The Winter Festival of Lights is Prince George’s County, Maryland’s drive-through Christmas light display featuring more than a million twinkling lights. The Department of Parks and Recreation sponsors this event at Watkin's Regional Park, and it is one of the most affordable light displays in the region.
The event takes place on Friday, November 29, 2019, through Tuesday, January 1, 2020. You can drive through nightly from 5 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.
How to Visit
Directions: From the Capital Beltway (I-495), take Exit 15A (Central Avenue) east. Continue for approximately three miles. Turn right onto Watkins Park Drive (Route 193) and follow the signs to Watkins Regional Park. From Route 301, turn onto Central Avenue (Route 214) west. Continue for approximately three miles (past Six Flags America). Turn left onto Watkins Park Drive and follow to the park entrance on the right.
Address: Watkins Regional Park, 301 Watkins Park Drive, Upper Marlboro, Maryland. The park is about a half-hour's drive from Washington, D.C.
Cost: $10 per car; $20 for mini-buses and limos; $30 for buses; and $20 for multi-visit passes for cars and vans (good for three visits). You can pay ahead of time or at the entrance with cash or credit card. If you pre-purchase your admission online, you can also save a couple of dollars.
Your admission also includes a pair of festival spectacles, which allow viewers to see magical floating holographic images throughout the drive that lend a futuristic feel.
Free Nights: On December 2, 2019, entrance is free for residents of Prince George's County as a thank you for their year-round support of the Department of Parks and Recreation. Additionally, Christmas Day is free for all visitors.
Donations: All spectators are encouraged to bring canned or non-perishable food items as a donation for local food banks to distribute throughout the holidays.
Festival of Lights Display
The Christmas Light Display at Watkins Regional Park is a fun family event for all ages. Tune your car radio to some Christmas favorites, and enjoy a drive through a winter wonderland while taking in the lights that include reindeer, snowflakes, toy soldiers, Santa, gingerbread men, candy canes, and much more.
One of the most popular displays is the Gingerbread House. Enjoy this life-size house as well as the many seasonal displays of lights. Children love the carousel of lights, as well as the 54-foot, LED musical tree.
Nearby Holiday Events
The Washington, D.C. area has many other seasonal activities for the whole family including tree lighting ceremonies, tours of decorated historic houses, holiday festivals, live musical performances, and special events.
For fans of Christmas lights, the National Christmas Tree and the Pathway of Peace is illuminated daily at dusk until 10 p.m. Each night in December, musical groups from the Washington, D.C. area entertain visitors on the Ellipse, in front of the White House. This is another memorable way to enjoy the holiday season. Although tickets are required for the Lighting Ceremony, the nightly events following it are open to the general public.
Watkin's Regional Park Activities
Watkins Regional Park is one of the most popular parks in the county. During the day, park-goers can enjoy playgrounds, picnic areas, hiking and biking trails, Watkins Nature Center, the Chesapeake Carousel, Old Maryland Farm, the Watkins Regional Park miniature train, Watkins Miniature Golf Course, softball, football and soccer fields, basketball courts, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, and 34 campsites.