Surrounded by hundreds of thousands of lights, nights at the Elizabethan Gardens are turned into a holiday wonderland. Throughout December and for the first three weekends of January, Winter Lights fill the paths, trees and plants of the Gardens with the magic of imagination and color.
Of all the Outer Banks traditions during the holidays, this may be one of our favorites.
The beauty of the lights begins as soon as the doors of the gatehouse open into the gardens. The Rhododendron walk is filled with twinkling lights like miniature flower buds.
There are subtle changes every year, so there is always something new to see. Last year the design team started putting miniature laser lights in the trees and they add a three dimensional feel to the night sky.
Other changes can be seen as well. New this year is the heron pond. Blue lights flood the ground giving the sense of water. Green lights surround the pond and perched in the middle are white lights in the shape of herons.
As wonderful as the light show is and the new designs on display, some of the most traditional features of the evening are the favorites of young and old.
In the middle of the Great Lawn there is a fire pit with a roaring fire. Benches ring the pit and on a table beside the benches the Elizabethan Gardens crew have thoughtfully left marshmallows and tongs.
It is a perfect gathering place for families with children or an innocent moment of fun on a date.
Elizabethan Gardens has a number of events scheduled during its Winter Lights Festival. Perhaps most importantly, every Friday and Saturday, Santa makes a visit. The weekends feature music from local schools and bands.
Winter Lights is Tuesday through Saturday for the month of December and Friday and Saturday in January 21. Winter Lights will not be held, however, on Christmas Eve, which is a Saturday.