Christmas wonder fills the air with a drive through the beautiful Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights in Wheeling, West Virginia. Adults and children alike catch the holiday spirit as they witness six miles of ninety lighted scenes on 300 acres. Here you’ll find one of the largest light shows in the nation.
In 1980, Oglebay’s Good Zoo staff decided they would decorate the Good Zoo with lights to attract more visitors in the winter months. “The Good Zoo Lights Up for You” began with dazzling lights and a holiday laser music show in the Benedum Planetarium.
Seeing the success of this project, the commission decided to expand it throughout Wheeling Park. Winter Festival of Lights began in 1985 when it had 125,00 lights placed on trees, buildings, and scenes. Five years later, the size of that show had doubled and continues to have added attractions and improvements each year.
No one tires of seeing the lights or driving in long lines of traffic to witness them. That just gives more time to enjoy the displays. Plan to spend the evening having a leisurely drive that captures the spirit of Christmas.
More than one million people enjoy this light display each year. It has become a popular drive-thru for tour buses as well as family cars. The ability to see the displays from a higher view makes tour bus visits extra special. Or you can catch the trolley at Wilson Lodge on a first-come, first-served basis unless you make reservations in advance.
There are still several original displays that are visitors’ favorites. These include the Candy Cane Wreath, the Twelve Days of Christmas, a 60′ tall Poinsettia Wreath, and the large Polyhedron Star. Some things never lose their charm.
In 2021, a 70′ high Holiday tree is their newest feature. You can find it at The Hilltop. Enjoy thousands of dancing lights that combine color, music, light, and animation into the evening sky.
Sounds of the Season have been added to fourteen scenes so you might sing along as you drive the trail. Stop and watch Santa at the Oglebay Mansion as he conducts the musical synchronized light show there.
They haven’t forgotten the reason for the season. Inside the Carriage Glass House, you’ll find a life-size nativity scene. It glows with the beauty of the season since the “Christmas Tree Garden” with 30 live decorated trees is nearby. Don’t forget to walk through the “Gardens of Light” with lighted hanging baskets and illuminated flowers along the path. It’s breathtaking!
The Winter Festival of Lights at Oglebay runs from Nov. 4, 2021, to Jan. 9, 2022. That gives you plenty of time to watch the light show after the holiday rush when you have more time to relax. It’s a great way to start the new year.
New this year is a Holiday Dinner Show “Jingle This” at the West Virginia Public Theatre in Oglebay. Enjoy a holiday meal, then listen to the music and stories of several talented performers. This happens two weeks in November and three in December from Sunday through Thursday. Check their calendar for dates and reservation information at www.oglebay.com.
The gates open at 5:30 each evening and there may already be a line at that time. They suggest a $25 donation per vehicle to maintain and improve the Festival of Lights. Every $25 donor receives a Festival of Lights Vehicle Pass valid throughout the holiday season as well as an Oglebary Rewards book. However, it is a free show…donations are appreciated but not mandatory since it is a public park.
Don’t miss the sights and sounds of Christmas at Oglebay!
Watching the Festival of Lights inspired Bob and Sue Ley to initiate a Christmas holiday tradition in downtown Cambridge. Dickens Victorian Village was created as well as their fantastic Courthouse Holiday Light Show.