Friday, December 23, 2011
Holiday Displays Light Up Georgia's Skies
(Lake Lanier's "Magical Nights of Lights" is billed as the largest animated holiday lighting display in the world -- with a sparkling drive tour that spans seven miles.*)
Southern Journeys Blog* By Kathy Witt
Jumping reindeer, trumpeting angels, sassy gingerbread men and jolly Old St. Nick will spark holiday memories and magic at three Georgia destinations that have flipped the switch on millions of twinkling lights.
Lake Lanier's "Magical Nights of Lights"
Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake Lanier Islands Resort, is transformed nightly through Dec. 31 into an enchanted wonderland during its “Magical Nights of Lights.”
Billed as the world’s largest animated light extravaganza – a seven and a half-mile driving tour meanders past hundreds of illuminated characters.
Santa Claus, reindeer, elves, angels and other larger-than-life illuminated characters radiate with millions of twinkling lights.
Visitors can experience this spectacle of color and sound by car, truck, foot or rented golf cart. The tour concludes at Holiday Village.
Here visitors might savor a hot cup of cocoa, toast marshmallows, visit Santa’s workshop, do some shopping or take a pony ride in the crisp winter air.
Lake Lanier Islands Resort’s light festival runs from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly through Dec. 31, including holidays.
Admission is $40-$60 per car, depending on the day of visit. Several all-inclusive Magical Nights of Lights packages are available.
For more information, visit www.LakeLanierIslands.com and www.LakeLanierCVB.com
Chehaw's Festival of Lights in Albany
Two million lights will illuminate the night sky above Albany, GA, showing off custom, handmade light displays during Chehaw’s annual Festival of Lights.
An annual tradition since 1986, this year’s brilliant holiday vignettes showcase the craftsmanship of Chehaw employees who created and assembled the light displays, including a kicky interpretation of the “12 Days of Christmas.”
Lighting displays cover more than half of the park’s 750 acres.
Visitors may "ooh" and "ah" from their car or take the Wiregrass Express train ride to see the spectacle.
In total, visitors will enjoy more than 400 new displays and a re-designed layout of lights that give the festival a fresh look.
Scenes include a snowball fight, a choo choo train, gingerbread men, “The Carol of the Bells” – even an RV display.
Admission costs $15 per car for non-members and $12 per car for Chehaw members. The train ride costs $3.
For more information visit www.Chehaw.org and www.VisitAlbanyGA.com.
Thomasville's "Dickens of a Christmas"
A “Great American Main Street City,” Thomasville, GA has returned to Christmas 1890s-style, thanks to 12-foot tall nutcrackers that stand guard over the Thomasville Municipal Auditorium and 22,500 lights strung throughout its historic downtown.
In addition, visitors will discover 475 lighted spheres suspended in the trees and 54 four-foot-tall toy soldiers mounted on lampposts.
Thomasville’s 75-plus shops – an array of specialty, antiques, gift, jewelry, fine clothing, home furnishings boutiques and restaurants – are lavishly decorated.
Adding to Thomasville’s luminosity is Flowers Foods’ annual Christmas In Lights (shown at right*).
Visitors will enjoy holiday vignettes and lighting displays around the grounds of the company’s corporate office.
Two nativity scenes, a Victorian village, an animated train, Santa poised on an upstairs balcony and other seasonal charmers are outlined in thousands and thousands of lights.
Holiday music is piped throughout the drive-through display.
Flowers Foods’ free Christmas In Lights is held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. through Dec. 31. Visitors entry the display area through the company's main gates on U.S. 19 South.
For more information, visit www.DowntownThomasville.com and www.ThomasvilleGA.com
This Southern Travel Tales Blog by Kathy Witt is the writer's "personal travel blog" about the sights and sounds of fun places to visit within the South. Reader opinions are welcome; submit your comments here.
*Photography Credits: Photos used in this story are owned, copyrighted and used for editorial purposes courtesy of the following entities: Albany Convention & Visitors Bureau; Thomasville Visitor’s Center; Flowers Foods and Lake Lanier Islands Resort