For the holiday season, Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia, is hosting a Christmas light display called a “Winter Walk of Lights.” The dazzling walking tour includes over a half-million LED lights and unique animated displays with a nature themes that are sure to delight onlookers. You'll see everything from bubbling streams, jumping fish, deer, and dragonflies. And of course, there will also be seasonal displays including a Gingerbread Village and even a pumpkin patch. The path is about a half of a mile long, so wear good walking shoes and bundle up tight.
When not transformed into a winter wonderland, Meadowlark Gardens is a 95-acre botanical garden operated by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. The complex includes unique native plant collections, walking trails, lakes, gazebos, a visitor center, and a restored 18th-century cabin. During the daytime, it's also a one of the best places to take in a view of the Piedmont Hills.
How to Visit
Coming back for its 8th year the Winter Walk of Lights will take place on November 8, 2019, through January 5, 2020, from 5:30 to 10 p.m. The seasonal event is open seven days a week, rain or shine. This includes Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's too!
Timed admission tickets are required and are available online. A limited number of tickets will be sold at the door at a higher cost while they last. The event typically receives over 75,000 visitors each year over the season, so make sure you get your tickets while you can!
There are also special appreciation nights for first responders, military members, nurses, and teachers. On these nights, admission is free for these individuals, as long as they can show the proper identification.
Things to Do at the Winter Walk of Lights
When you come to the Meadowlark's Winter Walk of Lights, you'll find more than just Christmas lights. There are light refreshments concessions for hot beverages (including hot chocolate) and a s'mores station, which is handy since you won't be allowed to bring your own food into the event. There are also many events going on while the Winter Walk of Lights is open, which includes theme nights with funny photo props and craft stations. For something really special, you can catch the sunset in the park on December 20 and gain access to the light display before the day's official opening. There will even be a short photography lesson!
No matter which night you go, children will have a blast searching for a variety of animals and other fun displays along with the walk. Ask for a Light Search activity sheet at admissions in the Visitor Center. Children, who complete this activity, can get a neat holiday sticker when they turn it back into the Visitor Center before they leave.
If you're looking for a nice dinner spot nearby, Ristorante Bonarroti is an Italian restaurant and local favorite or, for something more informal, try the Peruvian Super Chicken in Tyson's Square or the Greek Nostos.