Did you know that December 1st is National Christmas Lights Day?
My family has always been fascinated by the magical glow of Christmas light displays. There’s nothing like driving past a house that’s all lit up, bringing joy to young and old and lifting our Christmas spirit. When I was younger, I was fascinated by lights and all the seasonal decorations during the most wonderful time of year. Now that I’m older and have my own kids, I’m still just as mesmerized — if not even more so!
When I met my husband, I was thrilled to discover that he was also a kid at heart — and that he loved driving around looking at Christmas lights, too. He also loves to decorate our house for Christmas, which is my favorite holiday. Year after year, we’ve hopped in the car and set out on an adventure to find the best decorations. Sometimes, I’ve even brought my family along for the fun!
Of course, it’s even more amazing to do it with our kids.
Seeing the joy on their little faces and enjoying the magic of Christmas through their eyes gives me all the feels. Our girls, ages 7 and 9, love driving around with us in search of the most vibrant scenes, enjoying the holiday tunes playing at some of the houses, and the unexpected details like mechanical characters, a moving train, or even Santa handing out candy canes.
It’s become a family tradition for us that I hope continues for years to come. I can just picture myself driving around with my grandkids one day, pointing out the amazing futuristic displays that I’m sure will exist by then. Just the thought of this makes me smile.
History of Lights
If you haven’t decked the halls yet, it’s time to get busy! That’s because this week we’re celebrating all things Christmas lights. According to National Today, electric Christmas lights were first invented in 1880 by Thomas Edison. But it took some time before they became popular. Oftentimes, families would place candles on the Christmas tree branches, which led to house fires over the years.
Checkiday.com reports that the first electric Christmas tree was lit at The White House in 1895. Then, in 1903, General Electric began selling Christmas light kits and people started buying them and using them to decorate for the holidays, but many could not afford the lights until years later. Originally, Christians would place lights on their trees to symbolize Christ as the light of the world.
By the 1950s, public displays of Christmas lights had become a more common practice. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, located in Midtown Manhattan in New York, is one of the most famous trees in the country. It was first strung with electric lights in 1956. Now it’s lit every year during a ceremony that takes place on the Wednesday following Thanksgiving.
Ways to Celebrate
This year has not been without its challenges. Take some extra time this year to savor the season and enjoy the simple joys of Christmas lights with your family. Many families are decorating earlier than usual this year and since the sun is setting around 5:30 p.m. these days, you can turn your lights on early and then head out on your very own adventure. Whether you’re driving around town together, walking in your neighborhood, or getting together with your neighbors to plan a multi-family Christmas light display, there are so many grand opportunities to celebrate this beautiful season.
Our Favorites Through the Years
Some of our favorite displays that we’ve visited over the years aren’t up now, and that makes me kind of sad. My girls always ask to go to 8740 SW 186 Street in Cutler Bay, but this year we passed by and didn’t see any lights up. This was truly a Christmas playground for all ages. We would get out of the car, walk around and enjoy a nativity scene, animatronic animals galore, and we’d even find Santa handing out candy canes. Last year we visited at least 2 or 3 times, and I hope they’ll be back next year.
Another favorite of my family was the Clot Family Christmas displays, which unbeknownst to me started in the 1960s before I was born. Bill Clot launched this amazing endeavor and it was something he enjoyed doing with his family every year until his passing in 2007. He made many of the decorations himself and he even received much media attention. Located in Pinecrest, this was one of my favorite homes to visit when I was growing up, but it only continued until 2009.
The Christmas Castle was also incredible, but it closed a few years ago — and I’m still hopeful they’ll be back. This family put up a castle façade on their home in Kendall and the decorations were spectacular, complete with a moving train, animated figures, and holiday music. We loved it!
Over the years, we’ve found there to be less holiday cheer and not as many decorations going up. I hope new generations of families will continue to light up their homes and put up decorations. I really believe it brings the community together and it makes the little ones — and young at heart — so excited for the season. The look on a child’s face is priceless when they come across an impressive Christmas light display!
Lights, Lights and More Lights
Here are a few residences that are worth checking out. I’ve personally verified these addresses, so you can enjoy a fun-filled outing with your families. But I would love to add more! Please leave a comment below if you know of any others that should make the list.
6140 SW 46 Terrace: This home has a Santa on a sleigh with reindeer on top of the roof, lots of lights, inflatables, and decorations galore.
SW 36 Street and 75th Court (corner house): This house includes loads of lights, as well as a gigantic Christmas tree with Santa at the top. So fun!
9240 SW 16 Street: The home has an eye-catching light display, inflatables, and a big Santa inflatable arch in the front yard.
9241 SW 70 Street: The owner does all the decorating himself and he usually has a train in front of his house, a dancing Santa, as well as Christmas messages lit up on the roof.
8385 SW 94 Street: This house is nicely decorated with lots of bright lights and a Santa out in front.
Nearby, there’s usually a house with a Santa’s Workshop display and music playing for all to enjoy, but as of this past weekend, we didn’t see anything up. Just in case, it’s located at 8290 SW 92nd Street.
Matilda Street and Lime Court (Coconut Grove): This home is full of Christmas lights, snowflakes, and inflatables. Other homes in the area decorate their homes as well.
There’s also Enchanted Place, located at 1800 NE 137th Terrace in North Miami. Several neighbors join in on the fun so you can drive through and enjoy the lights — and you may even spot Santa. As one reviewer stated, “what an unexpected beautiful gift from NoMi for everyone to enjoy.”
On my list this year is Christmas Lights in the Acres. It’s a bit of a drive for me, as it’s in Plantation, but I hear it’s totally worth it. If you go, they’re asking for facial coverings to be worn and social distancing measures to be observed. Only a limited amount of people can enter at a time.
I’m sure there are other places in Miami that I may have overlooked, so please leave a comment below so we can add those to the list next time.
If you’re looking for a festive event, there are some venues that host special events this time of year. And the great thing is they all have something unique to offer. Although a few events have been canceled due to the ongoing pandemic, there are still lots of fun things to do this month.
Be sure to check out our holiday guides below for more info:
The 2020 Ultimate Guide to Miami Area Holiday Events & Activities
Miami Santa Sightings
Hanukkah Events in Miami
Holiday Concerts & Performances
Tree Lightings, Special Events & Live Nativities
Winter Camps & Activities
Now play some Christmas music, turn up the volume, and head out on your very own adventure this Christmas. Your kids will have a blast and they’ll remember these outings for years to come.
What are some of YOUR favorite places to see Christmas lights?
Merry wishes and joyful dreams,