#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


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

  1. Melodie

    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.

    • 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. Kathy

    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. :)

    • 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. Reblogged this on Absolutely Sze Li and commented:
    This is absolutely true. Ahhh…Christmas.

  4. 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!!


    • 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.

  5. TrixieRix

    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. ;)

    • 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.”

  6. Julia

    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!

  7. We love getting to see the Christmas lights each Christmas, it is a really cool thing to do. At one place in Canberra there are hundreds of cars and thousands of people coming up to Santa grotto , and mini cities…

  8. Ashley

    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.

  9. Trailer park Christmas lights – the best!

  10. Black Bear

    One Christmas we drove here~
    “It’s a small world”, in one heartwarming spectacular little villiage!

  11. Laura

    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.

    • 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.

  12. Wendy

    Here’s a wee-peak through some windows we visited as children, when they were actually at Woodward’s, in Vancouver:

    • Thanks Wendy. On a side note, I’m starting to think you’re an angel investor of YouTube!

      • wendy

        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!!!

  13. Alison

    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!

  14. Kelli

    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!

  15. Vivian

    This is a tradition at our house. We do it every year on Christmas Eve night. (:

  16. Catherine

    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.

  17. Wendy

    Three Cheers of Awesome to the journalist at National post, on The Book of Holiday Awesome=D

    By the way, this is our house~

    *I wish*

  18. Merry Christmas Neil..Hope you have a good one :)

  19. Wendy

    Bless you for lighiting up the lives in our home, with your brilliance, humour and grace, Neil Pasricha.
    And to everyone who helps make our world a better place~ Merry Christmas!

  20. carol

    lucky me.. in my country dont matter how much light are in the windows or frontyards.. even is bad taste

  21. Ed

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

    That’s awesome!

  22. Julia

    Merry Christmas!

  23. Olivia

    Merry Christmas Neil! Bought myself Book 2 and the Holiday book for Christmas :)

  24. Tanny

    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?

    • 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.

  25. I walked through Dyker Heights, Brooklyn… they take Xmas lights seriously, no doubt! :D
    you can see some pics here: http://upgemini.blogspot.com/2011/12/dyker-heights-christmas-lights.html

  26. Beatles Girl

    Been away at trade school. I cannot believe where the count down is at!Driving around to see the displays is a tradition, and I can’t wait to beam us into the home lighting competition, when I’m a full fledged electrician!!!
    Merry Christmas everyone!

  27. Emmy

    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!

  28. Kathy

    Oh my gosh, last night we went to see a lighted house that is amazing! The lights are timed to a soundtrack that’s looped on a radio station! During the break in the loop, you can use a Droid app to control the lights from your car! Holy Clark Griswold, Batman!


  29. 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.

  30. inciquay

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

  31. 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!”

    • 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?

      • jdurley

        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!!

  32. Sadiya

    Yes! This is one of my favorite things of all time!

  33. I am John, how are you everybody? This article posted at this web site is genuinely fastidious.

  34. Pingback: A Tribute To 1000 Awesome Things

  35. Pingback: 驚愕!海外のイルミネーションハウスはレベルが違う! | 先取り情報ブログ「SB探検隊」

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