Richmond Tacky Light Tours: The Complete Guide

richmond tacky light tours

Shortly after Thanksgiving, houses around Richmond begin lighting up with some of the most impressive displays of holiday lights just about anywhere. That’s right, it’s time for the tacky lights tours to begin. But which of the Richmond tacky light tours is right for you? Our guide will review the options, whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or you’d rather a professional do the work for you.

The tacky light tradition in Richmond has been around for an impressive 30 years. It began in 1986 as a radio station contest. For the past 27 years, though, the Richmond Times-Dispatch has been the clearinghouse for all things tacky lights. If you’ve got your eye on illuminated glory, the current requirement for consideration is a minimum of 40,000 lights. Houses can be nominated to be included on the list by homeowners themselves or by a third party.

The Times-Dispatch tacky lights page features the full official list of approved houses, some of which have been lighting up for over a decade. It also offers resources for planning your tour. There’s a map showing the locations of all houses on the list, and they even have a mobile app for Android and iOS.

Best Houses for Richmond Tacky Lights Tours

If you opt for a professional tour, you don’t need to stress about planning your route. For those who like to make their own choices, though, how can you be sure to hit the best and the brightest of the tacky lights houses? These five picks are a good place to start.

9604 and 9606 Asbury Court  

The Phifers in the West End have been decorating for at least 40 years, and the side-by-side houses make tacky lights a family affair. The Asbury Court houses are frequent award winners thanks to the spectacular display and attention to detail. You’ll want to get out and look around a bit to really take it all in.

9716 Wendhurst Avenue

The Thompsons on Wendhurst Avenue use over 170,000 lights in their display, the brightest on the tour. All the decorations used in their display are homemade, adding a truly unique touch. The Thompsons’ display has even attracted the interest of national media over the years. If you want to know more, they even have their own website.

7406 Summerleaf Court

This display of more than 40,000 lights is synchronized to music using over 2000 separate channels. You can listen in on the radio at 93.9 FM. Two “mega trees” made entirely of lights and standing 20 and 10 feet tall respectively are the highlights of the display.

236 N. New Avenue

This “rock and roll” Christmas house also features a light show set to music, in this case, seasonal favorites by ’80s bands. If you’re in the mood for a little nostalgia, this is the place for you. Tune into 107.1 FM to hear the hits.

6444 Little Sorrel Drive

The Hudgins of Mechanicsville have been creating their “Christmas Fantasyland for years. The display features a number of homemade decorations and around 70,000 lights. If you’re feeling the holiday spirit, the Hudgins also collect for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Grand illuminations for these and many other houses will be taking place throughout Thanksgiving weekend. Check out this year’s official list for details.

Professional Tacky Lights Tours in Richmond

Want someone else to take the guesswork out of your tacky lights experience? Plenty of limousine and other transportation companies around the Richmond area would be happy to oblige. Here are a few of our top picks.


James Limousine offers tours for every party size from 3 to 55. Tours run three to four hours with additional fees for extra time. New for 2016, they are also offering a two-hour “school night” tour. Check out the details on their website.


Richmond Limousine is another great choice. They can accommodate parties from 2 to 32, and standard tours run three hours. They offer a two-hour “economy” tour as well, with early and late options. See their website for more details.


Winn has been in the tacky lights game since the very first year back in the ’80s. They’re sure to deliver a great tour thanks to their long experience. Winn offers tours for groups from 8 to 55 with three and four-hour tour options. More details are available on their website.


 If you’re looking for something a little different, you can view the tacky lights by trolley. Richmond Trolley Company offers tours of the West End’s best light displays. Tours run from 7 to 10 PM every night between Thanksgiving and New Years, holidays excepted. Tours are $25 per person. Check out the details on their website.


 If you’re not the type to sit back and take in the sights, you might want to participate in this year’s CarMax Tacky Light Run. This 6K course shows off dozens of Midlothian’s best light displays. The run will take place on Saturday, December 10th. Get more details or sign up at their website.

There are many more tacky light houses and tour options available. Richmond really loves its tacky lights, after all. Be sure to check the Times-Dispatch’s main page for updates throughout the season.

What’s your favorite tacky light display? Don’t forget to like and share!

Photo: Terren in Virginia
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