is the cruise-through show at Carlisle Reservation. Santa and his elves will also collect letters here on December 3, 10, and 17. You can download letters to Santa and a fun coloring page on their website. 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 through January 2, this is your chance to see your favorite holiday scenes recreated in the latest LED technology. One carload is $23 if you order online in advance; prices are higher at the gate. 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, Christmas Carnival, Santa’s Workshop, and more! For just $25 per car, you can cruise through the 1.25-mile display throughout the Berkshire Hills Golf Course. You can visit from 5 pm to 10 pm through January 2, with the exception of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Joy of Christmas Light Display at Firestone Park – 338 E. Park Ave., Columbiana
Enjoy this drive-through holiday display sponsored by Columbiana Tourism Bureau on select evenings through December 26. Donations of $10/vehicle are requested to support the restoration of Firestone Park.
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
Light Up Camp at Flying Horse Farms – 5260 State Route 95, Mt. Gilead
Enjoy Flying Horse Farms Christmas lights and support a good cause at the same time! Flying Horse Farm is a non-profit medical specialty camp for children with serious illnesses. You can drive through the decorated camp buildings every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in December. Donations to the camp are encouraged, and you can also sign up for a quilt raffle.
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 21st 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 until January 3rd.
Wonderlights Christmas at the National Trail Raceway – 2650 National Rd SW, Hebron 43025
If you ever wanted to drive on a racetrack, this is your chance. Although you won’t break any speed records, you will enjoy a 2-mile drive through more than one million lights. The show is synchronized to music, making it even more fun. The show runs every night through January 3rd, and admission is $7 per person or $30 for a carload.
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 entry fee (per car) helps support local non-profits.
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 December 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 just $15 per carload, you can enjoy a drive-through light show before exploring the other activities like several Christmas shops, Santa’s Bakery, and train rides through the property.
Holiday in Lights at Sharon Woods – 11450 Lebanon Rd., Route 42, Sharonville 45241
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. The lights are up through January 2nd, with special “walk the lights” nights on December 2 and December 30.
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 through January 9th. Your $7 entry fee will help support local causes including Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army.
Journey Borealis at Pyramid Hill – 1763 Hamilton Cleves Rd. Hamilton 45013
The Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum is a treat any time of year, but Christmas is extra special. The Holiday Lights on the Hill has been a local tradition for more than 20 years, with a faithful following of locals and travelers. Open every night through January 3rd, prices are lower during the week. Hamilton residents get free entry (with ID) every Tuesday.
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 through New Year’s Eve, and admission is whatever you choose to donate (cash only.) There’s even a hot air balloon glow scheduled for December 15th!
Christmas Glow at Land of Illusion – 8762 Thomas Rd., Middletown 45042
In its fourth 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 2.5-mile drive-through light display, they also have covered fire pits, Santa’s Workshop, a petting zoo, and a Christmas Village. Tickets are just $7 per person, and they are open nearly every night through December 30, with a few exceptions.
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So, tell us, where are your favorite Ohio drive thru Christmas lights?