Winter Festival of Lights at Watkins Regional Park

Bring a little twinkle to your holiday cheer at the spectacular Winter Festival of Lights at Watkins Regional Park, featuring a variety of fun and dazzling displays.

I always get a kick out of the claims of how many hundreds of thousands, or in this case, millions, of lights there are — but this holiday lights display offers you 2.5 million lights throughout the park! I sort of imagine a team of lights counters busily numbering them in my mind…

We drove with our windows down so we could more easily take photos — and as a result, we got to hear the delighted laughs and screams of the carload of kids in the minivan behind us! So much fun!

At the center of the lights display is the dazzling 54-foot LED tree that changes its colors as you drive around it. You’ll have multiple opportunities to enjoy the tree from different perspectives, as the drive takes you past it several times.

As you go through the drive, you’ll notice Maryland icons, including a blue crab and its flag. 

But you’ll also see Santa’s safari, with a variety of animals, including a giraffe, koala bear, and a peacock.  

Nearby sails a pirate ship with a sea monster threatening it, but in a cute holiday-spirit playful sort of way.

You’ll always know where to turn, because toy soldiers spiffily direct you along the way.

You’ll find the usual pleasing reindeer antics and snowmen and gingerbread people doing their usual hijinks, but you’ll also see references to fairy tales, such as the big bad wolf blowing down the three little pigs’ cottage.

Don’t miss the tribute to the Wizard of Oz, with the evil green witch threatening the Emerald City castle and the swirling purple tornado.

You’ll see crocodiles creeping up on frogs, ice-skating squirrels, and a bear trying to catch fish. 

This is one of the least expensive holiday lights displays in the Washington – Baltimore region, and also one of my favorites. 

Know before you go: Go early or don’t go at all. On Saturday and Sunday, plan to arrive before 6 p.m. to avoid long wait times. (We arrived, one Saturday night, at 7:33 p.m., and after the line of cars inched toward the entrance, 2 hours later, we were finally at the entrance. Only, the lights display closed promptly at 9:30, so we were too late. Bring cash ($10) or pay online — credit cards are not accepted in person.

Getting there: 301 Watkins Park Dr, Kettering, MD

Hours: 5  – 9:30 p.m. November 27, 2020 – January 1, 2021


Can’t get enough of the holidays? Add these to your holiday bucket list!

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