Last Christmas, The Wichita Eagle performed a major holiday public service.
We compiled two separate lists of specific driving routes Wichitans could follow to see some of the city’s best, most famous Christmas light displays. We included houses decorated with computerized, dancing lights. Houses that looked like a Christmas light bomb had exploded in the front yard. Houses that offered glowing odes to famous Christmas movies. Giant displays put on by non-profits and venues that families have been visiting for years.
People loved it, and they used it.
This year, we’re expanding our lists. Not only have we beefed up and updated the east-side and west-side lists we produced last year, but we’ve added two more: one that snakes through north Wichita and one that hits several south-side spots. (Warning: Our two new lists require more driving, but the miles will be worth it.)
Our routes don’t include every fabulous light display in the city, but they include many of the most well-known, including the west side’s famous Candy Cane Lane and Lights on Texas displays and the east side’s light- and luminaria-lined streets in College Hill and Crown Heights.
Let us know whether we’ve missed anything major.
This route starts in Maize and goes all the way to Bel Aire. And even though you’ll spend some time on some dirt roads and out in the country, it’s an adventure, and there’s plenty to gawk at along the way. It could take you close to two hours to see them all, so pack a thermos of hot chocolate and turn on a Christmas-y radio station.
Stop 1: 11608 Cedar Lane, Maize: Start at this house, which sits at the end of a quiet residential street. The homeowner clearly put in days worth of work, and his large yard is positively covered with lighted snowmen, polar bears, soldiers and Christmas trees. There’s an animated helicopter piloted by Santa on the roof of the house and a moving carousel in the yard. Nearby neighbors also have been inspired by this homeowner’s Christmas dedication so the drive over is bright and colorful, too.
Stop 2: 820 James, Maize: On the way to our next stop, we spotted this home, which clearly belongs to a rabid University of Oklahoma fan. The lights are mostly red and white, and the words “Boomer Sooner” and “OU” are spelled out on either side of the roof.
Stop 3: 825 S. Longbranch, Maize: This is another house in a festively decorated neighborhood, and it is one that offers a dancing light show set to music that can be found on the radio dial. It has a lot of nice touches, one of which is a projection of Jayhawk heads floating across the front window.
Stop 4: 6726 W. Ocieo, Wichita, near K-96 and Ridge Road: You must traverse an unpaved road to get to this home, but don’t let it stop you. Joshua and Mildred Clyborne have been decorating their house for years, and each year, their animated display gets bigger. They now have 49,000 lights that dance to 15 musical sequences. Their display also includes two 27 foot mega trees, 20 little trees, a nativity scene and a sleigh and reindeer on the roof. When you’re done, drive straight and take the street that curves behind the house, which also offers a nice view.
Stop 5: 7541 N. 73rd St. West, Valley Center: As you leave Maize and head toward Valley Center, you’ll see this big display glowing in the distance. We had to drive down a few dusty country roads to get to it, but it was quite a sight, featuring a team of galloping reindeer, stars, trees, even a poor Santa Claus trying to escape up a tree while a dog tugs on his pants. You’ll have to flip a U-turn at the end of this driveway to get back out to the highway.
Stop 6: Redbud Lane and 82st St. N., Valley Center: This one also caught our eye on the way by. It’s right off of 82nd Street and includes lots of red and green lights, an adorable and tiny Santa’s workshop in the front yard
Stop 7: 230 W. Fifth Street, Valley Center: You’ll slam on your brakes when you drive by this house, but it’s on one of Valley Center’s busier streets, so do so with caution. The yard is filled with so many inflatables, you’ll wonder how the homeowner got them all filled up – and found space for all of them. Among the air-filled cast of characters is Snoopy, a Minion, a snow family, Santa in a boat, Santa about to jump in a swimming pool and Santa piloting a North Pole-bound helicopter with a rotating propeller. The whole shabang is surrounded by a fence of glowing candy canes.
Stop 8: 210 Southwind Drive, Valley Center: Another animated display decorates this house, and we caught the homeowner sneaking out of the garage to admire all the people admiring his hard work. Keep driving down the street and you’ll catch several more nicely decorated houses.
Stop 9: 5501 N. Porter, Wichita: The Honn Family, which has been putting on an animated light show since 2015, moved to a new house this year and took all their lights with them. It’s a little harder to get to, but it still has flashing Christmas trees, a big wreath, and arcs of traveling lights.
Stop 10: 5726 Perryton, Bel Aire: We drove alllllll the way to Bel Aire (about seven miles away) to see this house, but it was a nice finale to the night. It features a rooftop and a front hedge both covered with a netting of colored lights plus a father-and-son snowman duo, several lighted reindeer and other festive touches.
Refreshment stop: You’ve driven many miles. Stop for a peppermint mocha and a hot chocolate at the Starbucks at 29th and Rock
If you’re up for it: You’ve come this far. What’s another 15 miles? Although this lavish display at 10813 Tawakoni Road in Augusta doesn’t fit neatly in to any of our routes, those with stamina can head that way will be greeted by four acres covered in nearly 50,000 lights. The display includes two 30-foot trees, a flying Santa and reindeer, a sea monster, a tree and more. It’s three miles east of Andover off of 54, then another three quarters of a mile south on Tawakoni Road.
A word of wisdom: this route is for those looking for a full night of entertainment, as the houses on it are somewhat spread out. However, it is worth it, as you’ll see some pretty cool displays along the way. Your journey starts in Wichita.
Refreshment break: Start your south-side light adventure with some ice cream or coffee from Churn and Burn, 548 S. Oliver. This place, known for its Joyland memorabilia, freezes its ice cream with liquid nitrogen. It’s open until 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sundays, and until 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Stop 1: 1850 & 1844 S. Battin: Two houses next to each other have teamed up to form a lovely dancing light display that spans both homes – highlighted by a lighted arch over the driveway. The light show is set to music on 101.1 FM.
Stop 2: 4141 E. Mount Vernon: This is a quick, drive-by light stop, because you can’t exactly stop and look while driving down Mt. Vernon. Similar to the first stop, two houses have combined to decorate for the holidays with inflatables and a bunch of lights.
Stop 3: CLAUS, Inc., 1841 S. Glenn: The owners of this home have constructed what they call CLAUS Inc., an acronym for “Christ Living Among Us – Santa.” The North Pole Express Substation features lights and a sleigh display in the yard, as well as nightly appearances by Santa himself on the weekends. Just don’t come in when it’s not open – there are plenty of signs around warning of security cameras watching (talk about a twist on the idea that Santa’s always watching). To visit Santa, stop by between 6 and 9 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays until Dec. 23.
Stop 4: 814 Southerland Street: A trek down Seneca is rewarded with this train-themed holiday display, perfect for kids or anyone who loves trains. It’s not as over-the-top as some light displays, but the owners of this home have constructed a nice lighted Christmas village/train stop in their front yard.
Stop 5: Lights on Gold, 5336 S. Gold: A little further south you will find this home, complete with 13,000 Christmas lights set to music on 99.5 FM. The show runs until 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Stop 6: 5311 S. Pattie: Tucked away in the Lakestone neighborhood is this home, which can easily be seen from a distance. It’s a corner lot that features inflatables, a manger scene and basically whatever Christmas lights its owners could put out. A lot of homes in the neighborhood are also decorated for the holidays, so it’s worth a quick detour.
Stop 7: 207 E. Buckthorn, Derby: OK, so this may seem like a bit of a journey to travel out to Derby, but trust me – this house is worth it. It’s a choreographed light show unlike any you’ve likely seen before. The large tree, as well as other decorations in the yard, are not just lights that flash on and off – they’re LEDs. It makes for a super-cool show, especially when Straight No Chaser’s “Twelve Days of Christmas” plays, and the LED tree can display all 12 of the objects they’re singing about. You can find the music at 87.9 FM.
Refreshment break: Sometimes you just need some late-night fries. Or how about custard? Either way, cap off your night and fill up at the Derby Freddy’s Frozen Custard, 2100 N. Rock Road in Derby.
If you’re up for it: 1610 Tanglewood Road, Rose Hill: This is only for the most adventurous of light-seekers, but a trip out to Rose Hill will be rewarded with this Griswold-esque house. It’s just as decorated as Wichita’s perennial Lights on Texas, featuring about 20 inflatables and lights covering nearly every surface. Plus, there’s a guest book people are encouraged to sign when they come.