Mississippi offers a range of fun winter holiday attractions from light shows in major cities and small towns to Victorian Christmas villages brought to life. At the city of Natchez, tour antebellum mansions decorated as they were in the past. Admire the light shows in Madison, or take a walk on the beaches of Gulfport as Christmas lights reflect off the water. After settling into your Mississippi vacation rental, check out these top places to view Christmas lights.

1. Madison

The Richardson Light Show is the place in Madison where Christmas comes to roost. On top of thousands of LED lights illuminating trees, buildings, tunnels, and wireframe characters, there are upwards of 200 holiday inflatables and an animated Christmas tree. This display isn’t just about Santa, reindeer, and presents, though; it’s about Christ, the main theme of the light show. Enjoy a lighted nativity, Christmas carols, and good family fun. Afterwards, make your way to First Baptist Church, which hosts a live nativity complete with real animals. Madison boasts other Christmas light shows such as Lake Lorman Lights with 45,000 Christmas lights and displays through which you can drive. If you arrive in Madison early enough, you can attend the city’s annual parade. If not, you can still shop in the festive Renaissance at Colony Park and Madison Market Place.

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2. Gulfport

Head down to Gulfport for a seaside holiday with the Harbor Lights Winter Festival at Jones Park. This celebration of all things Christmas isn’t just a light show, although it has brilliant LED light displays and lit trees; it’s a Christmas carnival. Both kids and adults can ride the lit Ferris wheel — transformed for the season into Santa’s Big Wheel — plus the Merry Go Round Carousel, Skyracer, Santa’s Kid’s Master Express Train, and Santa Express Tour Trail. Take your kids to visit the man in red at Santa’s Village, and then stop at an Elfie Selfie station for some family mementos of the show. Warm up with hot chocolate and other concession items. With Biloxi just 13 miles away along the Gulf coast, drive over to Christmas at Beauvoir, a historic home decked up for the holidays. In keeping with the historic Christmas theme, people can take horse-drawn carriage rides. There are crafts, activities, and a Santa visit for the kids.

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3. Canton

Canton takes stepping back in time to a whole new level with its Victorian Christmas Festival in its Historic Courthouse Square. The transformation of the town square begins with 200,000 Christmas lights adorning buildings, trees, statues, and structures. Ride the historic trolleys around the downtown area, and then step off at the square for pictures with Santa, visits with his reindeer, and roasted marshmallows. These marshmallows are handed out by Frosty the Snowman himself as he hangs out by his igloo. There’s an interactive Christmas village for the kids. Santa’s Elves are on hand to help children make crafts and reindeer food (because Santa’s deer also deserve treats on Christmas Eve). After enjoying the fun, shop at the boutiques, gift shops, and vintage stores lining the square, such as Canton Square Antiques and Special Creations and Gifts. Next, explore the Animation Museums, one of which boasts an animated Polar Express.

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4. Southaven

Southaven, which lies just south of the Tennessee border, is a major suburb of Memphis although it lies in Mississippi. While 13 miles from the downtown area, it’s far enough away from the lights and buzz of the inner city to boast bigger spaces and a quieter atmosphere. One of these areas is Central Park, which hosts the annual Southern Lights display. The half million Christmas lights and displays cover 16 acres for a leisurely drive through the illuminated grounds. Stop at Christmas Tree Farm on your way out to grab a tree for your Mississippi vacation rental, and enjoy lights synchronized to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Afterwards, catch the Holiday Classics Spectacular on Ice, an ice skating show at the Mid-South Ice House. With Memphis a 15-minute drive away and the birthplace of rock ‘n roll, there’s no excuse not to go to a Christmas concert at the Cannon Center or Azul Bar.

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5. Natchez

Natchez is a town located along the Mississippi River that boasts plenty of green space and historic homes. These antebellum mansions along with the rest of the town, especially the area around the Natchez National Historical Park, dress up in classy lights, wreaths, and bows. At the center of this masterpiece is the annual Lighting of the Tree, a behemoth in twinkling lights, garland, and bows that stands in the place of honor in the historic downtown area. Stroll the sidewalks, and do some shopping at One of a Kind. The light show continues at the historic mansions such as the Towers. Both the inside and outside are decorated in Christmas finery — literally thanks to its displays of vintage costume jewelry. Next, visit Magnolia Hall, another antebellum mansion, where you can enjoy both the lights and a Victorian luncheon. Finish your historic Christmas tour at the Longwood Plantation.

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