One of the most anticipated parts of the holiday season is seeing the sparkling lights and festive decorations on every home. Every year, families and friends gather together to hang lights, drink hot chocolate and sing Christmas carols. Some people only hang a wreath, while others wrap lights around every tree branch and light post they can find. Shopping centers and malls are also known for their elaborate decorations during the holidays.
How much energy are all of our decorations using? While each type of lights may vary, there are two options when it comes to choosing a type of Christmas lights: incandescent and LED. Incandescent lights use 80-90% more wattage than LED lights, making LEDs the more energy-efficient choice. While LEDs may be more expensive on the front end, the energy they save pays off. Here are the facts:
Most houses use more than one string of lights, so the wattage can make a big difference. We found places that take Christmas lights to a new level and draw crowds from miles away. Imagine how much energy these places use!
Callaway Gardens – Fantasy in Lights
First on our list is Callaway Gardens in Georgia. For more than 20 years, Callaway Gardens has celebrated the holiday season with its Fantasy In Lights show. You won't find anything else quite like it. Fantasy In Lights uses 8 million holiday lights, equivalent to the lights on 26,666 standard 6-foot-tall Christmas trees! The strands of lights are more than 725 miles long. To set up the lights, it takes approximately 3,500 extension cords and more than 32 miles of cable. Weekends include an hour of Christmas carols, storytelling and cupcake decorating. This season, the Fantasy In Lights display is open Nov. 13 through Jan. 2.
Detroit Zoo – Wild Lights
The Detroit Zoo isn't just for seeing animals during the holidays. Its Wild Lights celebration includes more than 5 million LED lights covering trees, buildings and sculptures. Wild Lights includes live entertainment, ice carving and crafts. Seasonal refreshments, souvenirs from the event and holiday photos with Santa are available for purchase. The Wild Lights display lasts from Nov. 20 through Dec. 31 from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Austin, Texas – Trail of Lights
If you're looking to get some exercise with your family during the holidays, check out the Austin Trail of Lights. The Trail of Lights is a charity fun run that takes place from Dec. 8 through Dec. 22 in Austin. More than 2 million holiday lights line the trail for runners and walkers. The course also includes three lighted tunnels and more than 100 lighted trees. The Trail of Lights Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to producing the Austin Trail of Lights as a community celebration.
Hersheypark – Christmas Candylane
Hersheypark, Pennsylvania, may be known for its chocolate, but the park also celebrates the holidays in two big ways. First, the Hersheypark Christmas Candylane event includes holiday rides and more than 4 million holiday lights. Guests can watch NOEL, a light show with 200,000 lights synchronized to Christmas music. Other entertainment includes Christmas story time and a theater performance. Additionally, guests can purchase tickets for Hershey Sweet Lights, a drive-thru display with nearly 600 illuminated displays along a two-mile trail.
Louisville MEGA Cavern – Lights Under Louisville
For an underground holiday adventure, visit Lights Under Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky. It's the only place where guests can drive their car through an underground cavern and see a display of Christmas lights. The 1.2 mile journey includes more than 850 light displays and uses more than 2 million LED lights. Each car ride lasts about 30 minutes. Guests can visit Lights Under Louisville Nov. 20 through Jan. 3.
The Mission Inn – Festival of Lights
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa takes up almost an entire block in downtown Riverside, California. From Nov. 27 through Jan. 6, the hotel holds its Festival of Lights. The event includes 4 million shining lights, carriage rides, visits with Santa and the world's largest mistletoe. Sundays from Nov. 29 to Dec. 20, guests can purchase tickets to have a champagne brunch with Santa.
Brookgreen Gardens – Nights of a Thousand Candles
Brookgreen Gardens in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is named one of the Top 10 Public Gardens in the U.S. by Coastal Living Magazine. During the holiday season, Brookgreen Gardens hosts Nights of a Thousand Candles. Guests can do a walking tour and see, "more than 5,500 hand-lit candles and countless sparkling lights." The Christmas tree stands at 80 feet tall and holds 60,000 lights. There is a mobile app for Nights of a Thousand candles that provides more information about the event schedule.