It just doesn’t feel like it’s time for Christmas until you can see some lights. But who wants to be the one to put them out in their own backyard? McDonald’s has that covered in Virginia Beach so you don’t have to. They’re the sponsor of the Holiday Lights, after all, a budding Virginia Beach tradition that draws over 30,000 families each year. Starting on November 20th, the entire Oceanfront becomes a winter wonderland to rival the North Pole. From the boardwalk to the beach, the lights are clear as anything during the night, twinkling above and below and all over. A fantastic amount of work goes into the display each year, and yet it’s never managed to underwhelm. The Southeast Tourism Society has even named it one of their “Top 20 November Events,” putting it above other popular parades and festivals to ring in the holiday season.
There’ll be displays in each of the parks along the boardwalk between 2nd and 34th street, featuring not only familiar Christmas characters, but the aquatic creatures native to the land. King Neptune welcomes not only members of his kingdom at the resort area, but plenty of new winter-only pals. Santa, his elves and a 40-foot tall tree erected on the beach join dolphins, fish and porpoises. The show has never been the same twice, however. Each year new displays are added and old ones retired, colors changed and arrangements tweaked. This is what has families gathering year after year, and tourists from out of town filling up the hotels.
In fact, hotels on the beach offer special packages now, making it a better time than ever to plan a vacation around the event. Many of them offer free tickets to the show, and drivers working for the hotels will even escort you around the lights, tuning into Christmas music as they do. It’s a great way to experience the show without getting lost in the crowd. Considering all the other events going on around the same time, it’s worth the package price.
And then there’s the newest addition to the lights festival, Santa’s Seaside Village. Located at Atlantic and 30th Street, the village hosts a secret workshop, children’s crafts, shops, and amusement rides. There are winter-themed photo ops, storytellers, carolers, and plenty of local artisans and food vendors. Then, to put a Virginia Beach spin on the North Pole, Santa will be signing autographs and taking pictures in his new beach cabana. He’s a lot more relaxed and taking a well-deserved vacation of his own in preparation for the big day, so catch him while he’s particularly jolly.
When are you ever going to find resort beach life mixed with winter wonderland? If you’re in the area around the 20th, it’s definitely worth checking out.