Three years ago, I brought my family to the Winter Festival of Lights. We usually visit the park once a year even though it’s almost an hour long drive. We descended Thanksgiving weekend, which was opening weekend and found a long line entering the park. This was actually fine with us because it allowed us more time to enjoy gazing at the lights.
To get into the full spirit, we turned the radio onto a Christmas station and rolled down the window snapping photos as we slowly drove through the show. Headlights must stay on and people must remain in their cars.
If you want to get up close to some of the lights for photo-ops, you can safely do so at the nature center parking lot. We actually saw a lot of families do this, which is a little past the halfway mark.
If you have been to Watkins Regional Park’s light festival before, you will notice some of the same displays such as a tribute to the USA, the state’s blue crab, a green dinosaur, candy cane lane, pirate ship, children playing tug of war, a series of sporting Santas and the giant, illuminated Christmas tree.
There are also some new additions that stood out including Santa’s Safari. Nestled near the nature center, the display features a toucan, giraffe, koala, hippo and a pelican. Nearby is a bird in various stages of flight, ice skating squirrels and a bear playfully trying to catch a fish. There is a crocodile trying to snap a frog, families of reindeer, a snowman drying his tooshy off with a scarf and gingerbread characters abound throughout the park.
Not all the lights are animated and not all of the displays change colors. However the forest of trees spinning in a myriad of colors is quite spectacular.
There are over 1 million sparkling lights in the drive-through exhibit. After having opened the new Wizard of Oz playground earlier this year, I was excited that they added an entire light display related to the movie. It starts with Dorothy and Toto and the Emerald City before you enter the park.
Near the playground is Dorothy’s crew, Auntie Em’s wind-blown house, a spooky faced apple tree, the witch on her bicycle, a munchkin and Glenda the Good Witch in her bubble. This was magical and it molded perfectly with the park’s newest attraction.
I also appreciate that the toy soldiers direct the cars on the right path through the show. Plan on spending up to an hour taking in the displays and don’t forget to bring your camera.
- The 29th annual Winter Festival of Lights is held every evening from 5 to 9:30 p.m. The season last from November 27, 2015 to January 1, 2016.
- The cost is $5 per car or $10 for multi-visit (season) pass, which overall is a great value. Cash is the only form of payment accepted.
- Military Appreciation Night takes place December 7th. All active duty and veterans receive free admission.
- The light show is free to everyone on Christmas Day.
- Please remember those less fortunate by bringing canned goods. All donations will be distributed to local food banks.
- Be sure to read the informative holiday safety tips brochure with your family and take adventure of the coupons for free food from Chick-fil-A at Maryland South locations.
Photos by Kathleen Molloy