DMV’s Largest Light Show Officially Opens Today

Winter City Lights is described as “a magical holiday experience of 1 million twinkling lights spread across 18-acres of an outdoor winter wonderland where it is guaranteed to Winter City snow every night.” This is the largest light show in the Washington DC and Baltimore area. Everything you need to know below, per Winter City Lights:

It’s returning to 4501 Olney Laytonsville Road in Olney starting Saturday, November 18th. Winter City Lights is one of the most technologically advanced Christmas light experiences in the country. Complete with 14 bonfires, Winter City Lights includes an enchanted 1.5-mile long trail of Christmas lights and displays through the woods, a 52-foot high programmable Christmas lights tree and light show, a 200-foot diameter canopy of Christmas lights, an 8 lane Snow Tubing Ride, s’mores, funnel cakes & more.

The experience is designed to be eco-friendly with high-quality, low-energy lighting and aluminum displays, all made with recycled products and plastics. Tickets are available to be purchased only through the Winter City Lights website.

Do I have to purchase my Winter City Lights entry ticket online? Yes, we ONLY offer ADVANCED ONLINE GENERAL ADMISSION TICKET PURCHASES for Winter City Lights. An electronic ticket and an electronically signed waiver are required before you enter the event – waivers must be completed when you arrive and before you go through security. Kids under 4 years of age are FREE.  Kids under 4 years of age get the Penguin Plunge Snow Tubing Ride FREE too as long as they meet the height requirements found under the “About – Attractions” drop down menu on the top of the website – with a paid adult 18 and older!

What does my entry ticket include? The General Admission entry ticket is a great value and includes entry to the 18 acre event, the 52 foot high tree light shows, the 32,000 square foot over-head canopy light shows, the light displays and 20 bonfires in the compound, the 1.5 mile trail of lights and amazing displays, “snow” storms every half hour, FREE PARKING and access to rest areas and the Snowball Cafe (concessions are extra). No other event has so much to enjoy in one location with no large crowd or quick ending – it’s a great value for an entire night of fun and you can spend hours onsite with the whole family – the best holiday gram pic spots you will find anywhere!!

What doesn’t my entry ticket include? The entry ticket DOES NOT include the Penguin Plunge Snow Tubing Ride or the Lumberjack Axe Toss or Concessions. The Penguin Plunge Snow Tubing Ride and Lumberjack Axe Toss can be purchased online at the same time as the entry ticket or onsite, if there is still availability. The Penguin Plunge Snow Tubing Ride has limited tickets available and WILL SELL OUT each night so buy those tickets in advance along with your entry ticket!  There are NO ON SITE entry tickets for sale, but you can ADD the Penguin Plunge Snow Tubing Ride and Lumberjack Axe Toss when you arrive, if there is availability. Hack: Buy ALL your entry tickets and your Snow Tubing and Axe Toss add-ons in advance!

What is the 8-lane Penguin Plunge Ice Tubing Ride experience like? It is a fast and exciting UNLIMITED tube ride down icy pathways for qualifying riders at certain heights – all you can ride!  See qualifying heights under the “About – Attractions” drop down. Once you buy an entry ticket, you can buy the snow tubing ride – you cannot purchase the snow tube ride by itself. We highly recommend you buy the tube ride in advance as it will be extremely popular. The tickets are per person and cannot be shared with someone else in your party after use or be transferred.

Is the event Wheelchair accessible? We have an asphalt pathway that can assist a wheelchair guest from the parking area to the main compound where the tree, bonfires, concessions and some displays reside.  The compound is covered in mulch but it is possible to get around with certain chairs. You can enjoy the bonfires and concessions and we do our best to provide as much of a lights experience as possible. If you want to provide us with additional details we would be happy to try to accommodate you so we can make the most of your night.

What is the compound area like? The area we refer to as the compound is a 5 acre flat mulched area with 20 bonfires that have several bales of har around each of them for you to enjoy.  The compound also has 4-6 large light displays for picture-taking and enjoyment and has the most magical 52 foot tree in the center ready to amaze you. Cascading down from the top of the tree is a 32,000 square foot canopy of lights that will be over your head as you enjoy the holiday atmosphere.  The tree and the canopy of lights are coordinated to together to music to put on two incredible 3 min light shows – one every 30 mins when it will also “SNOW.”  Tables, chairs and the Snowball Cafe concessions area sit on the out-edge of the compound with hot chocolate and s’mores ready to be purchased that can be cooked over the open bonfires.

What is the 1.5-mile mulched Christmas lights trail like? The mulched trail experience is a hike like any hike you might find in the woods at night that has a few longer hills we want you to be aware of. The path’s surface is heavily mulched and uneven and you should wear sturdy shoes or boots. Be prepared for a 50-minute-plus hike where people may pass you on the trail or you may pass people as individuals will enjoy the trail at their own pace. There are a few steep hills that will take physical exertion, the path will be uneven, bumpy, possibly dark and, at times, damp, wet and/or slippery depending on the weather. Anyone with leg, back, heart or any health issue, are, or may be pregnant, or may be negatively impacted by such physical exertion should NOT walk the main Christmas lights trail and just enjoy the compound. The elderly should be extra careful when considering walking the trail and parents with children should be prepared to carry them if necessary.

What is the Mini Christmas lights trail and what is it like? Accessibility to our event is important for us to try and provide to our customers. The two or three hills or the sheer length of our 1.5 mile trail makes accessibility hard for the very young, elderly or someone with a disability or with health issues similar to what is outlined above. Although we cannot guarantee this Mini Trail will be able to provide everyone access, we have tried to develop a shorter option that is a “trail within a trail” that is still mulched and bumpy exactly similar to what we described above, but shorter and flatter.  This trail is approximately half as long as the longer trail and a golf cart is used at times to help customers navigate the longer areas we think they would like assistance with. The description and risks to this trial are the exact same as the longer trail, just shorter and flatter – but not totally flat either. There is no difference in price if you choose to utilize the Mini Trail.

How long will it take me to walk the Christmas lights trail? The main trail is 1.5 miles long and will take different people different amounts of time to complete. You may want to take a casual stroll amongst the lights and take a lot of pictures or you may want to quicken your pace – it is up to you. At a minimum, you should expect the trail to take at least 50 minutes. You will also spend time in the compound with our 52-foot tree and 200-foot canopy, sit around bonfires, eat delicious concessions and you may ADD the 8 lane Snow Tubing Ride. You will enjoy a festive night out and the length of time you stay is up to you, until we close.

What should I wear? This Christmas lights event is completely outdoors so dress warmly, wear sturdy shoes or hiking or walking boots, and be prepared for the weather. The grounds and parking lots can be slippery, uneven and wet. Long pants and sturdy shoes are highly recommended. Flips flops, open-toed shoes and high heels are a really bad idea no matter how good they look.

What is an appropriate age for an individual to attend Winter City Lights? The attraction is designed to be enjoyed by a broad range of ages. There is something for everyone to enjoy. However, the entire event is on grass, dirt or a mulched surface. The trail is an off-road, mulched hike through the woods that may be too much for the elderly and for little kids or infants. The trail is long so a parent will have a difficult time carrying a child for the duration and type of trail. There are a few hills that will take a decent amount of exertion. You need to be prepared for a hike in the woods on an uneven and, at times, slippery, uneven, dark mulched trail. Guardians and parents need to use their discretion as to the appropriateness of this event for kids and the elderly they are accompanying.  Kids Under 4 years of age are FREE for enter and FREE to ride the snow tube ride – as long as they are with a paid accompanying adult 18 years old or older and meet minimum height requirements for the tube ride.

Can I bring a stroller to the event and on the trail? We DO NOT RECOMMEND you use a stroller to access any part of Winter City Lights; however, they are allowed in the compound and around the snow tube ride waiting area. The compound is completely mulched so we recommend you bring an off-road stroller, if you have one. Strollers are 100% NOT ALLOWED ON THE TRAIL – it is too dangerous for the sometimes hilly terrain if you were to lose control of your stroller! Bring a child backpack or similar to use on the trail. We will have a stroller valet area where you can check and leave the stroller for free as you enjoy the compound or the trail.

Are dogs allowed? Unfortunately not.

Should I be concerned if I have medical conditions? Enter at your own risk. There are inherent risks associated with participating in the Winter City Lights events. These events are intended to be experienced outdoors and those conditions can vary for several reasons – footing, surfaces, topography, lighting, weather, customer usage, vandalism or damage are just a few. Grassed and mulched trails, queue lines and pathways will be uneven, slippery and dark, and there are several special effects, including strobe lights, loud noises, bonfires, latex, claustrophobia-type areas, fog and special-effect snow and many other potential hazards that are used throughout the attractions that could inadvertently cause harm. Participants are REQUIRED to sign a waiver before entering and participating in the Winter City Lights events. By entering any of the Winter City Lights events or compound, you are confirming with us that you understand what you are about to get yourself into and have properly completed and signed the waiver, and are taking on risks and waiving your rights.

What is dated and timed ticketing? When you buy an entry ticket, you will be required to pick the date you’d like to attend and the time-slot. The time-slot will provide you with your arrival time and we recommend you are not late. It is not a guaranteed entry time onto the Christmas Lights Trail. Arrive 10 minutes early so you can get organized and complete your waiver.

How does ticketing work? There is ONE ENTRY TICKET FOR ADULTS, ONE FOR SENIORS and ONE ENTRY TICKET FOR KIDS. See Attractions tab for more information. You can buy additional events in advance or ADD additional events to your ticket for an ADDITIONAL FEE when you arrive, depending on availability. See Attractions tab.

Do you offer Fast Passes or VIP Passes? No

Do you accept credit cards at concession and merchandising areas? Yes, we accept Visa, Mastercard and Apple Pay and others onsite for concessions.

 

What happens if it rains or there is bad weather or circumstances that require closure? The event will be closed in steady rain or severe storms or cold and we will post that on our Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter accounts. As a ticket purchaser, you will be offered the remaining available dates to pick another date for your attendance. We DO NOT offer refunds due to the nature of the event but our tickets are good for future years too.

Do you have group discounts? Yes. Groups of 15 or more should contact [email protected] to learn more about discounts and logistics for a smooth arrival and entry. Groups must make an advanced reservation in order to obtain the discount and each must complete a waiver.

Do you have discounts if I do not want to walk the 1.5 mile Christmas Lights trail or am just chaperoning? No. The compound is a lot of fun and the main 52-foot Christmas Lights Show, 200-foot canopy Christmas Lights Show, 15 bonfires and music all occur where you will be relaxing as others walk the trail.

Do you sell food or alcohol?
Yes. We sell a large selection of tasty food but won’t be selling alcoholic beverages this year. Drugs are not permitted on site and if you are deemed to be out of control, unruly or under the influence of alcohol to a degree you’ve lost reasoning, the police or security on site will remove you from the premises.

Can I get a refund? No. Winter City operates on a budget with fixed costs as it helps support the Olney Boys & Girls Community Sports Association. You can use these tickets at a future date or in the following year.

When is the best time to come so we can avoid a long wait? You must buy tickets online and in advance. The timed ticketing system allows for a smooth flow of people. In general, Fridays and Saturdays will be larger crowds and any date that is close to Christmas is busy -early in the week are the slowest nights. Please be patient and expect lines if you come on busier nights.

Do you have security on site? Yes. In addition to the security cameras, Winter City Lights is staffed with police and security personnel. You may be asked to be wanded by a metal detector or walk through a metal and gun detector.

Featured photo by @DronifyDMV

 

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