Unleash your holiday spirit with a local celebration of all things merry and bright on December’s National Christmas Lights Day! String some lights, admire your work, then buckle up for a drive to admire these dazzling displays sure to make your list of beloved Cape Cod holiday traditions. There’s always room for a couple more!

Gardens Aglow at Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich
Take your holiday strolling to the next level at the Cape’s treasured Gardens Aglow holiday tradition for the ultimate outdoor celebration of lights. Bundle up in your best in snow and wander across the illuminated gardens and winter lightscape perfect for finding fun, holiday photo opps. Enjoy festive music at the Parade Field, go on a reindeer scavenger hunt, roast marshmallows at the fire pits, and even visit with the Big Guy at the Outdoor Stage (safety protocols in place)! Stop for a treat from the Magnolia Café and browse ornaments and seasonal gifts at The Holiday Pop-Up Shop before you leave. And it might just be the year to buy those light-up necklaces for the whole family!

The Giants in Sandwich
Looking for a fun and memorable family outing to celebrate the season? Let your community spirit shine as you take a time-honored drive through the Cape’s oldest town to spot the colossal, twinkling figures known as the “Giants” brought to the Cape by local artist, Michael Magyar. What started out as one lit-up Giant in 1996 to represent his Glass Studio has turned into upwards of two dozen sculptures displayed along Route 6A in Sandwich. Local businesses have carried on the tradition and expanded to the backroads and other towns down Cape, bringing the total to 60 Giants. Fill a thermos with hot chocolate, and see how many you can spot!

Lobster Pot Tree in Provincetown
This favorite holiday seaside tradition has highlighted the hardworking lobstermen of Provincetown for 16 years. Can you guess how many lobster pots it takes to stack the illuminated tree frame over two stories high? Fun fact: The “Tree” was featured in the Smithsonian Magazine’s article "Seven Places Reinventing the Christmas Tree"!  

Mashpee Rotary Lights
What is it about rotaries? It’s almost a sure thing you’ll go ‘round a few times before exiting—especially when it’s the center of the mesmerizing “Season of Illumination” holiday light display. More than 7,000 multicolored bulbs, glowing snowmen, and giant “Happy Holidays” illuminated signs spread joy to the world, greeting travelers near and far all season long as they arrive for some Christmas shopping at nearby Mashpee Commons. The crown jewel this year? A custom-made star arch to complement the patriotic tree dancing in red, white, and blue lights.

Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown
Let your holiday spirit soar at this shining light display that commemorates the first landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims in Provincetown Harbor exactly 400 years ago. This annual, most-beautiful Cape Cod tradition signifies the start of the holiday season and illuminates the five weeks the Pilgrims spent on board The Mayflower before sailing to Plymouth with a dazzling 3,100 landing lights draped from the top to the bottom of the 252-foot landmark. A beacon for everyone who needs a little light and love that is sure to delight creatures great and small!    

The Polar Express, Cape Cod Central Railroad
Climb aboard for a round-trip rail journey to the North Pole (departing from the Buzzards Bay depot) and relive a young child’s magical Christmas Eve adventures brought to life on the only officially licensed Polar Express north of New Jersey. Meet Santa and his elves, sing with the merry-making cast, and read along with the beloved children’s book— all set to the exciting sounds of the motion picture soundtrack! Children receive a souvenir golden ticket and keepsake to keep the memories alive all holiday season, and this year’s event features a special tent to visit before traveling home or individually wrapped cookies and hot chocolate. Festive jammies please!

In addition to the festive displays mentioned above, every town and village on Cape Cod puts their own distinctive spin on holiday lights. So bundle up and stroll down one or more these charming downtown hubs after dark...and see Christmas on Cape Cod in a whole new light!