Massachusetts powers up the holiday spirit with light shows

Feeling like you’re falling short on the holiday spirit?
Fear not — there are dazzling opportunities to celebrate the season, safely: drive-thru holiday light shows.
Our state is dotted with them, and most still have reservations available and run through the entire week after Christmas.
Driving around seeing holiday lights is nothing new. Remember being warm and cozy in your jammies with your parents driving you around town to see the decorated houses?
Today, while families have it significantly harder this holiday, finding amazing lights worth the drive is no longer a hunt-and-peck operation.
Spots across the state have built outdoor displays that tell stories, entertain and just wow visitors.
Jordan Hager added a light show visit to their holiday plans this year. Her three children ages 4-9 really enjoyed it, she said.
“We loved the lights,” she said.
“We usually do the same activities year after year, and had to tell the kids that all the things we usually do — we couldn’t do, and just felt sad. But this was something new and exciting. We love how places are thinking out of the box for creative ways to spread Christmas joy.”
Hager has a tip for those heading out: Bundle up. You’ll want to open the car windows and take in the music and crisp winter air as you see the lights, she said.
Here are a few places to check out. Pop on your flannel PJs, pack some popcorn and fill that thermos with cocoa. There’s a new holiday tradition to savor.
Marshfield Holiday Light Show: If you checked this show out in its debut last winter, don’t think that means you’ve seen it all. This year, the light show is double the size.
Located on the expansive Marshfield Fair Grounds (140 Main St., just a quick few minutes off Route 3) the fairgrounds are alive with the lights and music of the Marshfield Holiday Light show ( Cars loop around a one-mile route that can take about a half hour.
When you begin, you tune in your car radio and are synched to music that plays along with the light displays. You’ll see a giant dragon, beautiful poinesettias and other sights.
Preordered online tickets are a must and run $23 to $25 per car, depending on the date.
Limos, trollies and buses are not allowed. The show opens at 5 p.m. and runs to 9:30. To avoid the rush, come a little bit after opening, more toward 7. And be ready for some special treats like cocoa to go.
Bright Nights at Forest Park, Springfield: It’s the 26th season of Bright Nights ( at 300 Summer Ave. in Springfield, and it shows.
The light show offers up all the classics you’d expect: a giant holiday card in lights, lovely winter garden, a “garden of peace” and other displays. And there’s the perfect display for this spot: The Dr. Seuss area. You’ll find light displays featuring the Grinch, Horton, The Cat in the Hat and many others, there to spark memories of bedtime stories as well as salute the man who called that region home.
Bright Nights is open nightly and charges $23 per car. They do allow limos, buses and trollies but at a higher price point. Tickets should be purchased online and ahead of time, and can be used on any date they are open.
You do not, though, have to book an exact time. With the show running from 4:45 to 9:30 p.m., they suggest you err on the earlier side, so you are sure to get in before closing time (since that closing time is hard and fast).
It will remain open through Jan. 6, meaning you can extend your holiday fun past the New Year, something that might be helpful in this long winter ahead.
Zoo Lights at the Stone Zoo, Stoneham: If you had to break the sad news to your children that Zoo Lights had sold out before you took action, good news: The Zoo is extending the light show through Jan. 17. Tickets are available from Jan. 4 through that date online now.
Zoo Lights packs a whole lot of punch into the zoo’s 26 acres. From light-up animals to intricately decorated buildings, there’s so much to see.
And in this case, you’ll do it on foot. Guests meander along paths and take it all in, with safety precautions in place (six foot distancing; mask requirements).
Animals star, of course. In their lit up Yukon Creek you’ll see black bears, a bald eagle, Canada lynx, arctic foxes and even reindeer.
Tickets must be purchased online and are $13.95, or $50 for four.

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