From the socially distanced holiday lights display at the Bronx Zoo to the drive-thru extravaganza known as EJDJAT in Dutchess County, with a little grooviness thrown in (there’s a drive-thru at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts) there are a lot of ways to add some pandemic-safe sparkle to your December.
Here are some options:
An underwater animal lantern scene at the Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights in 2019. (Photo: Julie Larsen Maher WCS)
Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights
The Bronx Zoo’s holiday light show runs on select dates Nov. 20 through Jan. 10. This year’s experience will be larger than in years past and organized to accommodate social distancing. There are five geographically representative lantern safaris that include species from different regions of the world.
A new Luminous Garden will feature larger-than-life plants and animals including flowers, mushrooms, butterflies and other insects. And since S’mores have been so popular, the event will have now have 12 fire pits where people can make their own s’mores or sample some created onsite.
Details: Tickets must be purchased online in advance. All guests over 3 years old are required to socially distance and wear face coverings. For a full list of COVID-19 protocols, visit bronxzoo.com
Light Arts In Wild Adventure is one of the themes at the Luminocity Festival. (Photo: Yunkai Courtesy Luminocity Festival)
Randall’s Island is transformed into a light park where visitors take a 30-45 minute walk through different themes such as “Pop Culture” which includes a dozen light sculptures of famous cat and dog influencers. There is also a Mini Gallery, which introduces the traditions and culture behind the practice of lantern-making that inspired the origin of Luminocity, and a giant Christmas Tree, the perfect backdrop for holiday photos and Instagram posts.
Details: Nov. 27-Jan. 10, from 4-10 p.m. Randall’s Island Park. Tickets and info, including transportation options to Randall’s Island, at luminocityfestival.com
NYBG GLOW, an all-new nighttime outdoor experience, will illuminate the landscape at the New York Botanical Garden on 14 select evenings, beginning Nov. 27.
With lots of room to spread out, visitors can explore a glowing world of color and light featuring the Haupt Conservatory as the centerpiece. As part of the experience, visitors can also enjoy artistic ice carving displays, roving dancers and musicians, and more outdoor fun.
Details: NYBG GLOW will take place from 5 to 10 p.m. on Nov. 27-28; Dec. 5, 12, 18, 19, 26, 27, 28, 29; Jan. 1, 2 and 9. Tickets are $30 for adults, $18 for kids ages 2-12 and must be reserved in advance. The Botanical Garden’s annual Holiday Train Show is open to members only this year. Go to nybg.org for tickets and info.
Lights shine bright at the 2019 Grand Holiday Illumination at Untermyer Park and Gardens in Yonkers, Dec. 12, 2019. The free event is open to the public nightly from 4:30 until 8 p.m. through Jan. 1, 2020. (Photo: Mark Vergari/The Journal News)
Grand Holiday Illuminations
The popular nighttime light show that embraces many secular celebrations around Christmas will return to Untermyer Park & Gardens, from Dec. 12 through Jan. 3. The Illumination will be free, outdoor, socially distanced and masked. Visitors will need timed entry ticket reservations to view the illumination. Visitors will not be allowed in the gardens without a reservation.
Details: Tickets are not yet available. Follow Untermyer Gardens on social media, or check back at untermyergardens.org. 945 North Broadway, Yonkers.
You can drive through this record-breaking light display put on by the Gay family in its Dutchess County driveway. More than 500,000 lights are synchronized to more than 260 songs. Donations from guests go to several different local charities.
The family started the light show as a present to their eldest daughter Emily in 1995, and continue to use their show as an opportunity to give back to charities.
A view of Tim Gay’s Christmas light display in LaGrangeville. (Photo: Alex H. Wagner/Poughkeepsie Journal)
This year, the Gays will be giving back to the Lewis Campbell Foundation, the Ryan McGorry Foundation and the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie. Donations will also be collected for the Union Vale Fire Department, which will then be distributed to other charities and causes.
Details: ERDJAT will run from Thanksgiving until Dec. 27 outside of the Gay family home on 8 Patrick Drive, LaGrangeville. For more information, including schedules, go to www.erdajt.com/index2.htm
Santa Claus (John Cedric Anderson) arrives in a 1964 Cadillac Eldorado owned by John O’Brien, at Kensico Dam in Valhalla, Oct. 14, 2020. This year’s Westchester Winter Wonderland at Kensico Dam will be a Drive-Thru attraction. The event kicks off Nov. 27, 2020 and runs through Jan. 3, 2021. (Photo: Mark Vergari/The Journal News)
For the first time, Winter Wonderland at Valhalla’s Kensico Dam Park, will be converted into a 1.2-mile drive-thru route for families to traverse through. The trail will have lights, holiday displays, characters, attractions, and Santa Claus. Music will programmed to patrons’ vehicles through an FM radio station.
Details: Winter Wonderland will be open most nights beginning from Nov. 27 until Sunday, Jan. 3. The experience will not be available on Nov. 30, Dec. 7, 14, 24 or 25.
Tickets are sold for time slots beginning at 6 p.m. with the last reservation slot beginning at 9:45 p.m. Tickets will be $25 per car and $40 per residential van or standard limo when purchased in advance. A $10 charge will be added to tickets sold on site and will be available on a first-come first-serve basis. www.wwinterwonderland.com
Peace, Love & Lights
Stay in your vehicle for a one-mile light display that pays homage to the history of Bethel Woods Performing Arts Center (the original home of Woodstock). Turn off your headlights and enjoy the displays which include the 120-foot Twinkle Tunnel, and theme areas including Snowflake Alley, Enchanted Forest and Groovy Way. The recommended speed is 4-5 mph which gives you ample time to ogle and listen to the holiday music — tune in to 107.7 FM as you cruise through. Check the website for related events, such as live caroling and dinners with Santa.
Details: Open every day from Nov. 23-Jan. 3. Doors open at 5 p.m. (6 p.m. on Wednesdays) and close at 10 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased on the site. Note: You can only drive-thru once per tickets, except for Two Times Tuesdays. Find info on related events, add-ons (you can buy Santa hats for all the folks in your vehicle), COVID safety rules, directions and more at www.bethelwoodscenter.org/plan-your-peace-lo atve-lights-visit. The Bethel Woods Performing Arts Center is in Bethel, N.Y
Holiday Lights Spectacular
The Orange County Fairgrounds in Middletown have been turned into a holiday spectacular with a multimedia light show, festival music and some holiday treats, all enjoyed from the socially distanced safety of your vehicle. There are thousands of lights and festive scenes placed throughout the fairgrounds. Unique light displays and specially designed animation segments along the way. Near the end, guests pull into the covered arena for a spectacular multi-media light show accompanied by popular holiday songs. Holiday treats available such as hot chocolate, eggnog, cider, cookies, Zeppoles, funnel cake and more.
Details: The Spectacular runs from Nov. 27-Jan. 3. Tickets are $20 per car online, $30 at the door. Open Thursday through Sunday 5-10 p.m., Dec. 17-Jan. 3 open daily 5-10 p.m. Buy online at www.orangecountyfair.com/pageserver/holiday-lights-spectacular
Frosty might have strolled down through the village with a broomstick in his hand, but you and yours can see a lot more at this new attraction from your vehicle. From the creative minds behind the Ulster Park Headless Horseman Hayride and Haunted House, Frosty Fest features everything from Bubbles the Christmas Bear to Frosty’s Enchanted Forest. There are lots of sparkling lights, music and more.
Details: Weekends only through Dec. 27; closed Christmas. Tickets must be purchased in advance and all ticket holders must remain seated inside their vehicle, wear a seat belt and have a face covering if vehicle windows are open. For times, price package and more info go to afrostyfest.com/schedule. Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses, 778 Broadway Route 9W, Ulster Park, NY
The Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience will be available Monday through Thursday evenings Nov. 30 through Dec. 17 at Six Flags Great Adventure. (Photo: Courtesy of Six Flags Great Adventure)
Holidays in the Park at Great Adventure
Thrill park Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey will let guests drive through its annual seasonal spectacular Holiday in the Park for the first time in 2020, letting guests enjoy the million-plus shimmering lights and other festive décor. The Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience will feature 12 areas across the 140-acre park that include live entertainment, music and plenty of lights, as well as a drive-by encounter with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Details: Open Monday through Thursday evenings, Nov. 30 through Dec. 17. Advance ticket purchases and reservations are required for the drive-through experience, with reservations available via www.sixflags.com/reserve. Admission will be free for active park members and season pass holders. Single-visit tickets are $14.99 plus tax, guests 2 and younger are free. — Alex Biese
Karen Croke is the features editor for lohud.com and poughkeepsiejournal.com. Find my stories here. Reach me at [email protected] Heather Clark, Donna Kessler contributed to this story.
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