Winter Lights in and around Maryland

Heather Jauquet

( Photo by Emmanuel on Unsplash)

Around Maryland there are several drive through and walk through winter lights display that are open througout December. For any of the walk through events listed, masks and social distancing protocols will be observed. During the week is the best time to go to avoid the crowds, and for many of the events, advance tickets purchased online are necessary. The volunteers and staff are dedicated to making your time through the lights a magical time for you and your family. Thousands of bulbs are used to create the festive animated and stationary displays. Take pictures and enjoy the view!

Gaithersburg Winter Lights Festival

Location: Seneca Creek State Park, 11950 Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20879

Date and Times: November 27, 2020-December 31, 2020

Monday-Thursday 6pm-9pm

Friday and Saturday 6pm-10pm

Sunday 6pm-10pm

Tickets: You must purchase tickets online in advance. $12 Cars, SUVs, mini-vans, & limos (Monday - Thursday); $17 Cars, SUVs, mini-vans, & limos (Friday-Sunday); $25 15-30 passenger vehicles and buses (Monday-Sunday)

The Gaithersburg Winter Lights Festival is a 3.5 mile scenic drive through Seneca Creek State Park. Enjoy the drive while listening to holiday music on 97.1 WASH FM.

Tip: Bring your own snacks and drinks as you slowly drive through the park. Can you find the new displays this year? Best times to go is during the week.

The 43rd Annual Festival of Lights

Location: The Washington D.C. Temple (also referred to as the Mormon Temple), 9900 Stonebrook Drive, Kensington, MD 30895

Times: December 11 through December 28, 2020 Every night 6pm-9pm

FREE Event (NO tickets needed)

The 43rd Annual Festival of Lights is a free drive through event to view 400,000 lights and two outdoor life-size nativities. Take pictures from the comfort of your car. Enjoy the drive as you listen to Christmas music on 101.7 FM.

Tips: Weeknights are the best times to enjoy this event. The venue becomes crowded on the weekends and the days closest to Christmas. Volunteers and signs will help direct your route.

Sailing Through the Winter Solstice

Location: Carroll Creek Promenade, Downtown Frederick

Dates and Times: November 21, 2020 through February 6, 2021; 10am-10pm

FREE Event

Sailing Through the Winter Solstice is a walk through event. Everyone is asked to wear masks and stay 6 feet apart. Enjoy 25 boats decorated with festive lights as you walk along the promenade.

Zoo Lights at the Maryland Zoo

Location: Maryland Zoo located in Druid hill Park (Less than 10 minutes from Baltimore's Downton Inner Harbor

Dates and Times: Drive Through: Wednesday & Thursday 5pm to 7pm; Friday & Sunday 5pm to 8pm (Not open Thanksgiving or Christmas); Walk Through: Saturdays with opportunities for snacks, hot chocolate, and free carousel rides weather permitting 4:30-7pm

Free parking on Saturdays.

Tickets: Purchase advanced tickets $45/carload or $20/attendee for the walk-through. Children under two are free. Zoo members can save $5.

Everyone age 2+ is expected to wear masks when interacting with staff or when walking through the venue and practice social distancing. The lights are shaped like wildlife and tickets prices support the zoo's animal care and conservation work.

Merriweather Symphony of Lights

Location: Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD 20144

Dates and Times: November 25, 2020 through January 2, 2020; Monday through Friday 6pm to 10pm; Saturday & Sunday 5pm to 10pm

Tickets: Drive Through is $20 per vehicle

Walk-Through: December 31, 2020: Midnight on the Hour (Fireworks at 6pm, 7pm, 8pm, and 9pm); tickets are $15/person or $50/family 4 pack. Ages 3 and under are free

Tips: Listen to holiday music on 105.5 FM as you drive among the exhibition of lights of more than 300,000 bulbs used in stationary and animated displays. If you do the walking tour for the Midnight on the Hour, bring your own chair to set up along the walking course to watch the fireworks.

Lights on the Bay

Location: Sandy Point State Park, 1100 E. College Parkway, Annapolis

Times: November 20, 2020 through January 2, 2021

Tickets: $20/car; $5 for 3D glasses; $50 for buses

There are 60 displays of festive lights along the 2 mile scenic route along the shore on the Chesapeake Bay. The lights are sponsored by the SPCA of Anne Arundel County.

Tips: Go Monday through Thursday for less traffic. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday tend to be the busiest days.

North Pole Lights Walk

Location: Willow Oak Flower & Herb Farm, 8109 Telegraph Road in Severn

Dates and Time: December 16, 2020 through December 30, 2020; 4:30pm to 8pm

Tickets: Purchase tickets in advance. $7/person

Tips: As this is a walk-through, masks are required and social distancing will be observed. This is a family friendly event where you walk through the gardens. You will see Arctic and Forest animals as you make your way to the North Pole. Can you find the new scenes that they added this year? Come before Christmas for an outdoor visit with Santa.

Winterfest of Lights, Ocean City

Location: Northside Park in Ocean City, Maryland

Dates and Times: November 19, 2020 to January 2, 2021; Wednesay through Sunday Nights 5:30pm to 9:30pm. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Tickets: Purchase Advance Tickets online $5 for guests 12 years old and older; FREE for children 11 years old and younger

Tips: Bring your family for this walk through family event to see thousands of sparkling lights and the 50 foot Christmas tree on display. On Wednesdays bring your pets! Please remember to bring your pet on a leash and to clean up any pet waste. Mobility devices are available for rent. Bring the whole family!

Zoo Lights Express

Location: Washington, D.C.

Dates and Times: Every Friday and Saturday November 27, 2020 through December 19, 2020; 6pm to 8pm

FREE Event

The Zoo Lights Express is a truck decorated with light displays and featuring a dancing "Panda Claws." The truck will be visiting a specific Washington, D.C. ward each evening. It will not be able to stop, but will follow a continuous loop between 6pm and 8pm. Check the website for live tracking. The event will be held rain or shine.


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Certified educator K-12 and Reading Specialist with a focus on the adolescent brain. I write about how educational decisions affect parents, students, and staff. As an educator and parent I also focus on community events for the whole family.


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