11 magical holiday happenings in the Bay State

Baystateparent Magazine

The holidays may look different this year, but there are still plenty of ways to celebrate. From dazzling light displays to quaint Christmas festivities, here are 10 of magical ways to get into the holiday spirit.  

Magic of Lights - Foxboro

Daily, Nov. 13-Jan. 2

Magic of Lights

Gillette Stadium plays host to this dazzling, drive-thru holiday lights experience. Take in spectacular mile-long themed lights displays, including a Blizzard Tunnel, 12 Days of Christmas, Winter Wonderland and the Night Before Christmas, all from the safety of your vehicle. Tickets must be purchased in advance, online only. Admission $25-$50 per car, depending on date. patriot-place.com/magic-of-lights/

Bright Nights - Springfield 

Daily, Nov. 25-Jan. 3 (closed holidays) 

Bright Nights at Forest Park

Over the last 25 years, millions of visitors have taken in the “Bright Nights” at Springfield’s Forest Park. Load up the car for this annual attraction, featured on People.com’s list of “Top Ten Holiday Happenings in America.” The nearly three-mile tour features more than 650,000 glittering lights. The display is always evolving, so you’ll see familiar favorites and new additions every year. Admission $23 per car. brightnights.org 

Celebration of Lights - Lancaster & Waltham

Daily, Nov. 25-Jan. 3

Celebration of Lights

The Lancaster Celebration of Lights opens at the Bolton Fairgrounds on Wednesday, Nov. 25, and the Greater Boston Celebration of Lights opens Friday, Nov. 27 at the former Fernald School in Waltham. Both light displays will be open daily through Jan. 3. At each drive-thru experience, visitors will be treated to a mile-long dazzling display featuring over one million glittering lights. In Lancaster, a  90-foot Christmas tree and giant 85-foot wreath will also light up the night. https://lancasterlightshow.com/ https://greaterbostonlightshow.com/

Drive-Thru Winter Wonderland - Mendon

Wednesdays through Sundays, Nov. 27-Jan. 3

Winter Wonderland

Guests will stay warm and cozy in their vehicles this year at Southwick’s Zoo's annual holiday event. Drive through the zoo to admire festive light displays. Maybe you’ll spot a fallow deer as you make your way through the Frozen Forest. Perhaps you’ll see a Yeti or even the Grinch, himself. Before or after your tour, you can park the car and stroll through Santa’s Enchanted Village for a socially distanced meet and greet with Santa Claus as well as entertainment, interactive musical lights, reindeer games, a petting zoo, and more. Warm up with a hot toddy or s’mores. Timed tickets must be purchased in advance. Admission is $50 per car. southwickszoo.com/winter-wonderland/

ZooLights at the Stone Zoo - Stoneham 

Daily, Nov. 27-Jan. 3 (Closed Dec. 25) 

ZooLights

Christmas lights and animals? What more could a kid want? ZooLights dazzles visitors of all ages each holiday season. Stroll along tree-lined paths lit by thousands of twinkling lights spanning the zoo’s 26 acres. Walk through the beautifully lit Yukon Creek and see black bears, a bald eagle, Canada lynx, arctic foxes, and even reindeer. This year, visitors will also experience the magic of several beautiful large-scale lantern displays around the zoo, lighting up the night sky. Purchase tickets online. Nonmembers $13.95 or 4-pack for $50, members $12.95/$45. Kids under 2 free. zoonewengland.org/zoolights

Festival of Trees & Snow Village - Wellesley 

Wednesday through Sunday, Nov. 27-Dec. 20

Festival of Trees

Take in dozens of decorated trees and a magical Snow Village at this 12th annual holiday event put on by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society at the Gardens at Elm Bank. Marvel at trees small and tall, which all feature beautiful décor and gifts and are raffled off at the end of the event. Then, make your way to the indoor Snow Village where model trains winding through villages and vignettes, including Christmas in the City (Boston of course!), Fenway Park, and hundreds of decorated houses and lights. On your way out, enjoy enchanting outdoor garden displays and cozy up with s’more by the fire pit. Weekend admission: adult nonmember $25, members $20, kids $5. Weekday admission: adult nonmember $20, member $15, kids $5. Children 2 and under free. masshort.org 

Winterlights - Stockbridge & Canton

Tuesday through Sunday, Nov. 27-Jan. 2, plus Mondays Dec. 21 & 28

Winterlights

The gardens at two iconic Trustees homes are illuminated with tens of thousands of shimmering holiday lights and designed light installations for this immersive holiday experience. Over 500,000 lights transform the properties at Naumkeag in Stockbridge and the Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate in Canton. Enjoy food, refreshments and magical outdoor fun. Timed tickets must be purchased in advance. Member admission: adults $$15-$20, children $5; nonmembers $20-$25/$10. thetrustees.org/winterlights

Gingerbread in Wonderland - Springfield

Tuesday through Sunday, Nov. 27-Jan. 3

Gingerbread in Wonderland

See amazing gingerbread creations inspired by Lewis Carol’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” at this annual competition and exhibit at the Springfield Museums. Whimsical cookie creations made by local bakeries, schools, adults and kids are displayed alongside festively decorated holiday trees, enchanting lights, and a backdrop of beautifully painted murals. Included in museum admission: adults $25, children $13, kids under 3 free. springfieldmuseums.org

Door to Door Holiday Tour - Worcester

Daily, through December

Door to Door tour

Bring a thermos of hot cocoa and load up the car for this city-wide, self-guided tour throughout the month of December. Organized by Preservation Worcester, the Door to Door tour celebrates architecture, history and culture, evoking a holiday spirit in a way that is safe, fun, and educational. Find the tour route in an online digital booklet with participating residences and businesses, along with explanations of the inspiration behind their holiday décor. You’ll find historical and architectural information on each featured neighborhood. preservationworcester.org

Family Holiday Stroll & Parade of Trees - North Andover

Daily, Dec. 3-20

Family Holiday Stroll

This family event at the Stevens-Coolidge Place features beautiful lights, dozens of festively decorated trees nestled in a designed lightscape on the grounds. Stroll through the twinkling lights and then vote for your favorite holiday tree. Bring a canned good to leave at your favorite tree as your vote. Refreshments will be available. Pre-registration required. Member admission: adults $9, children $3; nonmembers $15/$5. thetrustees.org



Christmas by Candlelight - Sturbridge 

Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, Dec. 4-20, plus Dec. 27-30 

Christmas by Candlelight

Enjoy an evening filled with New England holiday traditions, live musical performances, storytelling, sleigh rides, festive foods, a roaring bonfire, and strolls around the decorated Village Common. Take a walk through the living history museum by the glow of candlelight. Catch the nightly tree lighting and marvel at dozens of delicately gingerbread houses. Advanced timed tickets required. Adults $28, youth $14, kids 3 and under free. osv.org