Winter Festival of Lights
By Elaine Kish
The last of the brightly colored leaves have left the trees and there is a distinct chill in the air reminding us that snow will soon turn the ground white. That means it’s time for a trip to Wheeling, West Virginia to view the spectacular Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights.
Since 1985 when the tradition began, each year Oglebay turns more than 300 acres of their property into the nation’s largest light show. This year the display will be open from November 13, 2015 to January 3, 2016. Listed as one of the 10 Best Christmas Light Displays in the U.S., one of the American Bus Association’s Top International Events, and one of the top 200 events in the country by Discover America, a drive of more than six miles through the property is required to view all the scenes.
In 2008 the Winter Festival of Lights committed to change all lights in the display and to only use energy-efficient LED lights in the future. LED lights use 85% less energy than older lights. Caren Knoyer, Marketing Director for Oglebay, states, “We are proud to announce that all the displays at the Festival of Lights are now LED.” Each year new displays are added. The Rainbow Tunnel, added in 2014, is 300 feet long with 30 arches of multi-colored lights spanning the road leading down to Schenk Lake. Another favorite is the massive “Polyhedron Star” which contains 2,000 lights and sits on the highest hilltop in Oglebay. Standing close to 60 feet tall and 50 feet in diameter is the “Poinsettia Wreath and Candles” which is the tallest display.
During the Winter Festival of Lights the Hilltop Area and Gardens are filled with 150 hanging baskets of lights as well as thousands of lighted flowers and trees. Near the Visitors’ Center is the Christmas Tree Garden containing 30 live trees decorated with various colored lights. Nestled inside the Tree Garden is the Nativity Display. Designed and created by a local artist, the life-size Nativity scene has been a very popular display since it first appeared in 1985. Snoopy and the Peanuts gang joined the Festival in 2000 and they are visible throughout the driving tour. Oglebay was granted permission to use these characters through the generosity of Jean Schulz, wife of the late Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts.
The Good Zoo lights up nightly with a light and music extravaganza on the zoo patio. Using more than 35,500 LED lights, the show is choreographed to holiday music. There is also a holiday laser show at the Benedum Theater located on the zoo property.
At Wilson Lodge, the Ihlenfield Dining Room offers a nightly buffet and the GlassWorks Grill is open for lunch and dinner. All of the gift shops on the property are open for last-minute and unique items. The Christmas Shop is open only during the Winter Festival of Lights for decorations, ornaments and holiday collectibles. The Winter Festival of Lights is viewable Sunday through Thursday until 10:00 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday nights until 11:00 p.m. A per car donation is requested and is valid for the entire festival season. Trolley tours are offered several times each night beginning at Wilson Lodge. For more information about the Winter Festival of Lights or to book an overnight stay, visit www.oglebay-resort.com.
Oglebay WV Winter Festival of Lights