Winter Lights at Elizabethan Gardens is one of those Christmas traditions that is a reminder of how special the holiday season can be.
Any time of the year is a great time to visit the Gardens, a 10 acre site immediately adjacent to Fort Raleigh National Historic Site on Roanoke Island. But on a cool—or perhaps even cold—winter’s night there is magic in walking along the paths and witnessing the thousands of lights that illuminate the statues and trees.
The light show runs through the holidays until January 15 so there is plenty of time to check it out, but there is something special about the lights and Christmas.
There are, of course, Christmas lights everywhere—and some quite spectacular. But what makes the Winter Lights so special is how wonderful the experience is for the whole family.
In the middle of the Gardens there is the Great Lawn, and open space dominated by huge live oak and with a fire pit in the middle.
Next to the fire pit, a large screen plays the version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer that was narrated by Burl Ives. Best of all, though, is an endless supply of marshmallows and tongs perfect for roasting the marshmallows in the fire.
The artistry and creativity that has gone into some of the displays is remarkable. There are heron ponds that sparkle with shades of blue and sand colored lights around the edge. The statues that are so much a part of the wonder of the Garden are individually illuminated, creating a different vision of what they represent.
Winter lights is truly one of the unique holiday treats waiting visitors and residents during this time of the year.
If you are going, be sure to dress warmly. Roanoke Sound borders Elizabethan Gardens and the breeze off the water can be chilly.
Any time of the year is a wonderful time to visit the Outer Banks. The best accommodations are always available at Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associate.
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.