Where to find the tacky, the classy, and everything in between.
Whether you live in Texas, Tucson, or North Pole, Alaska, it just wouldn’t be Christmas time without twinkling lights. Bulbs blinking red and green or classic white have become a part of our American identity, a symbol of prosperity and end-of-the-year celebration as much as the birth of Jesus.
In fact, Christmas lights have a history that dates all the way back to the pagan rituals of northern Europe. The custom of the Yule Log, a bonfire of sorts, was first recorded in the 12th century, and is thought to have served representation of hope that the sun would once again shine brightly, ending the darkness of December. Throughout the years, the winter light tradition changed forms from the early Yule Log to candles on the German Christmas tree—perhaps the most flammable iteration—to the LED version of holiday cheer we have today.
But the evolution is still going strong, and we’ve come a long way from a incandescent strands weaved through the branches of a few front-yard pines. And while some communities invoke rules over what colors your bulbs can be, hoping to keep things classy, others are pushing the limits of creativity ... and the electric grid.
So whether you prefer a sophisticated crèche or a synchronized song-and-dance extravaganza or an underground drive-through experience, here the best Christmas light displays in every state.