#85 Driving around town to see all the Christmas lights

Every city has a street.

It’s the quiet cul-de-sac where all the neighbors play it big for Christmas and decorate their homes with the great light show the world has ever seen. Word gets out through the local paper or radio station and soon everyone knows it’s just the place to go for a late night cruise down Neon Light Lane.

It’s the one place everyone enjoys traffic jams.

Sitting bumper to bumper around the quiet crescent, you push your hat above your forehead, press your mittens to the window, and stare out at the twinkling scene. Reds and greens flicker and flash on your darkened face as snow reflects classy floodlights, roofs beam with strings of white, and inflatable Santas bob and wave from the middle of lawns.

And there’s always one house that is just a bit better than the rest. It’s probably the family that got the parade route started with the big splash every year. I like thinking the neighbors leaned on their shovels with furrowed brows when they first saw lights spelling Merry Christmas being draped across the roof, but over time their Grinchlike hearts melted and they felt the Christmas spirit themselves.

Somehow over time the street grew and grew and grew until it became the sparkly beauty we see today. There’s something fun and something sweet about bundling up and just driving down the street. Hear the carols softly on the radio, feel the smiles in the car, and just take a moment to relax and remember how lucky we are.


“For anyone who relates more to Clark Griswold than Buddy the Elf, Christmastime can be a minefield — a season of pinched nerves and picked-over family wounds instead of plain old peace and goodwill toward men. If your home is starting to feel comparable to chaos theory, then perhaps it’s time to pick up Neil Pasricha’s The Book of (Holiday) Awesome to deliver some solace amongst the stress.” – The National Post

Photos from: here and here

67 thoughts on “#85 Driving around town to see all the Christmas lights

  1. This is wonderful :) I also love areas that have no purpose except for Christmas lights. Today I was in Niagara Falls, and they have a drive-through Christmas lights park…beautiful.

    1. Melodie, whoa, whoa, whoa. Niagara Falls has no purpose other than Christmas Lights? Don’t forget about the wax museums, casinos, and GIANT WATERFALLS. Haha.

  2. Summer Street AKA Candy Cane Lane in South Williamsport, PA. You can see the lights for miles around. It’s just not xmas ’til you drive this fabulous street to see the xmas lights. :)

    1. Kathy, that sounds fantastic. I like that they named it, too! Every city should do that with their Christmas light street. I personally would nominate Lighbulb Alley. Or maybe Green Glowing Paradise.

  3. We have a little cul-de-sac in our town that was renamed “Christmas Avenue” because they go to so much effort with their lights. It’s beautiful stuff!

    Speaking of which… *le gasp!* I haven’t gone light-looking this year!!


    1. I like picturing the batmobile, with it’s screamingly loud and obnoxious engine, idling between wood-panelled station wagons circling a quiet cul-de-sac.

      I bet if you spent an entire week setting up your Christmas lights it would be all worth it to see Batman driving around checking them out.

  4. This is one of my favorite memories as a child. We have a big light Christmas celebration in our city park where you can drive through. It’s awesome but there were some years were we just couldn’t afford it so this was all we had. There’s this super rich neighborhood that still puts on this amazing show every year for people to drive through free of charge. Christmas just makes me feel all fuzzy inside. ;)

    1. Free of charge! Wait, you mean some streets charge people to see their Christmas lights? “Here, step right up, step right up, check out the inflatable reindeer, see the waving Santa, yours for only $9.99.”

  5. In America, this is way better than England. I visited California last Christmas and it was AWESOME. Just a question Neil, but how do you decide the Top Posts? It seems to change all the time and I was just wondering what makes one more top than the others because I think they’re all AWESOME!

    1. Julia, I drink a bubbly elixer, shake a magic eight-ball, and spin around five times, and then the awesome thing of the day is revealed.

  6. YES!! My hubby and I doing this tomorrow night!!! We’ve done it for the last 2 years in our adopted hometown of Little Rock.

  7. Downgrading from a city back to my smallish-hometown a couple years ago, I’ve found that driving around is (still) something that counts as an actual activity around here. The rest of the year, that’s fine, but at Christmas time, it’s super-awesome!

    A good friend and I usually drive through and get some coffee and then weave all through town, hitting up our favorite Christmasy homes to kick off the drive, then going into uncharted territory to hopefully discover some hidden gems. We usually do. I love when we go through neighborhoods that, during the day, are nothing too special … but at night, they’re transformed into glowing beauties! :D

    He and I have even gotten down to the nitty-gritty of what we really love in a Christmas-lit home and what we’d skip if we were the ones decorating. Overall, though, if someone decorated, they get an A.

    1. Laura, Laura, Laura, that sounds amazing, but so many questions come to mind! First off, what in the nitty-gritty gives it an A+? This is important for aspiring Christmas light decorators everywhere. Secondly, what techniques do you have for finding these hidden gems? And thirdly, does he know you like him?

      I’m kidding, I’m kidding.

      I love that you make it a big trip, though! There’s not much that compares to getting out there to see them all.

      1. Of Neil Pasricha’s time ticking countdown of 1000 Awesome Things, definitely a whole hearted investor:)
        Thank you for your dedication to positive change, gratitude, laughter and world peace.
        Seriously, you should be Mr.Toronto, or Mr. Universe!!!

  8. I used to pile the kids in the car, and take along a stack of pre-stamped postcards which we had decorated with Christmas stickers. We would then write a note of thanks to the families at the addresses whose houses we found most awesome and swing by the post office to drop them off on our way home. We got to enjoy the beauty of all their hard work, and the families received a thank you post card in the mail from us! Two *awesomes* in one!

  9. Every year growing up my grandparents would load all nine of their grandchildren into their van and drive us around town to look at Christmas lights. As we have all grown older, and my grandmother is no longer with us, it is still a memory we cherish and talk about every Christmas Eve when we are together. It is definitely an AWESOME memory!

  10. The Boulevard in Ivanhoe, Melbourne (Australia). :) Unfortunately it’s not funded anymore so I’ve heard it’s not quite as spectacular but I’m sure they’re still magical.

      1. Shares?! Gee, I do tend to learn a lot a little too late!
        Actually, investing in each day, each step and breath; word and deed best I can. I hope St.Peter’s paying attention!

  11. Ordered your book as a present for Christmas over a month ago – received just in time on Christmas Eve!

    That’s awesome!

  12. HI Neil,
    I watched you in TED. It’s very inspiring.
    But I want to ask you a question. I already choose to have a good attitude, and like you said things are not going like the way we want it to be, am I supposed to give up on my dream and choose the accept the other way that we never plan?

    1. Hey Tanny, thanks for trusting me with your question. It’s so hard to respond without really knowing you or your situation — and without the expertise. Life is full of ups and down. I hope you get through yours and wish you a life full of attitude, awareness, and authenticity.

  13. I DIDN’T GO AND SEE ANY CHRISTMAS LIGHTS THIS YEAR D: I’m ashamed… But yes when we’re up in Perth WA to see cousins for Christmas we normally drive around and there are whole SUBURBS that have the whole chrissie lights thing going. I cannot fathom the ones that go all out, I just like the one/two-strand lights display on roofs :P But the huge displays still look very cool!

  14. That is a great tradition, isn’t it? Well shared!
    By the way, you’re quite enamored with the art of self-promotion, aren’t you? Congratulations on all the success so far; I’m sure I’ll have another chance to tell you again – soon.

    1. I am? Hmm. I dunno. Oh, by the way, my books cure baldness, dandruff, and back pain. Just take one big bite and drinks lots of water!

  15. I bought “awesome” books for all my friends this Christmas and they’ve already been texting me with their favourites!

  16. I’ve always loved seeing the lights, especially the popular street a couple of miles away where people wait in traffic for hours to see some really amazing displays. …but this year, whenever I see an extensively decorated house, for some reason all I want to say is “good grief!”

    1. That’s totally fair, J.M. I hear ya. Also, I love quoting Lucy Van Pelt in general. You do think I’m beautiful, don’t you Charlie Brown?

      1. Oh my gosh. This year my 2 brothers were visiting for a week, and we made it an unofficial game to try to slip quotations from Charlie Brown Christmas into our casual conversations. My favourite was when my perennial shorts-wearing brother was asked if he had Pantaphobia. THAT’S IT!!

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