Must-see holiday light displays without leaving your car or driving far

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

You want to experience the joy of the holidays, but perhaps not if it means braving cold wind, rain or snow — or worse, compromising the health and well-being of you or your loved ones.

From Troy to Cincinnati, here are some of our favorite places to go to see Christmas light displays throughout the holiday season that don’t require you to leave your car.

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam


Since 1987, the Whispering Christmas lights display has been a holiday favorite in the city of Eaton. The display features over 2 million lights, casting a jolly glow over Fort St. Clair State Park. Through the end of December, the lights display will be open every night from 6-9:30 p.m. Santa will also be on the premises, though visitors can only wave to him from a distance now, due to the pandemic. To make up for the lack of in-person visits with Santa, organizers will be posting video messages on the Fort St. Clair’s Whispering Christmas Facebook page. Santa will be waving to crowds every night from 6-8:30 p.m. through Dec. 23. Additionally, due to COVID-related restrictions, customers are required to stay inside of their cars at all times.

The cost is $5 per vehicle. Visitors can enter at the main entrance, off Camden Road, then turn left upon entering and following that path until the end of the lights display. Along the way, there will be signage to direct visitors and to encourage them to remain in their cars at all time.

When: Open every night until Dec. 31.

Hours: 6-9:30 p.m.

Location: Fort St. Clair State Park, 135 Camden Road, Eaton

Cost: $5 per car

More info: Facebook


The second season of the Holiday Lights at Lost Creek Reserve in Troy will run through Dec. 27. Located on a scenic 456-acre reserve, the mile-long drive-through tour features 80 light displays that enhance the natural beauty of the surroundings. The tour will end with a special glimpse of the historic homestead and barns decorated for the season.

The destination has over 60 light displays, many of which are animated. The 1.25-mile driving tour winds through the woods, down charming farm lanes and past the historic Knoop Homestead, aglow with lights.

When: Open on weekends (with the exception of three bonus weekdays) from now through Dec. 27

Hours: Fridays and Saturdays from 6-10 p.m., Sundays from 6-9 p.m. Bonus days are Dec. 21-23 from 6-9 p.m.

Location: Lost Creek Reserve: 2385 E. St. Rt. 41 in Troy

Cost: $10 per car and $30 for groups of 15+.

More info: (937) 335-6273 | Facebook | Website


Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Through Dec. 15, the city of Kettering is accepting submissions for participants in the tour of lights. To add your business or home into the running, take a picture of the complete holiday lights display and complete the submission form on the city of Kettering’s website at From there, your address will be placed on a map that will be available to anyone who would like to indulge in an evening drive to view holiday lights this season. Access the map on the same web site to plan your drive around Kettering to see the best displays.

After Dec. 15, a video will be made featuring all locations and will appear on the city of Kettering’s social media channels.

The Kettering is Home to the Holidays Tour of Lights is being organized this year by the city of Kettering and volunteers from the Christmas Day Open House, which is not taking place this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

When: Accepting submissions through Dec. 15, while a map of all participating locations will appear online after Dec. 15.

Location: Throughout the city of Kettering

Cost: Free

More info:

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham


With over a million sparkling lights, themed displays and Santa, Light Up Middletown has been a part of the holiday tradition for two decades. Light Up Middletown will also be changing a few key aspects of its holiday lights display in order to comply with COVID-19 guidelines. For example, there will be no visits with Santa, no balloon glow and, to reduce contact between the event’s organizers and their customers, no handouts will be distributed.

When: Through Dec. 31

Hours: 6–10 p.m.

Location: Smith Park, 500 Tytus Ave. in Middletown

Cost: Cash donations accepted.

More info: Facebook | Website


For the third year in a row, the creators of Lumenocity and BLINK Cincinnati will have an art installation in the pavilion as part of Holiday Lights on the Hill at Pyramid Hill. This popular drive-through display will offer guests a holiday light experience that brings art and nature together in the 300-acre sculpture park. This year, the theme is called Journey Borealis, and promises to provide an artful take on holiday lights. A few of the traditional features will include decorated ponds with swans, and a skating pond with a sequence of skaters that light up and doves overhead.

When: Through Jan. 3

Hours: Monday through Thursday, 6-9 p.m. Friday through Sunday, 6-10 p.m.

Location: Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park, 1763 Hamilton Cleves Road, Hamilton

Cost: Monday through Thursday, $20 per carload; Friday through Sunday $25 per carload. Admission for Pyramid Hill members presenting a current membership card is $15 every day. Hamilton residents can view for free on Tuesdays.

More info: (513) 863-8336 | Facebook | Website

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham


Celebrate the season at The Christmas Glow, a mile of 3 million lights at the Christmas Around the World drive-through experience.

When: Now through Dec. 30. Closed on Christmas Day.

Hours: 6-10 p.m. on each night.

Where: Land of Illusion, 8762 Thomas Road in Middletown

Cost: $7 per person, children 3 years and under get in for free.

More info: Facebook | Website


This drive-through lights display is built over a mile of wooded roadway and has been a Cincinnati family tradition for nearly three decades. Holiday-themed displays depict everything from Santa Claus and his elves to every animal on the ark. This year, due to the pandemic, there will be no Santaland, and instead, children will be able to send video messages to Santa at the North Pole on Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 20 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Santa will then listen to the messages and reply to each family for $30 per family. Tickets to the holiday lights display and video call with Santa must be purchased in advance by visiting

When: Through Jan. 2

Hours: 6-9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 5:30-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday

Location: 11450 Lebanon Road, Route 42, Sharonville

Cost: $15 per vehicle ($45 for buses/large passenger vans). Due to COVID, no cash will be accepted this year. Special effects glasses for $2 apiece or three for $5.

More info: Facebook | Website


This two-and-a-half-mile, drive-through light display features more than one million LED lights synchronized to festive holiday music. Features include larger-than-life trees, glowing snowflakes, dancing candy canes and tunnels of lights.

When: Open every night through Jan. 9, including holidays.

Hours: 6-10 p.m.

Location: Coney Island Park, 6201 Kellogg Ave. in Cincinnati

Cost: $7 per person and free for those 3 years of age and younger. Group rates are available.

More info: Facebook | Website

About the Author