BY: Tana Christian Suggs
What’s more magical than a Christmas tree filled with twinkling holiday lights…or a house decorated with bright, colorful lights trimming the eaves and lining the windows and doors making the ordinary home look like a house made of gingerbread?
Perhaps one of the most treasured memories of Christmas is the wide eyes of children as they take in the wonder that comes with seeing the glow of beautiful holiday decorations in the bright flicker of holiday lights. And what better place to see holiday lights than the Magical Nights of Lights at Lake Lanier Islands.
Since 1993 area residents have been loading up their vehicles with family and friends of all ages and making the short drive to see the Magical Nights of Lights, and many have made the experience an annual holiday tradition. Kate Davis, marketing and public relations coordinator for Lake Lanier Islands Resort, said Greg Fullwood of Universal Concepts brought the idea for Magical Nights of Lights to the Islands, and partnered with the resort to create the “ever-evolving and exciting holiday event” Steve Brodski added the name to the event, what is now known as – “Magical Nights of Lights.” And in the past ten years of holding the magical holiday tradition, the event has grown.
Jay Hughes, an employee of the Islands for 26 years, said the first show had only 40 displays featured. Now the event features more than 730 displays. Since those earlier years, the event now incorporates more interactive features such as the Holiday Village that includes the Holiday House, a carnival with rides and games, fire pits for roasting marshmallows, a fudge shop, pictures with Santa, ice skating, holiday shopping, and all the holiday treats one can imagine!
To get such a big production ready in time for opening night on November 15, Hughes along with 20 other people on the operations team start setting up the lights as early as late August/early September, about 10 weeks to unpack, test, and set up the 730 displays.
“You know, we probably have more than a million bulbs in our displays and they have a life-span of about two years, so every year we switch out half of the incandescent bulbs,” Hughes said.
That’s a lot of bulbs! In the end all the work is worth the effort. Davis said one of the most rewarding things is to see families come back year after year, creating a family tradition out of the show.
“It truly is a wonderful event for the whole family,” she said. “People who grew up coming to Magical Nights of Lights are now returning with their children to experience the show.” Known for “miles of millions of twinkling lights,”
Davis said the Islands are excited to share the tradition of lights with families from all across the southeast. On a personal note, Davis said just last year she came to Magical Nights of Lights with her own family and her younger cousins.
“It was such a fun time for all of us,” Davis recalled. “I went shopping in the Holiday House with my mom and sister, while my dad went zip lining through the lighted trees and my cousins rode the carnival rides for hours. We all went ice skating at the new Verizon Wireless Ice Rink and made s’mores on the huge fire pits, while watching the dancing lights on top of the Holiday House. It was such a fun time to get out during the holidays and a great opportunity to create memories with my family.”
Magical Nights of Lights will be held Nov. 15 to Dec. 31. For more and up to date information, check out the calendar at lakelanierislands.com for hours of operation and other exciting promotions throughout the season. ■