Anybody can have a Christmas tree and most neighborhoods have at least one house decorated with strings of lights. But if you really want to see a show, pack the kids and visiting relatives into the car and head for one of the many parks and zoos where holiday lighting has become a high-voltage art form.
Here are Web guides to just a few of the light bulb extravaganzas around the country this holiday season. Be sure to plan ahead; many are closed on Dec. 24-25.
One of the bigger holiday illuminations is the at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, W.Va. This fanciful display lights up a six-mile route through the park complex, including an animated Snowflake Tunnel you drive through and characters from the Peanuts comic strip. Scroll down the page for the link to the animated "Good Zoo" show and descriptions of the other attractions that make this a favorite of thousands of visitors. Go back up the top of the page and click on "About Us" to learn more about this complex an hour west of Pittsburgh; that's also where you access three small videos, one of which shows the Festival of Lights.
Go early to see the baby giraffe and other animals, then wait for sunset and the 10th anniversary Holiday Lights show at New York City's which boasts more than a half-million lights and over 150 lighted animal and holiday sculptures. Look for the "sneak preview" video; it's brief but will give you an idea of what to expect. Click on "Plan Your Visit" and "About the Animals" for information about the zoo's 4,000-plus animals, a map of the complex and daily animal demonstrations.
Unlike the Bronx Zoo show, which costs $14 a head for grown-ups, admission is free for at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. Look for the "Special Events" link at the —
14 miles west of downtown Chicago, for details on their Holiday Magic light show, where they switch on more than 1 million bulbs.
On the West Coast, the 2006 is under way at Los Angeles' Griffith Park, along a mile-long stretch of the park's Crystal Springs Drive. Click on "Display Guide" to get an idea of the exhibits in the show. And in a Southern California touch, you can park your gas-burner and ride an environmentally friendly electric shuttle bus through the show.
In the Northwest, the is putting on its own ZooLights display, with almost as many lights as Brookfield. And unlike the brief video at the Bronx Zoo, the "ZooLights Preview" here goes on for two minutes, showcasing a lighted train that young children will love. To the north, in Washington state, the century-old south of Seattle also has a Zoolights festival, with live entertainment.
Take in a holiday light extravaganza with a Southern flavor in where you need to look for the link to "Southern Lights" along the right side of the page. Here, the holiday lights adorn the city's trademark squares and elegant old mansions. Click on "Itinerary" to see some of the special events within the celebration.
If you plan to be in Texas, in Austin promises 42 lighted scenes along a mile-long promenade. Unlike many of the others, this show is only for pedestrians, with a tram for people needing assistance. Click on "42 lighted scenes" for shots of some of the scenes.