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Tips for Best Holiday Light Shows

For those looking for a little sparkle this holiday season, several local outlets have prepared various lists of the top destinations in the District area to see winter lights displays, parades and other festive happenings.

Topping NBC News Washington’s list is ZooLights at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Northwest where live music, winter treats, holiday shopping opportunities and the chance to walk through the illuminated wonderland of more than 500,000 environmentally friendly LED lights will be available through Jan 1.

The Festival of Lights at the Mormon Temple in Kensington, Maryland also made the list. The Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints hosts its spectacular Festival of Lights each year, when temple grounds are covered with 650,000 lights and a life-sized nativity scene.

Nightly performances include solo artists, groups, bell ensembles, choirs and orchestras.

Also through Jan. 1, Georgetown GLOW, an outdoor light exhibition, will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly. The exhibition features dazzling displays throughout the neighborhood as revelers are encouraged to “bundle up and take a walk through the night.”

Seneca Creek State Park plays host to Winter Lights Festival in Gaithersburg through New Year’s Eve. Tickets range from $12 to $70, depending on the size of the vehicle.

Those driving through the 3.5 mile illuminated light show are promised to see a display that features more than 380 illuminated displays and 65 animated vignettes that “light up the night.”

Not to be outdone, Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland, hosts Garden of Light, which features 1 million colorful lights through Jan. 1.

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia, features more than 1 million lights of its own along a more than half-mile path that includes many animals and a fire pit.

In Columbia, Maryland, Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods presents the Symphony of Lights Drive-Through which takes places nightly from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. through New Year’s Day.

More than 100 light displays use color, design and animation to enchant guests on their trips through the Symphony of Lights. This year, visitors will find new LED lights, new displays, a laser light show and a 3-D holiday video. Tickets are $20 and $25 with proceeds earmarked to benefit Howard County General Hospital.

Through Jan. 8, the Bull Run Festival of Lights takes place in Centreville, Virginia, and features a drive-by display of 40,000 lights, Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, elves, penguins and more. Prices range from $15 to $25 per car.
For an extensive list of holiday lights and displays in the region and dates, times and admission prices, visit the travel website About at www.dc.about.com/od/holidaysseasonalevents/a/christmaslights.htm.

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Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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