Friday, December 20, 2013

Holiday lights twinkle at Tanglewood Park's drive-though display

                                                                Photos courtesy Visit Winston-Salem
Growing up in Northern New Jersey, there was no sign more certain that Christmas was nigh than the arrival of the singing choir boys down the street on our neighbor’s front lawn.

The stiff plastic trio, illuminated from within, cast a comforting glow on the snow-covered lawn of the Lyng family home – where Billy, the eldest son, was the acknowledged dreamboat among the little girls who lived nearby. We’d gather to stare at the angelic faces as Christmas songs played on an endless loop, hoping that Billy, like St. Nicholas, soon would appear.
Holiday decorations have long since gone high tech, but there still is something undeniably charming about driving around and seeing the lights of the season. For those who still crave such magic, the Tanglewood Festival of Lights in Forsyth County is celebrating its 22nd season of presenting a drive-through display.

Long lines of vehicles, many filled with excited children, inch through the park’s rolling lanes to enjoy what is described as one of the Southeast’s largest holiday light shows. While some certainly are more spectacular than others, 83 named displays dot the route.

(If the possibility of a two-hour wait might spoil your festive mood, plan to be in line when the park open at 6 p.m. You can dial into a local radio station to hear holiday tunes, but a word to wise men and women the wheel: come prepared with your own favorites.)
After gliding through a series of twinkling arches, viewers are welcomed by perhaps the most fabulous sight of all – a series of sparkling snowflakes strategically placed so as to create a sense of driving into a winter wonderland. Squirrels chase nuts up a tree, skipping from limb to limb before scooting down one on the other side of the lane. Reindeer similarly sprint overhead. Later, roll down the windows to hear jingling bells as you ride past hundreds on display.
If you’ve been to one of these spectaculars before, many of the visions will be familiar. There is a silly slip-sliding penguin and fire-snorting sea serpent, a grand garden of poinsettias and a serene nativity scene. Given the park’s proximity to Old Salem, there also is a shimmering Moravian star. And on the assumption that other celebrants might find the route appealing, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa displays are given token acreage.
There is seasonal kitsch aplenty to keep a carload of revelers amused along the drive, and those wanting a keepsake or snack can visit the concession area at the Red Barn. Despite the demands of their busy schedule, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand to greet children and accept last-minute additions to wish lists.

The Tanglewood Festival of lights will remain open from 6-11 p.m. nightly (except for Dec. 25) through Jan. 1. For admission costs and other information, call 336-703-6400 or visit
Note: My tour of Tanglewood Festival of Lights was arranged by Visit Winston-Salem. Additional posts about things to do in Winston-Salem will follow. For information about other area events and activities, call Visit Winston-Salem at 336-728-4200 (toll free, 866-728-4200).

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