Festival of Lights
November 11, 2016 – January 8, 2017
Since 1985 the Winter Festival of Lights has been delighting visitors of all ages! This annual holiday light show is one of the nation's largest, covering more than 300 acres over a six-mile drive throughout the resort.
The Winter Festival of Lights was listed as one of the 10 Best Christmas Light Displays in the US according to AOL Travel. The show is also listed on the American Bus Association's Top International Events, was named as a top 100 event by Eventcrazy.com and was recently listed as one of the top 200 events in the country by Discover America. The Festival of Lights was also featured on the Travel Channel's Extreme Christmas Celebrations and was named one of the top 10 best holiday light and tree shows by HotelsCombined.com, a leading hotel search engine.
Festival of Lights Gone Green!
In 2008 the Winter Festival of Lights entered a new "green" era with the commitment to use energy-efficient LED lights in all new displays and to begin converting all existing displays to LED. “We are proud to announce that all the displays at the Festival of Lights are now LED!” said Caren Knoyer, Marketing Director for Oglebay. LED lights use 85% less energy than traditional bulbs and last five times longer. “We want to ensure that the Winter Festival of Lights will be glowing for many more years!” Knoyer added.
World-renown landscape lighting expert Dick Bosch, a Netherlands resident, and the late Robert J. Otten, Wheeling Park Commission’s long-time creative director, were the creative talents behind Oglebay’s show. Bosch’s lighting expertise was needed to produce just the right lighting for trees and buildings. This is made more difficult in winter when the hardwoods are bare. "Winter calls for special rules in lighting," said Bosch. "There is a play of light, shadow and silhouetting effects that must appear natural, and is more difficult to achieve in winter." Bob Otten designed the first five displays for the 1985 opening and until his death in 2005 created nearly 50 additional displays.
Something New Every Year!
Eighty larger-than-life light displays are now part of this glowing show and every year new displays are added. Favorites from previous years include the Rainbow Tunnel, which was added in 2014. "Our newest tunnel is 300 feet long with 30 arches of multi-colored lights spanning the road leading down to Schenk Lake. It was a big hit last year!" said Knoyer. Other favorites include the massive "Polyhedron Star" which is emblazoned with over 2,000 lights and stands on the highest hilltop in Oglebay, and the "Poinsettia Wreath and Candles." Standing close to sixty feet tall and spanning fifty feet in diameter, the "Poinsettia Wreath and Candle," display is the festival's tallest. Other display favorites include the "Ferris Wheel", "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and the extravagant "Cinderella Display."
Gardens Of Light
The hilltop and gardens area at Oglebay becomes a 4-season spectacle with 150 hanging baskets of light plus thousands of lighted flowers and trees! The Gardens of Light tour begins with Carriage House Glass, featuring a large selection of decorative glass and other collectibles. Carriage House Glass is also home to the sparkling Oglebay Institute Glass Museum featuring an extensive collection of West Virginia glass and glassblowing demonstrations. The Gardens of Light continues next door to the Visitors' Center and just outside the Visitors' Center lies the magical Christmas Tree Garden. Introduced in 2003, the Christmas Tree Garden consists of 30 live trees decorated with various colored lights. Nestled amid the Christmas Tree Garden is the Nativity Display. The life-size Nativity was designed and created by a local artist, and has been a much-loved display at the Winter Festival of Lights since 1985.
The red brick walking path leads from the Christmas Tree Garden to the Greenhouse, Palm Room and Garden Center Gift Shop, where visitors can find live holiday flowers, garden gifts and silk floral arrangements. The final stop on the Gardens of Light tour is the historic Mansion Museum. The 150 hanging baskets of light adorn the lampposts of the parking area from Carriage House Glass to the Mansion Museum, and also along the brick walking path from the Visitors' Center to the Mansion Museum. The exterior of the historic buildings in the Gardens of Light area are bathed in light, and the interior of the shops and the Mansion Museum are festively decorated.
In 2004, new displays included two special designs by area fourth grade students - "Christmas Kittens" and "Playful Pup". These displays were the winners of a Festival of Lights New Idea Contest, in which school children were asked to submit ideas for new structures. During the first year over 90 entries were submitted! The " Lighthouse " display, introduced to the show in 2006, and "Christmas Tree Farm" added in 2013, were both designed by area school students.
In 2000, the Peanuts comic strip characters were introduced to the Winter Festival of Lights and the well-known gang can be seen in several different displays. Oglebay was granted permission to illuminate these beloved characters through the generosity of Jean Schulz, wife of the late Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts. They have remained a part of the show ever since.
The Good Zoo Lights up for You!
The Good Zoo lights up for you with a light and music extravaganza. Designed by noted lighting animation engineer Carson Williams, this dazzling show takes place nightly on the zoo patio with more than 35,500 LED lights choreographed to exciting holiday music. "The show is being refreshed this year with all-new music and choreography.,” added Knoyer. The zoo is also featuring its annual model train display at the state's largest O-Gauge Model Train Exhibit and the entertaining holiday laser shows at the zoo's Benedum Theater are annual favorites.
While you are waiting for the hillsides to illuminate, there is plenty to do and see at Oglebay. The Ihlenfeld Dining Room at Wilson Lodge offers a holiday buffet nightly and the family-friendly GlassWorks Grill at the lodge is open daily for lunch and dinner. The Winter Festival of Lights is also a special time at the Oglebay specialty shops. In addition to the Carriage House Glass, Farmhouse Sweets & Treat Shoppe, Palm Room and Garden Center shops in the Gardens of Light area, unique items are available at the Resort Shop and West Spa at Wilson Lodge, Nature Express at the Good Zoo, and the NEW Hilltop Christmas Shop. This new shop has a large selection of one-of-a-kind decorations, ornaments and holiday collectibles. All of Oglebay's specialty shops are fully stocked for the holiday season. Can't decide or have someone on your list that's hard to buy for? Gift Cards are available in any amount and can be purchased through the Oglebay Online Marketplace.
Hours & Information
The Winter Festival of Lights is viewable Sunday through Thursday until 10:00 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday 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.
Saturdays are very popular nights to visit the light show. Because of this, long lines should be expected and wait times can be long. Please visit us Sundays through Friday to avoid extended wait times.
Oglebay, and the Winter Festival of Lights, is located 4 miles from I-70 at Exit 2A. It is 60 miles from Pittsburgh via I-79 south and I-70 west; 120 miles from Columbus via I-70 east; and 150 miles from Cleveland via I-77 south and I-70 east. See location page for further directions. Click here for more information about our location.
Special Festival of Lights overnight packages are available at Wilson Lodge. Call 800-624-6988 or book online!