The Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights at the Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, West Virginia, is one of the nation's largest and most extravagant holiday light shows in the U.S. It attracts more than a million visitors per year who come to enjoy the 300 acres of light displays set up around the premises. Just an hour outside of Pittsburgh, it's easy to reach for an evening of Christmas cheer or you can book a night at the resort for an overnight excursion.
How to Visit
The Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights is held at the Oglebay Resort & Conference Center in Wheeling, West Virginia. If you're coming from Pittsburgh, drive south on I-79 until you reach I-70 West, crossing the border into West Virginia and arriving almost to the border of Ohio. The total trip is just under 60 miles from downtown Pittsburgh.
For the 2020 holiday season, the Winter Festival of Lights runs between November 6, 2020, and January 10, 2021. The Winter Festival of Lights is open every night from dusk until 11 p.m.
The suggested donation to enter the Winter Festival of Lights is $25 per vehicle, but a one-time donation per carload gives you a pass to return at any time throughout the season. In addition, you'll get a coupon book to use at local businesses. Trolley tours are also offered from Wilson Lodge on a first-come, first-served basis. Weekends at the Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights are so popular that you should expect to sit in line for up to two hours to get in, but locals and visitors alike agree that it's worth the wait.
What to Expect
The Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights covers more than 300 acres over a 6-mile drive throughout the Oglebay Resort. Ninety displays and over 1 million lights are featured in this celebration, and the entire event has been fully converted to use 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 at the inaugural festival in 1986. Directional Snoopy characters help guide visitors through the tour.
After driving through the display, there is also a life-size Nativity scene and Christmas Tree Garden on the premises that you can visit, as well as the elaborate holiday decorations at the Mansion Museum and Wilson Lodge.
More Holiday Events at Oglebay
If you want to spend a weekend at the Oglebay Resort, there are plenty of other holiday happenings to keep the whole family entertained all day long.
The on-site zoo hosts all kinds of winter-themed events throughout the season, in addition to housing an eclectic collection of animals. Stop by to see a special light show, Santa's Workshop, and a "Wish for Snow" event that promises snowfall every night of the week. You can even book a special one-on-one encounter with real-life reindeer and their trainers to get up close and personal with Santa's most trusted steeds.
At the hotel, enjoy special holiday dining and shopping events to fill in the day. Kids can eat breakfast with Santa and roast s'mores overs a fire in the evening while parents sip on a steaming cup of spiked hot cocoa. The Carriage House Christmas Shop inside the hotel is decorated to look like a winter wonderland, adding to the holiday charm of the resort.