Visions of sugar plums quickly fade as the holiday passes. It’s the traditions of the holiday that stand the test of time. Nearby, in the picturesque hills of Wheeling, West Virginia, Oglebay offers one of the nation’s finest traditions – The Winter Festival of Lights. Between November 9 and January 1, the hills are alive and twinkling – in 3D, no less – with the Winter Festival of Lights, which has continued to illuminate the historic park since 1985.
Each year, thousands of visitors flock to this popular holiday attraction, but for Cheryl and Dick Jones, it’s a holiday ritual. For two decades, their family has traveled from Columbus, Ohio, to see the spectacle, and as far as Charlotte, North Carolina, to participate in their family’s longstanding holiday tradition.
“We make the trip every other year,” said Cheryl. “We rent a cabin for Christmas. The most exciting part of our stay is experiencing the lights with our grandchildren. Whether you’re a parent, a grandparent or a child, the lights are truly spectacular.”
The Winter Festival of Lights features more than one million lights in displays, on buildings and trees, according to Curt Byrum, Oglebay’s Director of Operations.
The attraction has grown into one of the nation’s largest holiday light shows, attracting more than one million visitors each year. This dazzling light show covers more than 300 acres over a six-mile drive through Oglebay Park. The light show, which features over 90 displays, is refreshed annually.
“It’s a truly magical attraction,” said Cheryl. “And we’re fortunate enough to have Oglebay Park in our own backyard. My husband was involved with the Winter Festival of Lights way back at the beginning of it all. And since then, Oglebay has continued to add new displays. Every year there’s something new to experience.”
With the new addition of 3D ‘Sleigh Bans,’ the 2018 Winter Festival of Lights promises to be even more stunning. This year, Oglebay has enhanced the show with holographic eye wear which transforms every point of light into a magical display.
“This holographic technology adds a new perspective to the show,” said Oglebay Senior Vice President Rod Haley. “Over the last couple years, with the conversion of the show to LED and RGB lights, we’re now able to enhance the show in new ways. It’s an exciting new twist.”
For a $25 donation, guests will receive a Winter Festival of Lights season pass and a family four-pack of Sleigh Bans 3D eyewear featuring four unique holographic lenses.
“A few years ago we installed the Rainbow Tunnel above Schenk Lake,” Curt said. “That was our first foray into RGB lighting, which allows the bulbs to fade seamlessly into an array of colors. It’s pretty amazing – and we’re now applying this new technology to more and more displays. This year, for example, we’ve revamped the Light & Music Extravaganza light show at Oglebay’s Good Zoo to include RGB lights choreographed to the music of the Nutcracker on the zoo’s outdoor patio. It’s going to be truly spectacular.”
To Curt and his crew of ‘elves,’ it’s a year-round labor of love. Throughout the year, his crew can be found refurbishing display frames; giving them a fresh coat of paint, changing bulbs, and preparing the equipment for the coming year.
“There’s so much more involved than just setting up displays and taking them down. Our crew takes great pride in presenting a truly amazing show year after year,” says Curt.
Throughout the six-mile drive you’ll find a variety of thematic light displays. This year, in honor of Oglebay Park’s 90th birthday, guests can expect to see a new birthday themed display designed by second-grader Lakin Chambers of Woodsdale Elementary School in Wheeling, WV. Lakin’s design concept was selected from dozens of entries submitted by local students.
“We live in Wheeling and the show gives our kids one more enticing reason to come home for the holidays. Now, when our grandkids in Columbus and Charlotte see Oglebay advertisements, they know that’s where their grandparents live,” said Cheryl.
For those seeking accommodations, Oglebay offers a variety of cabins and guest rooms in the iconic Wilson Lodge. Guests can browse eight unique retail shops, meet Santa’s reindeer at Oglebay’s Good Zoo, enjoy train and wagon rides at the new Winter Carnival attraction, and snap a picture with Santa- just to name a few. After sightseeing and shopping, guests can unwind with a variety of massage services at The West Spa.
“There’s no better place to celebrate the holidays than at Oglebay,” said Cheryl. “It’s an annual tradition my family will never forget.”
For information about the Winter Festival of Lights, visit www.oglebay.com.
Oglebay Festival of Lights