If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Clevelanders in the time I’ve been running this blog, it’s this: CLEVELAND LOVES CHRISTMAS.
I always tell people that Cleveland is a “summer city” because of all the great things there are to do when the weather is warm. But you know what? I think Cleveland is a Christmas city, too!
There’s always a long list of things to do in Cleveland at Christmas, from going ice skating to seeing theater productions to visiting pop-up holiday markets and bars. But by far my favorite part of the Christmas season in Cleveland revolves around the decorations – and especially the holiday lights.
There are no shortage of holiday light displays on offer each Christmas in the Cleveland area, whether they’re big commercial displays or smaller ones at peoples’ homes.
In 2020, there are even several drive-thru holiday light displays to suit all budgets that make social distancing a breeze.
Below I’ve rounded up the best holiday light displays near Cleveland, along with info on each for the 2020 season.
Where to See the Best Christmas Lights in Cleveland
Holiday lights in the city
While some of my favorite Christmas displays aren’t going up this year (Festival of Trees, I shall miss you!), there are still some great holiday light displays that you can safely enjoy outdoors around the city of Cleveland.
Here are my favorites:
1. Public Square
Where: Public Square, downtown Cleveland
The halls (er… sidewalks?) are always decked in Public Square for Christmas. And, while there’s no live tree or ice skating rink this year thanks to COVID-19, there ARE still thousands of lights to enjoy.
Take a stroll through lighted tunnels, and check out a light/animation show that involves Terminal Tower three times per hour (from 4-10 p.m.) every night of the week through early January.
You can also still see the Christmas window displays at JACK Cleveland Casino, and Tower City has its beautiful Christmas tree up inside, too.
How much: All the decorations in and around Public Square are always free to enjoy!
2. The Arcade
Where: 401 Euclid Ave, Cleveland
The historic Cleveland Arcade is one of my favorite downtown places to visit anytime of year, but especially around the holidays. The Arcade puts up twinkling garland with bows, and a sparkly Christmas tree.
This isn’t a huge lighting display like some of the others on this list, but it’s still a pretty place to stop for a photo if you’re already downtown.
How much: Free! (Though note that they do require a permit for professional photo shoots.)
3. NELA Park display
Where: 1901 Noble Rd, East Cleveland
Over in East Cleveland, the lighting display at Nela Park is always a family favorite. Located at the headquarters of GE Lighting, this year’s display will consist of more than half a million LED lights, strung along several blocks of Noble Road.
The Nela Park lights get flipped on on Dec. 4, 2020, and will be up through Jan. 4, 2021.
4. Wild Winter Lights at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Where: 3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo will once again be putting on a winter lights display in 2020. Wild Winter Lights will feature hundreds of lighting displays across holiday-themed areas including Candyland, Enchanted Forest, Conservation Trail, and Santa’s Workshop, scattered throughout the Zoo grounds.
And this display is a unique one this year: you can walk through the displays nights, or drive through in the safety of your own car on specific nights.
This is a ticketed event, and tickets will be limited in order to allow for proper social distancing. Masks will also be required for those doing the walk-through option.
How much: Walk-through tickets are $18 for Zoo members and $20 for non-members if purchased in advance. Drive-through tickets are $54 per car for Zoo members and $60 per car for non-members. It’s highly recommended that you book your timed tickets in advance. You can buy them here.
Drive-thru Christmas lights
Speaking of drive-through holiday lights shows, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo isn’t the only option. There are several professionally-designed drive-through lights shows in the Cleveland area, too, and all are likely to be extra popular during the 2020 holiday season.
Here are all the options within an hour of Cleveland:
1. Magic of Lights
Where: Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, 19201 E Bagley Rd, Middleburg Heights
This drive-through light display at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds features the latest LED technology and digital animations, and more than 1 million individual lights!
And while this is primarily a drive-thru display, there’s also a “Holiday Village” set up along the route with concessions, inflatables, and even an ice skating rink. You are permitted to stop in the village and get out of your car, but you don’t have to.
Magic of Lights runs daily from 5:30-10 p.m. from November 25, 2020 though January 2, 2021. It’s recommended to go on a weeknight if you want to avoid lines.
They also have a couple of specials, like Double Drive Wednesdays, where you can drive through the display twice in one night.
How much: Entry prices are per vehicle, and start at $23 per vehicle if you purchase tickets online in advance. At the gate, tickets are $25 per car at the gate Monday-Thursday, and $30 on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Buy tickets here.
2. Country Lights
Where: Lake Metroparks Farmpark, 8800 Euclid Chardon Rd, Kirtland
Another annual light display, the Lake Metroparks Farmpark is still offering its popular Country Lights this year. Light displays of all shapes and sizes line the route, which will take anywhere from 20 and 45 minutes to drive through.
Country Lights takes place daily from 5-9 p.m. through December 22, 2020. This is a strictly drive-thru event, so you shouldn’t expect to get out of your car at all.
How much: Advanced tickets are required, and tickets are $27.50 per car. Most weekend tickets are already sold out for 2020, but weeknight drive-thru slots are still available. Buy tickets here.
3. Bethlehem Hills Christmas Light Park
Where: Berkshire Hills Golf Course, 9760 Mayfield Road, Chesterland
The Bethlehem Hills Christmas Light drive-through follows a 1.25-mile path through 240 acres at the Berkshire Hills Golf Course. There are 40 different Christmas light displays to see, made with 2 million individual LED lights. Many of the displays are animated along to music, which you can listen to by tuning your radio to 99.9 FM.
This drive-through is open December 1, 2020 through January 4, 2021 (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) from 5-9:30 p.m. Some concessions (like kettle corn and hot cocoa) will be sold at the entrance.
How much: Tickets are $25 for cars with up to 8 passengers, and $39 for vehicles with over 8 passengers. Buy online here.
4. Holiday Lights Cruise-Thru
Where: Carlisle Equestrian Center, 13630 Diagonal Road, LaGrange
Another family-friendly drive-through lights event is happening at the Lorain County Metro Parks’ Carlisle Reservation. You’ll be able to see twinkling lights and holiday scenes throughout the 26-acre park.
This is another drive-through-only event, though there will be dancers and appearances by Santa on select days, too.
You can drive through any day of the week from now through December 27, 2020 (with the exception of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), from 5:30-9:30 p.m. Santa Nights (where kids can deliver letters to Santa) will be taking place on Dec. 3, 10, and 17. Learn more here.
How much: Free, but all visitors are asked to bring at least one non-perishable food item that will be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank.
5. Drive Thru Holiday Lights
Where: Medina County Fairgrounds, 720 W Smith Rd, Medina
This drive-through holiday light display at the Medina County Fairgrounds is one of the largest in the area, with 85+ different displays.
The even runs November 27-29, and December 4-6, 11-13, and 18-30, and is open 6-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 6-9 p.m. on weeknights.
How much: It costs $10.00 per car or $20.00 per van/small bus.
6. Lights on the Lake
Where: Lakeshore Park, 1700 East 1st Street, Ashtabula
This light display in Ashtabula County claims to be the largest holiday light display on Lake Erie. It has 70 displays across the 54 acres of Lakeshore Park, including a new display this year that is animated to music.
Lights on the Lake is in its 15th year in 2020, and runs on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings from 6-9 p.m. from November 27 through December 27, 2020. Learn more here.
To keep everyone safe this year, they’re running this as a completely touch-free event. There will be no hand-outs of candy bags or brochures like in previous years, and any admission donations will be dropped into a container with no change made.
How much: Free, though a donation of $5 per car is suggested.
Downtown displays in other cities/towns
Cleveland puts up some lovely holiday lights, for sure. But so do other small towns in northeast Ohio. Some you’ll definitely want to make the drive to visit include:
1. Strongsville Winter Wonderland
Where: Strongsville Commons, at the corner of SR 82 (Royalton Rd.) and SR 42 (Pearl Rd.)
Set up in the city’s public square each year before Thanksgiving, the Strongsville Winter Wonderland includes a decorated gazebo, clock tower, and 40-foot-tall Christmas tree.
The displays were lit this year on November 22, and are free for anyone to enjoy every night through the holiday season.
2. Downtown Chagrin Falls
Where: Triangle Park, Riverside Park, and Chagrin Falls boardwalk, Chagrin Falls
The small town of Chagrin Falls looks like something straight out of a Hallmark Christmas movie during the holiday season. Triangle Park in the middle of the town gets decked out with a live Christmas tree (a huge Norwegian spruce topping 45 feet this year), giant red bows, and thousands of feet of garland.
And nearby, the boardwalk and steps leading down to the viewing platform of the Chagrin Falls waterfall also gets festive with garland, bows, and twinkle lights.
You’ll also find decorated Christmas trees and more garland at Riverside Park, along with several beautiful lighted window displays in the shops along Main Street.
3. Medina Hometown Holidays
The Medina Public Square Historic District puts on a whole holiday celebration, with special events and extended shopping hours throughout the season. It also gets extra-cute with decorations, with the pièce de résistance being the large decorated tree inside Public Square’s gazebo.
This year, there are also several “selfie stations” set up around Historic Medina to encourage people to explore a bit beyond the square. You can find a map of all those spots here.
Private home displays
I of course can’t tell you about every single private home that is decorated for the holidays, but I can point you to a few stand-out properties in various neighborhoods in the Greater Cleveland area.
Here are just a sampling of local favorites (and I’d encourage you to tell me about more in the comments!):
1. Fairview Park Sidewalk Lights
Where: Mostly along Seabury Ave. in Fairview Park
What began at just one house in Fairview Park spread to a whole neighborhood… and then to the whole city! You can find “Sidewalk Garland Lights” throughout much of Fairview Park, along with lots of home displays.
The greatest concentration of decorated homes and sidewalk lights are along Seabury Ave., but there are lots of houses that participate now all through Fairview Park. Learn more here.
The garlands, light tunnels, and other displays are lit from Black Friday through New Year’s from 6-11 p.m.
2. Petkovsek Family Christmas Lights
Where: 10020 Applewood Drive, North Royalton
This family goes all-out with its Christmas decorations, which include lighted archways, inflatables, and lots of colorful lights. The house is lit usually right after Thanksgiving, and will stay lit through New Year’s Eve. Hours for the Petkovsek Family Christmas Lights are 5-10 p.m. every night.
3. Bob Mangan’s Winter Wonderland
Where: 34907 Cambridge Drive, North Ridgeville
With lighted archways, twinkling trees, and lots of inflatables, this North Ridgeville house gets decked out in more than 50,000 lights each year! You can visit any evening between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. The lights are on until 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays (though don’t forget that 10 p.m. COVID curfew this year).
4. DeVere Family Christmas Display
Where: 688 Lear Rd, Avon Lake
The DeVere family has put up its outdoor display of 20,000+ Christmas lights, which include lighted trees, Christmas characters, and a nativity scene. The lights cover 2 full lots, so there’s a lot to see!
5. Leininger Lights (Dubstep Christmas)
Where: 12138 Waywood Dr., Twinsburg
The fact that this home is just a few minutes away from where I live fills me with so much joy! This home is lined in colorful LED lights that are animated to Dubstep Christmas music. Yes, that’s right. Dubstep Christmas music. It’s SO much fun! The “show” loops nightly from 5-11 p.m. through January 10, 2021. Tune to 90.1 FM to listen.
6. Wadsworth Griswold House
Where: 173 Duane Lane, Wadsworth
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation fans, rejoice! You can see a local take on the Griswold house in Wadsworth. Complete with 25,000 twinkle lights on the house and even an RV parked in the driveway, there’s no wonder why this is a holiday favorite.
The Wadsworth Griswold House is revealed each year in a celebration at 7 p.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and the lights stay lit from 5-11 p.m. through January 1.
7. The Jenkins Family Light Show
Where: 364 Oak St, Wadsworth
The Jenkins Family Light Show this year features a 17-foot-tall lighted tree, along with outdoor lights that are animated to various Christmas songs. The “show” runs from 6-10 p.m. every night through January 3, 2021, and you can see the planned sequence of songs here, which include a really unique mix of Christmas classics and newer favorites. Tune to 89.1 FM to listen.
8. Crown Point Parkway Festival of Lights
Where: Crown Point Parkway, Strongsville
A favorite every year in Strongsville, this display comprises not just one but several houses along the Crown Point Parkway cul-de-sac. The houses go all-out with lights, decorations, and music, and visitors can either walk or drive by to enjoy the displays. Kids can even say hi to Santa on weekends.
Sadly, this epic display will NOT be going up in 2020, but hopefully it will be back next Christmas.
Visit their Facebook page to see photos and videos from past years.
Other notable displays
A little further away, but still worth visiting, here are some other light displays to check out:
1. Deck the Hall at Stan Hywet
Where: 714 North Portage Path, Akron
While people usually flock to Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens around the holidays for the home’s Deck the Hall event, this year the focus is really on the outdoor displays in the garden, where more than one million lights will be twinkling.
Deck the Hall visitors can still visit the manor house to see its Christmas decor, but tours through the house will move one-way, and only include the first floor.
Out in Stan Hywet’s gardens, though, there’s a lot to see. Gingerbread Land is decorated with extra lights and candy canes, you can still find poinsettias for sale in the Corbin Conservatory, and refreshments like hot gingerbread and Bavarian pretzels are still being sold in the Courtyard. You can also watch DAZZLE, a light show choreographed to music, and kids can visit Santa (through plexiglass) in Rudolph’s Corral.
Deck the Hall runs from 5-8 p.m. on Dec. 3-6, 10-23, and 26-30, 2020. Face masks are required.
How much: Tickets are $14 for members and $18 for non-members Sunday-Thursday, and $16 for members and $22 for non-members on Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets must be purchased in advance this year; get your tickets online here.
Where: Pleasant Hills United Methodist Church, 13200 East Bagley Rd, Middleburg Heights
The Pleasant Hills United Methodist Church is known for its annual double ChurchLights display. The display combines an outdoor display on the church’s lawn (available every evening from Thanksgiving to New Year’s) and an indoor ChurchLights Experience that runs every Sunday evening in December.
ChuchLights includes lights and videos programmed to music, and the indoor experience will also usually includes puppet shows, live music, visits with Santa, and more. I’m not sure if this is happening in 2020, as I’ve read conflicting reports!
How much: Free, though a donation of non-perishable food items is encouraged.
So there you have it! A huge guide to the best Christmas lights in Cleveland. I hope you can get out and enjoy many of these displays for yourself this year!
Where are YOUR favorite Christmas lights in the Cleveland area?
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Amanda was born and raised in northeast Ohio, and has always been a fangirl of the state. Now, she wants to share her love of Cleveland with the world, highlighting all the best things to do, see, and eat in the CLE. She’s been running Cleveland Traveler since January 2019.