Twenty Years of Twinkle
By Pamela A. Keene
After 20 years, the lights are burning brighter than ever at Magical Nights of Lights at Lake Lanier Islands Resort. Billed as “Twenty Years of Twinkle,” the sparkling six-week event features familiar favorites and some new twists. New displays, including Holiday Village as a lighted dancing house, will dazzle children and adults of all ages. The resort is bringing back its ice-skating rink after several years.
“Families have made Magical Nights of Lights a holiday tradition for years,” said Bucky Perry with the resort. “When the Williams family took over management here, they were committed to continuing and enhancing this wonderful Christmas experience and this year is the best ever.”
From November 16 through December 31, more than 600 lighted and animated displays – some several stories tall – will thrill and delight visitors in a seven-mile driving experience. Santa arrives on Saturday, November 17 to a fireworks spectacular in the Lake Lanier Islands Resort style, setting the tone for six weeks of twinkle.
From its beginning in on November 1993, with 40 lighted displays and a $1 million investment, Magical Nights of Lights has entertained families from around the world. It’s one of the South’s largest lighted displays, each year adding more dazzle and excitement.
That first night in 1993, 76 cars filled with adults and children visited the display that routed cars through the resort. The evening ended with marshmallow roasting, a tradition today that sees now sees more than 25,000 marshmallows used each season.
More than a quarter-of-a-million guests visit the event each year. And it takes staff at the resort more than nine weeks to install the displays, plus six weeks to disassemble and put everything back into storage.
Incandescent-bulb lighted displays, including the original trademark candelabra at the front of the resort, have been joined by LED displays that feature jumping frogs, toy-building elves, showy peacocks and the tallest display of all: the resorts 100-foot water tower that’s decked out in colorful lights. The iconic candelabra features 16,800 bulbs and is 48 feet tall and 41 feet wide.
In addition to ice skating – which will be open during the day when school is out through January 6 – there will be carnival rides, pony rides and a chance to visit with Santa. This year’s event continues the tradition of the live Nativity, starting on December 1. Nightly entertainment in the event tent will feature church choirs, community groups and girl scouts.
New this year, the lights over the WaterPark Causeway will be choreographed to music. The displays on the roof of Holiday Village are new as well. The resort is home to the Edmondson-Telford Angel Tree that’s two-and-a-half stories tall.
This year’s sponsors include Publix, Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s QT, Lenny’s and Rick Case Automotive. “These sponsors will be offering $10 off coupons for the event, except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day,” said Missy Burgess with the resort. “And as the Williams’ family gift to the public, we will double the discount with these coupons during November.”
Magical Nights of Lights, open from 5 to 10 p.m. nightly, is priced by the carload – $60 for cars with up to nine passengers. For larger vehicles, admission is $90 for 10- to 19-passenger vans or $250 for 20-plus passenger buses.
More info: www.lakelanierislands.com