Back in my youth, the biggest event of the holiday season, an event that marked the beginning of it in fact, was when the town crews came out in force and put up all the holiday lights around my hometown's tiny Main Street, and everyone gathered for the lighting of our village Christmas tree.

Over time that, and other holiday events, have morphed and changed to today's big, grand all encompassing Christmas jubilees.  None is more popular than the advent of the drive-through Festival of Lights.  There are many to be found across Upstate New York.  This gallery points the way to a dozens of the very best.

These are fun, wholesome family adventures.  You enter the grounds of a park, fairgrounds, or in several cases and animal enclave, and wander through the acres enjoying thousands upon thousands of gaily twinkling Christmas lights.  You are warm in your own car, can bring your own coffee or snacks, and can enjoy the spectacle while listening to cheery holiday songs on you car radio.  Many of the lights illuminate whimsical holiday themes, like Santa's Workshop, or Candy Cane Lane, or Frosty's Funland.  Everyone in the car, from baby to Granma enjoys these slow paced excursions into the center of a wonderland snow globe.

We have also included some of these festivals that you can walk through also.  Enjoy the whole gallery, but pay particular attention to the festival #5 on the list.  A heartwarming family festival that has even been featured on national television.  And there is a poignant back story to the family's efforts.  And wait until you hear the number of extension cords they needed to complete their festival of lights. 1,000?  2,000?  More?  Keep going.....    Awesome.

Of course, we could not list every festival of lights this holiday season.  Sop if you have a favorite that didn't make our list, please visit our Facebook page and give it a shout out!

A Dozen Sparkling Christmas Festival of Lights in Upstate New York

Communities, big and small, all across Upstate New York hold drive-thru Festival of Lights each holiday season. Here are a dozen fun ones (and some you can walk through, too!)

Gallery Credit: Chuck D'Imperio

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Gallery Credit: Chuck D'Imperio