By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
Holiday-goers looking to capture the spirit of the season have several spectacular events to choose from in our own area:
Shimmering Solstice at Old Westbury Gardens
Shimmering Solstice at Old Westbury Gardens, a Long Island landmark, returns for its second year, and has rapidly become my favorite holiday happening. You are enchanted by a series of magical light displays as you stroll the beautiful meandering paths through Old Westbury Gardens’ Walled Garden, Rose Garden, South Lawn, and Allée.
“This walkthrough light show is uniquely designed specifically for Old Westbury Gardens, a beautiful Long Island landmark” said Nancy Costopulos, President and CEO of Old Westbury Gardens.
This year, even more beautiful visuals have been added including a re-designed interactive area featuring three new exhibits that will delight adults and children alike; seasonal music throughout the expanded illuminated event path sets a mood; there is a breathtaking new illuminated water feature on the West Pond. Also, the Garden of Appreciation is turned into a pleasant warming area with a concession stand for seasonal snacks and drinks.
Shimmering Solstice is a completely custom-built show by Lightswitch, a collective of internationally recognized lighting, media, and visual designers that has been uniquely designed to highlight the features of Old Westbury Gardens. The goal was to turn the gardens into a visitor location that can be enjoyed during the fall and winter holiday season and that would remain consistent with the mission of Old Westbury Gardens.
“Shimmering Solstice was designed to be a celebration of our space,” said Maura Brush, Director of Horticulture at Old Westbury Gardens. “The features that define Old Westbury Gardens such as the formal allées, ponds, and statuary are all illuminated so visitors can view them in a completely different light.”
This walk-through show is a family friendly experience people of all ages can enjoy. It is beautifully spaced and there are paths geared for strollers and wheelchairs. In all, you walk about a mile and visit at your own pace (typically 60-90 minutes to really enjoy).
For the exciting finale, you are again dazzled to see the south facade of Westbury House come alive with magical lights and seasonal sounds—this year with a twist.
It is beautifully spaced and there are paths geared for strollers and wheelchairs. In all, you walk about a mile and visit at your own pace (typically 60-75 minutes to really enjoy).
Tickets are $34.95/adults, $19.95/kids 2-13, $26.95/Senior Sundays (65+), $80/Anytime, Any Day. The show runs on select dates through January 1, 2023 (nightly December 26-Jan. 1). The admission time starts at 5:30 p.m. Check website for available dates and times.
Old Westbury Gardens, 71 Old Westbury Rd., Old Westbury, NY 11568, https://shimmeringsolstice.com/.
Amaze Light Festival, NYC’s Newest Holiday Attraction, Dazzles at Citifield
A million lights fashioned into fanciful characters and iconic symbols of the holiday season – so big you can walk or climb through, sit inside a train locomotive, a gigantic teddy bear, a Christmas tree, Santa’s hat, a giant Frosty the Snowman. Teams of reindeer. A Castle of lights.
This is the Amaze Light Festival – a new immersive, interactive holiday attraction for New York City, taking up a sprawling 50,000 square feet of outdoor space at Queens’ Citifield where this is plenty of space to run around in the winter night air (bundle up).
The Amaze Light Festival is produced by Artistic Holiday Designs, a holiday decoration design firm known for designing interactive experiences, in partnership with Leblanc Illuminations. Debuting last year at Rosemont in Chicago, Amaze Light Festival has expanded this year to two new sites, running simultaneously in New York City’s iconic Citi Field and Chicagoland’s Odyssey Fun World in Tinley Park, Wednesdays through Sundays through January 8.
Amaze Light Festival, designed as an ‘immersive” storybook experience, takes you on an “illuminous holiday adventure” inspired by storybook characters Zing and Sparky through five thematic displays, each one offering dazzling photo opportunities.
There are also a couple of optional rides available: a cute Arctic Express Train ride through a light display headlined by a giant Frosty the Snowman ($10 pp) that takes about four minutes, and a tubing experience down Zing’s Thrill Hill ($5/per ride or $10 for 3 rides) that lasts about 10 seconds.
There are also live performances every two-hours and a light show every 30-minutes. Throughout, classic holiday music plays, weaving together the experience.
German-styled cottages housing goodies and featuring local small business offering special gifts fill the Amaze Market, a version of a Christmas market. You can also find an array of sweet and savory dishes and festive beverages including: baked goods, hot cocoa, savory plates, sweet dishes, and crafted cocktails, plus various items from food trucks.
Additional highlights include the candy-fueled Sparky’s Sweet Spot, an enclosed candy emporium, and Zing’s Toyporium, selling a selection of educational-style toys, where you also find Zing’s Buddy Builder, a toy machine which provides the opportunity to donate to Make-A-Wish Southern Florida, Hurricane Ian Relief (American Red Cross) or Toys for Tots (simply press a button and watching the magic happen). Participants can choose the charity and Amaze Light Festival will donate $1 for each participant.
Amaze Light Festival is open Wednesdays through Sundays, 4-10 p.m (you choose your time slot, but VIPs can stay as long as they like), with the last ticket sold at 9 p.m. In Chicago, ticket prices start at $30 for children and $36 for adults while in the New York City location, adult ticket prices start at $44 and $36 for children.
There is the option of a VIP upgrade ($50 more) that provides reserved seating during the live performances and light shows; exclusive access to mingle with the Masters of Light, Zing and Sparky; enjoy complimentary holiday themed food items (it was Greek souvlaki from a truck when I visited), in a heated indoor lounge where you can purchase hot chocolate ($5 and $6) and premium craft cocktails.
An Amaze App provides pre-arrival information including festival maps, venue details, food and beverage menus and Frequently Asked Questions. Customers are able to purchase festival tickets and buy add-ons in real time, such as to Zing’s Thrill Hill and the Arctic Express Train Ride and use the Amaze Pay mobile wallet, a completely contactless method of payment.
If you drive, there is parking at the Southfield lot and Stadium View lot, which costs $30 per car (credit or debit card only, no cash accepted); or you can take the 7 train or the Long Island Railroad to Mets-Willetts Point.
Amaze Light Festival runs through January 8, 2023. Tickets for Chicago are available at amazelightfestival.com/chicago-tickets/and tickets for New York City are available for purchase at amazelightfestival.com/newyork-tickets/.
There are limited tickets for peak time slots and guests are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance for this limited season run. Additional information for New York City can be found in the NYC FAQ and for more information on Chicago see the FAQs.
Magic of Lights Drive-Through Holiday Festival at Jones Beach
Magic of Lights, the family-friendly holiday lights festival, is a 2.5-mile drive-through experience at both Long Island’s Jones Beach State Park and at Holmdel’s PNC Bank Arts Center nightly through December 30.
The event is produced in partnership between Family Entertainment Live and Live Nation. At Jones Beach, Magic of Lights is supported by New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and presented by NYCB.
Inside the comfort of your own vehicle, enjoy Magic of Lights’ classic holiday favorites including Winter Wonderland, the 12 Days of Christmas, Toyland, festive Elves and Reindeer Road and a 200-foot long Enchanting Tunnel of Lights.
Brand-new displays include the 32-foot-tall animated Mattel’s Waving Christmas Barbie®, Prehistoric Christmas featuring life sized dinosaurs celebrating the season and BIGFOOT® Monster Trucks. Created with over two million sparkling lights, Magic of Lights is a nostalgic and festive event everyone will enjoy.
Then, walk about the Toyota Holiday Village, featuring Santa Photos, skating, refreshments, and other holiday activities.
Magic of Lights is open Sunday through Thursday from 5 p.m. (dusk) until 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. (dusk) until 11 p.m. For dates, times, and ticket availability, visit magicoflights.com.
Admission is $25 in advance or $35 at the gate on weekdays and $30 in advance or $40 at the gate on weekends, per car. Special pricing is available for limousines and buses. Group ticket rates are available. Tickets are available through TicketMaster.com.
At Jones Beach, a portion of every entry ticket sold will support Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Foundation for Long Island State Parks.
The Magic of Lights uses the latest CAD technology and is hand-crafted at the Magic of Lights warehouse in Medina, OH, then, transported to Long Island. The displays combine for more than 10 miles of LED lighting across all presentations, in the trees, and on the buildings. There are 10 different colors of LED bulbs used. The highest scene is 32-feet tall, and the longest is several hundred feet long. The steel displays are designed, bent, cut, and welded into about 800 frames combined in different configurations to create each show’s giant winter holiday scenes.
For additional information, visit https://magicoflights.com.
Photo: The grand finale to Old Westbury Gardens’ “Shimmering Solstice” is a sound-and-light show using the 1906 Phipps mansion as a canvas © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
© 2022 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures