The Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights, begun in 1985, has grown into one of the nation's largest holiday light shows. It attracts more than a million visitors per year, including 3,000 tour buses from more than 36 states. The show has even been given the distinction of being listed in the American Bus Association's Top 100 International Events, and was named by Yahoo Travel as one of the top light shows to see in the United States.
The Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights covers more than three hundred acres over a six-mile drive throughout the Oglebay resort. Eighty displays and over one million lights spread over 300 acres feature in this celebration. The entire Winter Festival of Lights has also been fully converted to energy-efficient, brilliant LED.
Original display favorites in the Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights include the animated Snowflake Tunnel, a Candy Cane Wreath, The Twelve Days of Christmas, the massive Polyhedron Star, and Willard the Snowman, named for the TV weatherman Willard Scott who 'turned on' the lights in 1986. Directional Snoopy characters help guide visitors through the 6-mile tour.
After driving through the six-mile display, be sure to check out the life-size Nativity scene and its surrounding Christmas Tree Garden, as well as the elaborate holiday decorations at the Mansion Museum and Wilson Lodge.
The Good Zoo Lights up for You
An exciting light and music show at the Good Zoo at Oglebay runs every 20 minutes from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with 35,500 lights choreographed to holiday music. More zoo fun includes Holiday Laser Shows at the Benedum Theater, the O-Gauge Model Train Exhibit, and live reindeer.
Admission to the Zoo is required.
Gardens of Light:
The hilltop and gardens area of Oglebay Resort are beautiful, even in winter, with 150 hanging baskets of light, plus thousands of lighted flowers and trees between the Visitors' Center, Gift Shops, and Mansion Museum.
Oglebay Resort & Conference Center, Wheeling, WV
Open mid-November through the first week of January. Hours: Sunday through Thursday dusk to 10:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday until 11:00 p.m.
There is no admission charge for the Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights, but donations are appreciated (and generally expected). A one-time donation per carload is valid for the entire festival season. Trolley tours are also offered from Wilson Lodge, first come, first-served for $10 per seat.
Oglebay, and the Winter Festival of Lights is located 4 miles from I-70 at Exit 2A. It is 60 miles from Pittsburgh via I-79 south and I-70 west; 120 miles from Columbus via I-70 east; and 150 miles from Cleveland via I-77 south and I-70 east. See location for further directions.
The Ihlenfeld Dining Room at Wilson Lodge offers a popular holiday buffet nightly, and the seven specialty shops at Oglebay are stocked with unique gifts.
Downtown Wheeling also gets into the holiday spirit with dozens of homes, shops and business establishments ablaze in holiday lights.
Weekends at the Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights are so popular that you should expect to sit in line for up to two hours waiting to get in. Most people say it's worth it, however!