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Taking the Kids: See the best and brightest holiday lights

By Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

In Washington, D.C., enjoy snow tubing, panda photo ops and outdoor ZooLights at the National Zoo. There will be more than 500,000 eco-friendly LED lights on exhibition from November 22 to January 1, 2020.

DOWNTOWN IN A CITY. The downtown Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival will return to Pere Marquette Park with a holiday variety show and the city's largest switch-flipping ceremony. Watch the streetscape transformed by sparkling rooflines, harp lamp lighting and suspended décor above downtown intersections.

New York goes all out for the winter holidays from the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree to the world's largest Menorah at Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza to the New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show (miniature NYC landmarks made entirely out of plants and the 1.5-ton, 300-square-foot village made entirely of edible gingerbread at the New York Hall of Science.

AT A MARKET. In Seattle, Magic in the Market, Pike Place Market's longest-running holiday tradition, returns November 30 with free activities for all. Enchant Christmas is also back at T-Mobile Park with an all-new adventure, Mischievous, a giant light maze and a Christmas market featuring 70-plus artisans.

NEAR OR ON THE WATER. Christmas in Newport, Rhode Island, began as a two-week festival that celebrated the noncommercial traditions of the holiday season. Now in its 49th year, the program features a variety of holiday activities. Note that only clear bulbs illuminate the scenic harbor and wharves, to honor original candlelight holiday festivals.

IN A SMALL TOWN. McAdenville, N.C., touts Christmas Town USA. Now in its 64th year, it offers more than 160 beautifully decorated homes, as well as 250 evergreen trees covered with more than 500,000 lights.

Grapevine, Texas, meanwhile;, has adopted the moniker of the Christmas Capital of Texas because it has millions of twinkling lights and more than 1,400 events taking place over 40 days.


AT A WINTER FESTIVAL. In Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, celebrate during the city's 30th annual Smoky Mountain Winterfest celebration. Dollywood is a must-see with more than 4 million lights on exhibit during "Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas." The park will have holiday music, rides, a nightly Parade of Lights and much more to celebrate the season.

TIME TRAVELING at a living history museum like Colonial Williamsburg where you can learn how holidays were celebrated before the American Revolution. Journey back in time to Christmas Eve 1876 at Mystic Seaport, Connecticut, where the Lantern Light Tours include a play inspired in part by "A Christmas Carol." Go on the Freedom Trail Holiday Stroll and discover how Boston's holiday traditions evolved.

IN A MUSEUM. Chicago's The Museum of Science and Industry will celebrate Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light will feature more than 50 trees decorated to represent various cultures and holiday traditions.

Have a candy cane for me!


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