Holiday light displays add a welcome glow to a winter night

By car or foot, visitors have options across the region

Outside: sports, activities, events

December 11, 2003|By Meredith James and Julia Furlong | Meredith James and Julia Furlong,SUN STAFF

It's the holiday season, and local governments, organizations and businesses have created twinkling wonders all over the region. Most of the lighted displays are drive-through shows, allowing viewers to enjoy the spectacle from the warmth of their cars.

But for those who may resist spending another second in an enclosed space with the family, some exhibits allow viewers to maintain personal space, whether the winter wonderland is experienced from a dock or a wooded trail.

So gather the family - or perhaps just a cup of hot cocoa - and check out our guide to holiday lighting displays.

Lights on the Bay

Where: Sandy Point State Park off U.S. 50 on the west side of the Bay Bridge

When: Now-Jan. 5; 5 p.m.-10 p.m. nightly

Features: A two-mile, drive-through stretch of holiday lights set up, in part, by naval midshipmen

Cost: $12 per vehicle, $50 for buses

Contact: 410-974-2149

Winterfest of Lights

Where: Northside Park, 127th Street and the bay, Ocean City

When: Now-Jan. 2; 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays

Features: Animated lighting displays, the Winterfest Tram and the Winterfest Village, offering hot chocolate, shopping at the Yukon Cornelius' Gift Shop and photos with Santa

Cost: Free. Tram rides are $3 for those 12 and older

Contact: 410-250-0125 or 800-OC-OCEAN (800-626-2326)

Garden in Lights

Where: Annmarie Garden, 13480 Dowell Road off Route 2-4, Solomons Island

When: Tomorrow-Jan. 1; 6 p.m.-9 p.m.

Features: A drive-through display with themed areas, such as "Loblolly Bay," "Modern Meadow," "Celestial Tunnel," "Ann's Garden," "Ornament Alley" and "Winter Fun," decorated by unique light sculptures

Cost: $5 per car suggested donation; contributing the full amount results in a pass for unlimited visits.

Special events: A "Holiday I Spy" game. Each car will receive a program listing hidden elements for viewers to search for during their drive.

Contact: 410-326-4640

Symphony of Lights

Where: Symphony Woods, Merriweather Post Pavilion entrance off Broken Land Parkway, Columbia

When: Now-Jan. 4: 6 p.m.-10 p.m. today, 6 p.m.-11 p.m. thereafter.

Features: A 1.4-mile drive-through display, with light sculptures as large as 25 feet high by 66 feet wide and fanciful holiday scenes. Also, an accompanying FM radio frequency with seasonal music. This is a fund-raiser for Howard County General Hospital's Labor & Delivery, Neonatal Intensive Care and Pediatric units.

Cost: $12 per car, van or RV up to 11 people, $25 for vans and minibuses seating 12-24 people and $75 for buses with more than 25 passengers. Tickets can be purchased at the main gate, at the entrance on Broken Land Parkway

Contact: 410-740-7666

Eastport Yacht Club's Lights Parade

Where: Anywhere with good view of the Annapolis Harbor and Ego Alley in Annapolis.

When: Saturday; 6 p.m.-8 p.m.

Features: Dozens of light-adorned vessels parade through the Annapolis Harbor. The land-loving public is invited to watch the event, in its 21st year, from the surrounding streets.

Cost: Free

Special events: Watch to see which barges win awards, including the coveted People's Choice.

Tip: While you can see the parade floating by from anywhere near the Annapolis Harbor, Eastport Bridge will be temporarily closed to traffic and is the ideal location for an elevated view. Dress warmly.

Contact: 410 263-0415

Winter Lights

Where: Seneca Creek State Park, 11950 Clopper Road in Gaithersburg

When: Now through Jan. 3 (closed Dec. 25); open 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

Features: A 3.5-mile drive through a forest filled with more than 300 illuminated displays and 60 animated displays. Special themed areas include Winter Woods, Teddy Bear Land, Victorian Village and the North Pole.

Cost: $10 for cars, $25 for 15-passenger vans, $50 for buses

Special events: Proceeds benefit local charities. Also, "Bright Lights, Big Money" promotion allows visitors to register to win a $1,000 Lakeforest shopping spree.

Contact: 301-258-6350

Winter Festival of Lights

Where: Watkins Regional Park, 301 Watkins Park Drive in Upper Marlboro

When: Now through Jan. 4; 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Features: This is the 17th anniversary of this drive-through aglow with more than 1 million light bulbs and holiday decorations.

Cost: $5 for cars/vans, $15 for minibuses and limos, $25 for buses. $15 passes (good for five visits) may be purchased for cars and vans. All vehicles are free on Dec. 25.

Special events: Organizers encourage visitors to bring canned food, which will be distributed to local shelters.

Contact: 301-699-2456

Christmas Magic: A Festival of Lights

Where: Rocky Ridge County Park, 1.5 miles north of Route 30 off of Mount Zion Road (Route 24), near York, Pa.

When: Now-Dec. 23, Dec. 26-Dec. 31; 6 p.m.-9 p.m. on Mondays-Fridays and 5 p.m.-9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays

Features: A woodland setting for a handicapped-accessible walking trail with more than 250,000 lights. Also, food, entertainment, crafts and a model-train display.

Cost: $5 for adults, $3 for children 4-12, $4 for seniors, free for children under 4, $4 per adult for groups of 11 or more

Special events: The Park Rangers are holding a food drive to benefit local Pennsylvania charities.

Contact: 717-840-7440

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