With its history dating back to the English colonization of the New World, Delaware’s Christmas celebrations often embrace both the old and the new. This is evident through the old-fashioned candle-lit tours, Colonial Christmas decorations, and tons of holiday lights. Whether you prefer synchronized light and music displays or the soft glow of Christmas candles reminiscent of the past, Delaware has something for everyone. Book a stay at one of many incredible Delaware vacation rentals today. Here are the best places in the state to see Christmas lights.

Historic courthouse
Source: Flickr/Ron Cogswell

1. Lewes

Once the holiday season arrives, Lewes goes all in at the Cape Henlopen State Park with its Winter WonderFEST. It boasts a Lights-Spectacular show and Christmas Village. The Lights-Spectacular follows a 1.5-mile path through the park with thousands of lights and 90 displays. After staring in awe at the lights — likely with your face pressed up against your car’s window — continue the fun at the Christmas Village. Kids can hop on the carnival rides, play games, and do crafts. Some of the popular activities include making reindeer ornaments, sock snowmen, beaded candy canes, and gingerbread houses. Warm up in the heated and enclosed hospitality tent before braving the elements for ice skating, live music, and a stop at Santa’s Workshop. Next, go on the Christmas Tour of Lewes where you get to see historic downtown and homes dressed up in their Christmas garb. Pick up a few goodies at the Christmas Antiques and Bake sale, and enjoy the parade.

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2. Odessa

Odessa’s an historic town that dates back to Colonial times, celebrating this heritage with the Christmas in Odessa and Holidays in Odessa events. Christmas in Odessa takes you through historic buildings decorated in the Colonial style and illuminated by candle-like lights, a new take on the flashy holiday light shows of other towns. Start at the Wilson-Warner House where you can see wreaths being created from fresh greens and even purchase some for decorating your Delaware vacation rental. Holidays in Odessa is a tour of the historic city via candlelight, taking you back in time to Christmases of yore. Afterwards, you can relax at the historic Collins-Sharp House with treats and drinks, and if you really want to get into the history or the area, stay for a demonstration of festive food making using 18th-century recipes. There’s even a children’s tea time with crafting.

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3. Rehoboth Beach

Rehoboth Beach offers several holiday events starting with the Apple Electric Light Show. The 50,000 lights are synchronized to music so you can bee-bop to your favorite Christmas tunes while standing in awe of the beauty. Better yet, the event is used to gather Toys for Tots, so bring something fun for those in need. Next, make your way to the downtown area filled with cute shops, cobbled sidewalks, and plenty of Christmas spirit. The stores are draped in sparkly lights, wreaths, greenery, and tinsel. Be sure to stop at Christmas Spirit, an actual store that goes all in during the holidays. The window displays alone are worth seeing. Inside the store sits an old-fashioned decorated sleigh that guests can take pictures in. Instead of displaying all the wares for sale on hooks, the Christmas Spirit has them displayed on Christmas trees, each with a different theme. Handmade and commercially-made ornaments are available for purchase.

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4. Hockessin

See Christmas lights in style with a weekend getaway to Hockessin. A vintage Doodlebug train takes visitors up and down the Wilmington and Western Railroad. This 1929 train car is covered in thousands of lights on both the outside and inside, complete with Santa’s sleigh and reindeer on the top. Houses on both sides of the tracks put their best face forward, decorating their backyards in splendid colors and decorations to entertain those on board. Even the train stations put up decorations.

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5. Wilmington

Some of the most well-known Christmas light shows in Wilmington are put on by residents. Smith’s Lights on the Hill has become a city-wide event featuring interactive displays, thousands of lights, inflatable lawn ornaments, and visits from Santa. Twinkling House is another local event that features marching bands, wrapped trees, and lights set to music. After viewing the lights, head to Hagley and Winterthur museums. Holidays at Hagley takes you back in time to Eleutherian Mills, the du Pont home before it became a historic landmark. It’s decorated to illustrate French Christmas traditions from more than 200 years ago with fresh greenery and poinsettias. Both parents and kids can get into Hagley’s fun with a family caroling workshop where you make jingle bells and toy drums. Winterthur’s Yuletide Tour guides you through decorated buildings and grounds. Several performances take place there including A Christmas Carol and Carols by Candlelight by the University of Delaware Chorale. There are Dickens readings, wine tastings for adults, and Yuletide Brunch with Santa. The Wilmington Drama League puts on several plays throughout the season from Miracle on 34th Street to the classic A Christmas Carol.

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