Lights in the Park at Cumberland Bowl Park - Merry Christmas

Holiday Lights and Festive Small Towns You Won’t Want to Miss

Looking to put a little twinkle and sparkle into your holiday season?

There are no Grinches in the Heart of Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains. Or, at least, you’ll find very little evidence of them. Small towns and communities here love to show their love of the holidays. With massive community lights displays and small towns decorated to the nines, we’re not shy about sharing our Christmas cheer. So, if you’re searching for all that’s shiny and bright, we’ve got you covered.

Enchanting Community Lights Displays

Community parks are a fantastic option for those wanting a taste of the twinkle-sparkle fun without wasting a tank of gas or fighting the crowds. We know four that are worth checking out.

  • Lights in the Park - Angels
  • Lights in the Park entrance
  • Lights in the Park - Cumberland Bowl Park

Leeman Christmas Fantasy (Pennington Gap) & Lights in the Park (Jonesville)

Leeman Christmas Fantasy and Lights in the Park are two community lights showcases of epic proportions. If you’ve ever looked for an alternative to the Bristol Motor Speedway’s Speedway in Lights, Lee County has two. And they’re both within driving distance of one another! What’s more… Neither will have you waiting in line for hours or fighting traffic. Lights in the Park in Jonesville has the benefit of being situated in the unique landscape of Cumberland Bowl Park. Its bowl-shaped depression is like a natural Bristol Motor Speedway. And, located at Leeman Field in Pennington Gap, the over 200 displays at Leeman Christmas Fantasy stretch out for acres upon acres of land. Drive through or take advantage of horse and buggy rides on select dates.

Greenbelt in Lights - Big Stone Gap
Greenbelt in Lights

Photo courtesy of Ked Meade

Greenbelt in Lights (Big Stone Gap)

Big Stone Gap’s Greenbelt in Lights is a remarkable combination of a huge community lights display with small-town Christmas. If you’re not familiar with the Greenbelt, it’s a nearly three-milelong walking and bicycle trail that surrounds the town of Big Stone Gap. Following along the Powell River, this trail meanders by several parks. And now through January 2, it’s all glittering in holiday fun! Throughout the month of December, they’ll have live music and hayrides. Additionally, a Christmas Market is open on select days at the Big Stone Gap Visitor Center. Find unique Christmas decorations, ornaments, and much more.

Christmas in Poplar Gap Park (Grundy)

Nightly through the month of December, enjoy Christmas in Poplar Gap Park! Perched atop the mountains of Southern Gap, there’s no better time to view the lights at Poplar Gap Park than right at dusk. This location is known for epic sunsets, so why not enjoy Mother Nature’s lights displays before driving through the holiday lights set up by the community? Plus, special events are scheduled on select days, including Christmas caroling, a live nativity, and a visit from Santa Claus.

Festive State Parks

Additionally, if you haven’t considered visiting a state park during the holidays, you’re really missing out. Check out these special holiday events going on right now in Virginia’s Great Southwest:

Lighting of the Tunnel

Lighting of the Tunnel at Natural Tunnel State Park

There’s really nothing in the region like the Natural Tunnel State Park’s Lighting of the Tunnel. On select dates through Dec. 22, take a magical ride on the chairlift down to the tunnel. Find a seat around the campfire, roast marshmallows, join in the Christmas caroling…

Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park Festival of Trees

Festival of Trees at Southwest Virginia Historical Museum State Park

Through Dec. 31, take in the beauty and charm of the remarkable Southwest Virginia Historical Museum in all its holiday glory. Not only will you see Christmas tree after Christmas tree, but every inch of the museum has been adorned in the spirit of the season. It’s truly an enchanting experience you won’t want to miss.

Parade of Christmas Trees at Karlan Mansion

Karlan Christmas at Wilderness Road State Park

The Karlan Mansion at Wilderness Road State Park is truly something to behold. But at Christmastime? The Karlan at Christmas is nothing short of spectacular. Tour the mansion in all its holiday glory while traditional Christmas music fills the air.

Magical Small Towns

There’s nothing like Christmas in a small town. So, come and experience the holidays with us! We’ve got all the Main Street charm that’ll make you feel like you’re in a Hallmark movie.

Clintwood LOVEworks at Christmastime


Historic downtown Tazewell alone looks like a Norman Rockwell painting. Toss in some Christmas cheer, and this small town will have you singing along with Mariah Carey this holiday season.


Technically, Norton is a city. But you’ll find it’s got all the charm of a small town in a slightly bigger package. Every year, Norton hosts an amazing storefront decorating contest. And we’re all winners.


The town of Lebanon goes all out for Christmas. However, an added bonus to all the holiday décor is that the lawn of the local middle school turns into a forest of Christmas trees each December.


It might be small, but the town of Clintwood has mighty Christmas spirit. And they know how to show it, too. In only its second year, the town hosts a contest that floods the porch of the Ralph Stanley Museum with beautifully decorated Christmas trees.

Want even more? Check out our Events Calendar to find new experiences for you and your whole family.