Just across the border from Ohio in the hilly countryside surrounding Wheeling, West Virginia is home to a spectacular holiday light display. The Festival of Lights at Oglebay Park will warm the heart of any Scrooge with lights, animation, music and a zoo.
The Park is on route 88, four miles north of Interstate 70. Use exit 2A, and follow the signs up the hill. The Festival runs from early November to early January. This is a winter festival, and there can be significant snow and icy conditions, so care should be taken on the steep hills.
Holiday Light Displays
The park features dozens of displays with millions of lights along two main roads. Many of the displays are cleverly animated, such as the paddlewheel boat and Jack-in-the Box. Be sure to catch the skier as he glides downhill, and the brilliant tunnel of snowflakes. Giant candles, a representation of the twelve days of Christmas and displays of the Peanuts gang are just a few of the many attractions.
The best way to see the lights is by car or bus. The displays are set up over a large area, and walking roads without sidewalks on a winter night is not recommended.
Although there is officially no admission for the tour, booths are set up in the road that houses the main displays, and a per-vehicle donation good for the entire season is strongly encouraged. The displays are mostly non-religious, though there is a nativity scene in the Carriage House Shopping area.
The Good Zoo in the Park has its own displays, along with the animals you would expect in a smaller zoo and a model train exhibit. Admission is required.
Holiday Ornaments and Shopping
Before or during a break from the displays is a great time to stop at the shops in the Park. The Carriage House has a Christmas Store and Glass Shop, and a new gourmet food store. A smaller Christmas store can be found at the Spiedel Golf Course, along with snack bar. There is also a small selection of golf merchandise for the weekend athlete on your list.
The Festival is open each day from dusk until 11 p.m. Crowds are largest on weekends, especially near the holiday. Be prepared to wait for a few minutes until traffic moves near the more popular displays, and please be courteous to others. Taking in the entire festival will likely take more than an hour on crowded nights, so make sure the gas tank is full.
Overnight stays can be reserved at the Wilson Lodge, but plan early for the season. Hotels and Motels are available a few miles down in the hill in Wheeling.
A trip to the Festival of Lights in Oglebay Park is a great way to get into the holiday spirit.