Winter Lights is a magical Christmas light display at Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg, Maryland. You will be able to see more than 450 illuminated displays along the 3.5-mile drive through the park. Driving through the enchanted forest setting, you will experience an array of exhibits that light up the night. Displays over the past years have included a frog prince display, nestled amongst traditional festival favorites that include a Fantasy Castle and magical unicorn fountain. Themed areas include Winter Woods, Teddy Bear Land, Victorian Village, the North Pole, and much more.
Proceeds from the Winter Lights benefit local charities. Past beneficiaries have included Baby’s Bounty, Rebuilding Together Montgomery County, Kentlands Community Foundation, Girls on the Run of Montgomery County, and Women Who Care Ministries. Beneficiaries for 2019's festival include Casey Cares Foundation, College Tracks, and Equipment Connections for Children.
Seneca Creek State Park is located at 11950 Clopper Road in Gaithersburg. From I-270, take Exit 10, Clopper Road (Route 117). Turn right at the light, proceed for approximately two miles. The park is on the left.
Dates and Hours
On most years, the lights run from the day after Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve. The park is closed on Christmas Day. On Sunday through Thursday, the lights are on from 6 to 9 p.m. They're on until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
The price for admission is $15 per car Monday through Thursday and $20 per car Friday through Sunday. Vans and buses carrying 15 to 30 passengers pay $30 every day of the week. Cash and credit cards are accepted. If you purchase tickets online there is a $3 dollar discount for cars, SUVs, mini-vans, and limos. There is a $5 discount for larger vehicles and buses.
The park also hosts several various holiday-themed events in the lead-up to Christmas, some of which happen before the winter lights festivities officially begin.
- S’more Lights: Roast marshmallows over a campfire and make delicious s’mores in a beautiful woodland setting. After your sweet treat hop on a trolley or take a wagon ride through the park to see the illuminated trees, arches, animated scenes. Before you go, take take a few pictures with Santa and make a holiday craft in a heated tent while enjoying hot beverages. There is also an on-site food truck with kid-friendly options, so you won't need to leave the park to make a snack run. Admission is $12, and in 2019 the event is held on Nov. 22. The last entry is at 9 p.m. and the last trolley ride and santa picture is at 9:30 p.m. Dogs aren't allowed at this event
- Run Under the Lights: Run or walk through the Winter Lights display with the Montgomery County Road Runners Club. All are welcome to come to the event which begins at 6 p.m. on Nov. 23. Registration costs $35 for participants 15 years old and young. It's $40 for everyone else. There is a 950-person limit and registration opens on Oct. 1. It sells out quickly every year, so don't dawdle if you're interested!
- Wine Under the Lights: Bring a blanket for a cozy 3-mile open-air trolley ride either before or after you enjoy wine tasting from three local vineyards, food bites, live music, and a beautiful selfie station with fun props inside a heated tent. The tasting package costs $28 and includes 12 tasting tickets, a souvenir glass, light snacks, hot drinks, live music, and a trolley ride. A non-tasting package is available for $18 and does not include wine tasting tickets. Pre-registration is strongly recommended as admission is limited. The event is on Nov. 24.
- Leashes 'n' Lights: Bond with your favorite canine as you experience more than 450 magical light displays. You can take a nice mile-long stroll or go the whole 3 miles. There will be vendors selling dog-related goodies and there are plenty of hot drinks. Cap it all off with a take a pet selfie with Santa. Admission is $10 and last entry is 8 p.m. In 2019 Leases 'n' Lights is on Nov. 26 from 6 to 9 p.m.
This is one of many spectacular holiday light displays in the capital region. For more places to celebrate the season, see a guide to Christmas Light Displays in the Washington, D.C., Area.