Hit the Christmas lights
We’re rolling into the last weekend before Christmas and on Friday experiencing the darkest day of the year — the Winter Solstice.
Needless to say with it getting dark before you get home from work, and Santa on his way, it is prime time to hit the holiday lights.
If you haven’t went stark, raving Clark Griswold and put all the wattage onto your cottage, then here’s a few fun places around the region to check out some great Christmas lights.
Walking in a Winter Wonderland of Lights
Ashland’s Winter Wonderland of Lights Festival lights up Ashland’s Central Park through Jan. 1 with more than 800,000 lights.
Hours for the lights are dusk to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and dusk to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
While there’s plenty of time let to see the lights, the last chance to take a pause with the Claus is Thursday, Dec. 20.
Santa will be available for visits and pictures from 6 to 9 p.m. through Dec. 20.
The Winter Wonderland Express train rides through Thursday, Dec. 20. Rides are $3 a person and run from 6 to 9 p.m.
Go online at https://www.facebook.com/wwolashland/for more info about the Winter Wonderland of Lights.
Frosty grooving in the Grove
In its 29th year, the Christmas lights at Paul Porter Park are a family favorite with several unique displays, including a nearly 12-foot Frosty the Snowman, a Nativity scene up on the rocky hill, a candyland playground filled with gingerbread men, a toy land display up the hill and a fire truck display dedicated to Jae Roush, who died in 2012 at age 88.
If you’re already over at the Ashland lights, you’ve got to hit Coal Grove too. Take the Coal Grove exit, and turn right off the exit. Turn left at the flashing light and go one block to the park where you do a drive-through that goes up the steep hill and circles back around where another Frosty (warming his buns by the fire) waves to you as you leave.
Those family lights fantastic
We’ve got several families that are Griswold for Christmas.
In Huntington, roll east to 2659 3rd Ave, Huntington, where the King Family has a lighted 30 to 45-minute display nightly. The nightly show starts at dusk and runs until midnight through Dec. 31. Tune your vehicle FM radio to 90.5 — stop by and enjoy. Please be conscientious of our neighbors — please don’t block driveways and keep you music volume to a reasonable level inside your car.
Over at Terry and Linda Griffin’s house in Chesapeake it is “All About the Lights.”
This is the 11th season for the Griffins’ music and lights program which features a sea of yard ornaments and decorations synchronized to Christmas music.
Signs on the brick columns at the base of their driveway instruct passers-by to tune into 88.7 FM to hear the Christmas songs synced with the lights at the house, located at 3 Park Drive off of County Road 123 in Chesapeake. The lights are scheduled to be on display from about 5:30 to 10 p.m. every evening through Dec. 31.
Out Ona way, the Lewis home is once again lit with more than 30,000 lights in a kinetic display set to music. The Lewis family’s lights display can be viewed at their home, 2554 Grant Gardens Rd., Ona, nightly from about 5:30 p.m. to about 11:30 p.m.
And just a block over from Ironton High School, don’t miss the awesome lights and music on South Sixth Street. You literally can’t miss it.
Take a bicycle lights ride
See Huntington decked out in its holiday splendor at 6:30 p.m. Friday, as the December Critical Mass bicycle ride meets up at the Ritter Park fountain to take a six mile leisurely ride around the city.
Be sure and have lights on your bike. The Critical Mass ride rolls west to 14th Street and through Central City before turning back along Virginia Avenue and Veterans Memorial Boulevard back through Pullman Square and then back on 10th Street to Ritter Park.
Into the cave
Head north to Scioto County, Ohio (just east of Portsmouth) to Minford, Ohio, where White Gravel Mines is hosting its annual Christmas Cave Fridays and Saturdays through Dec, 22. Enjoy this self-guided Christmas light display in the beautiful and mysterious passageways of an old underground mine. Admission is free but donations are appreciated.
There are 16 indoor full-size display scenes, a mini planetarium, two fun tunnels, a gift shop, thousands and thousands of Christmas lights, outdoor displays, a walking trail to our cascading pond, 4 new parking lots, and an all-over spirit of Christmas. Hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 21-22.
Go online at https://www.facebook.com/whitegravelmines/for more info.
Lights, skating, action in Portsmouth
The Friends of Portsmouth are putting this historic Ohio River city on the map and in the record books with its first year Toyota Winterfest that runs through Dec. 30.
Last Saturday, in the rain, the Friends brought out 1,880 Christmas Carolers, to officially put Portsmouth, Ohio, into the Guinness Book of World Records beating Waukesha, Wisconsin’s record.
While nearly 2,000 may not be around this week, there’s still plenty of fun to check out including light displays on the historic buildings in the historic Boneyfiddle district. There’s also ice skating, horse and carriage rides, Santa visit, a gift shop, live nativity and more, and lots of cool nearby downtown shops and restaurants like Charlie Haskins’ Haskins House Records, Patties and Pints and Portsmouth Brewing Company.
Go online at https://www.facebook.com/events/2104690546248288/for more info about Toyota Winterfest at Market Square.
Christmas in the park at Chief Logan State Park
One of the state’s destination light displays, the 25th annual Christmas in the Park runs daily through Dec. 31.
Featuring more than 200 LED holiday light displays, the lights come on at dark and remain lit until around 10 p.m. at the two-mile-long drive-through display at Chief Logan State Park in Logan, West Virginia. Tour buses and vans welcomed. The display is free, but donations to help pay for the cost of the electricity needed to run the attraction and display maintenance are appreciated.
Lodging is available at Chief Logan Lodge, and the restaurant is open. Make room reservations by calling 833-987-2757 or clicking “Book Now” on the park website.
Festival of Lights and Yuletide in the Park
Get a sweet double shot of lights in the valley with a stop by the Valley Park in Hurricane, West Virginia, for Yuletide in the Park which runs from 5:30 to 11 p.m. nightly through Dec. 31. A donation booth will be set up to benefit the Friends of the Park. Entry to the park is free, so bring your family out for a fun evening to walk around and get in the Christmas spirit. The Valley Park light display is only at the front of Valley Park this season.
Enter the two-lane entrance and then loop around the front ball field and exit out the one-lane road.
A quick run through Valley Park’s animated displays is a good appetizer for one of the area’s best displays, the 31st annual St. Albans Festival of Lights, which runs 6 to 9 nightly through Dec. 26. The festival is closed Dec. 24-25. Come by, bring the kids to meet Santa and enjoy the sights and sounds of the holiday season. Pictures with Santa are $5.
The Festival of Lights is free, but monetary donations and donations of canned food items are accepted at the entrance. Call 304-562-0518 for Yuletide in the Park, and call 304-722-4625 for St. Albans. Go online at http://www.salights.com/to find out more about the St. Albans Festival of Lights and to get directions from Huntington.
Road trip Kings Island
Not for summers only, Kings Island, in Mason, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati,
Step into a world of holiday fun at WinterFest select nights Nov. 23 through Dec.31. Discover the magic within 10 enchanting winter wonderlands including more than 5 million lights, ice skating on the Royal Fountain, festive characters spreading merriment, rides, live shows, and the Eiffel Tower transformed into a magical Christmas tree.
After winning the Best Halloween Theme Park event in the country a few months ago, theme park industry experts from USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice poll have nominated Kings Island’s WinterFest as one of the Best Holiday Theme Park Events in the country.
The event is open 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20 through Sunday, Dec. 23, and then again, Dec. 26-31.
Go online at https://www.visitkingsisland.com/play/winterfest-home.
Holiday of Lights Festival
Bluefield City Park, 1780 Stadium Drive, Bluefield, gets transformed into a winter wonderland through Dec. 31.
Drive through the 1.5 miles of the 110-acre park that is lit with more than 850,000 lights celebrating the holidays.
Open through Dec 31. Hours of Operation are 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 6 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Coonskin Holiday Lights
Heading to Charleston for some shopping, be sure to swing through Coonskin Park’s drive-through display of holiday lights from 5:30 to 10 p.m. through Dec. 31.
All points pleasant
The Christmas Fantasy Light Show at Krodel Park, Point Pleasant, turns the lights on at dusk nightly and features 30 animated displays and more than a million lights including Santa Claus, Santa’s workshop, gingerbread men, angels, a 20-foot windmill, pirate ship, dragon in the lake, Santa’s band and many more, including the infamous Mothman.
You can drive through or get out and walk around the lake on a nice evening. Those lights are up 6 to 9 p.m. nightly through Dec. 31. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.
Call 304-675-3844 or go online at www.masoncountytourism.org.
If you’re in Point Pleasant, might as well hop the Ohio River to Gallipolis for the sixth annual and ever-growing Gallipolis in Lights at Gallipolis City Park.Go online at www.facebook.com/GallipolisInLights for more info.