Clark Griswold Would Be Proud of These Memphis Christmas Lights

Posted by Holly Whitfield | December 9th 2010 5411 0

One of my favorite holiday traditions is driving around Memphis in search of incredible Christmas light displays. It’s a fail-proof way to get me into the holiday spirit. When I was in high school, my favorite house was on Walnut Bend in Cordova. The family had covered their entire yard in holiday paraphernalia. There was a manger scene that included the holy family as well as Santa, a constantly running stream of holiday cartoons projected on the garage door, and a constantly-under-video-surveillance arbor for “mistletoe moments”.

That family moved away a long time ago, taking their epic holiday display with them, but there are still plenty of great places in Memphis to check out Christmas light displays.

(For the record, it’s really hard to take good pictures of Christmas lights.)

Here are a few of my favorites:

– Bellair, off of Poplar, across from Overton Park in Midtown. The entire street looks great – the light poles are wrapped, and there are a ton of awesome blue and white lights.

– The neighborhood around White Station and Quince (between 240 and Park). Some of the displays are epic and others are more modest, but this neighborhood has a really high concentration of decorated houses.

– Chickasaw Gardens (near the Pink Palace). The houses in Chickasaw gardens are huge, meaning more surface area to decorate.

– The Walnut Grove Lake subdivision in Cordova. The houses in this neighborhood are arranged around a lake, and a lot of families decorate their boats and docks.

– There’s a house on White Station just north of Sanderlin that’s kind of amazing. All of the lights flash as though they’ve been timed to music (I wouldn’t rule out the possibility), and the yard is decorated with all sorts of holiday ephemera.

– I got a tip from reader Jonathan T. that his kids love the lights on Durbin Rd. near Mendenhall.

– The residents of Central Gardens in Midtown tend to have some of the most tasteful (yet epic) displays in town.

– These aren’t residential, but the business owners in Cooper-Young and in the Downtown Core always have great window displays.

If you’d rather leave things to the professionals than our local Clark Griswolds, check out these professional displays:

Starry Nights at Shelby Farms is Memphis’ biggest annual holiday light display, featuring 1.5 million environmentally friendly LED lights. You drive slowly through the park and check out the stunning lights. It’s $20 per car, but every Monday night, you can walk, run or bike through the park ($10 for adults, $5 for kids).

– The halls of Graceland (and the yard, and the front of the mansion) are always completely decked for the holidays.

– If you’re looking for a light display that’s more of an event, check out Zoo Lights. There are millions of lights all over the Zoo, as well as ice skating, hot drinks and winter snacks, train rides and pictures with Santa.

Where are your favorite holiday light displays? Leave them in the comments (and you get bonus points if you include a photo).

Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

Show Comments


  1. dana says:

    Harbortown looks very festive this time of year-tons of decorations-a must see!

  2. Jennifer says:

    Hey on mednenhall there is a house that the lights flash to the music when you tune in to channel 89.5 (FM)

  3. grant says:

    There is also a festival of lights and other family activities at the Brooks/Levitt Shell on Sunday.

  4. Hooper Troopers says:

    Right across the street from Chickasaw Gardens, on Central, there is an enormous house with amazing lights. You can’t miss it if you pass 🙂

  5. Krystle says:

    We saw the Starry Nights Light show last week and we loved it! I’ve driven around parts of Germantown to see if people had some lights up but there really wasn’t.

  6. MadHatterMemphis says:

    There is a guy on Jamacia Dr. in the Berclair area that does a nice job with his holiday lights.And I lived down the street from the guy on Durbin years ago.His lights are amazing and I have to go back to check them out every year.

  7. Shawna says:

    There is a cove off of Quince. Going East on Quince, take a left on Yorkshire, take first right. About five houses in cove well-decorated.

  8. Deby says:

    @Jennifer – Where on Mendenhall? That’s a pretty long street…

  9. Joe says:

    There is a cool giant homemade tree on Central between Willett and Belvedere

  10. Bret says:

    @Deby – the house Jennifer is talking about is actually the one listed in the story on White Station right by Sanderlin (unless there is another music-synchronized house on Mendenhall that I am unaware of). If you turn your car radio to 89.5, you can listen to the music and see the synched light show. Very cool effect, it must have taken months to put together!

  11. Richard says:

    That tree on central is mine. My buddies and I have been working on it for 4 years. It always broke past 30 feet, but some engineerig advances got us to 45 this year! Glad you like it. 1572 central.

  12. […] you’re unwrapping presents, driving around looking at Christmas lights, going to the movies, or spending the weekend hanging out with friends, make sure you take some […]

  13. Adrianne says:

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the epic light show out in Bartlett by the Vorwerk family.

    It’s out on Daybreak Drive at Altruria. 4-5 songs synched up with the lights, new every year. Totally worth the drive out there.

  14. ACE61502 says:

    The Cockroft’s at 3818 Planter’s View have a good one, too. Tune to 101.7.

    Then there is 3420 Venson Drive…

  15. KK Fung says:

    I posted a light show on the Daybreak Drive and Venson Drive houses in Bartlett, TN at:

    Are there other houses that have even better light shows in Memphis, TN?

  16. j says:

    Thank you for all the delightful. Commentary is that you do really appreciate it. do you know are there any lights still available through this weekend after new years day to be seen weather in Memphis or across the state line and Mississippi. Thanks. Happy New year.

    • Holly Whitfield says:

      You’re welcome, J! There may be a few places with lights still on display, and I know Graceland still has theirs up until Jan. 9. I cant’ say for sure on people’s homes, though.

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