Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Callaway Gardens: Fantasy in Lights

Nestled amidst wooded landscape of Callaway Gardens, Fantasy In Lights is the Southeast's most spectacular holiday light and sound show with more than eight million twinkling lights celebrating the holiday season. This spectacular show has attracted almost two million visitors since it opened in 1992. Now in its 20th year, Fantasy In Lights has become an essential holiday tradition for many families, as much as a part of the season as caroling or attending "The Nutcracker." Visit once and you'll discover why.

We were invited to come down and see the Fantasy in Lights display and stay the night in the cozy Southern Pine Cottages. The Cottages were perfect for the four of us and we felt immediately at home when we checked in. Our cottage was beautifully appointed and had everything you would need to come and stay while, from pots and pans to an abundance of soft, clean towels.

After we got all settled into our Cottage and the boys got in a quick nap, we headed off to check out the Christmas Village on the Gardens grounds. The Christmas Village, a 22,000 square-foot indoor, heated area gives guests the opportunity to visit Santa and other holiday characters, or guests can shop for specialty food items from the Callaway Gardens Country Store®, unique gifts, nostalgic toys from simpler times and an assortment of holiday ornaments. An array of Georgia crafters are on hand making and selling their wares. The Christmas Village was a huge treat for us. The boys got to enjoy looking at all the beautiful ornaments and even got their picture taken with Santa!

After we had spent an hour or so checking out the Christmas Village we headed down to Robin Lake Beach where we watched the 'Twas the Night before Christmas and The Nativity scenes. These were were a spectacular light and narration show of two of everyone's most favorite Christmas stories. After that, we got ready to board our ride through the Fantasy in Light display! We got the chance to experience the light and sound extravaganza on the "Jolly Trolley" which was the best because we could all focus on the beautiful lights! You can also tour by driving through the lighted scenes in your personal vehicle, but I highly recommend the Trolley! 

This holiday season marks the 20th anniversary of Fantasy in Lights - named one of the top 48 events in the world by the Chicago Tribune - at Callaway Gardens. From Nov 18-Dec 30 this year, 8 million lights stretch across more than five miles of the gardens, creating 14 larger-than-life scenes set to choreographed holiday music. 

The sparkling, animated displays include my personal favorite: Snowflake Valley, a winter wonderland filled with enormous snowflakes and thousands of white lights; Magical Christmas Garden with a 24-foot wreath entrance; and Santa's Workshop, showcasing animated versions of Santa's elves busy making toys for the big night.

Ninety-nine percent of the frames used to create the scenes in Fantasy in Lights are custom designed and built just for Callaway Gardens, taking 3,900 man-hours to install. And in keeping with Callaway Gardens' mission of connecting man and nature, every kilowatt of power used to light up Fantasy In Lights is compensated with "green" power, the first of its kind in the south. 

Ready to check it out?

Advance ticket prices range from $16 to $22 for adults and $8 to $11 for children, with children 5 and younger always admitted for free.

Thinking about enjoying Callaway Gardens at a more relaxing pace? Overnight packages start as low as $99* per night in the Mountain Creek Inn and include:

· Fantasy In Lights admission for 4

· Inn Accommodations

· Special Jolly Trolley loading area dedicated for overnight guests

· Admission to the world-class Gardens and its many attractions including the Day Butterfly Center, Sibley Horticultural Center, Callaway Discovery Center, live Birds of Prey Shows, seven miles of nature trails and our 10-mile Discovery Bicycle Trail.

Additional package options include breakfast and a 2011 commemorative Fantasy In Lights ornament.

For traditions old and new, there’s nothing like Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens. And with great packages like these, ‘tis truly the season to celebrate!

Fantasy In Lights at Callaway Gardens is recognized as a "Top 100 Events in North America" by the American Bus Association for 2011, has been recognized numerous times by the Southeast Tourism Society (STS) as one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast, and by America's Best and Top Ten as one of the Top Three Light Shows in America. If you haven’t been, you should see for yourself!

Callaway Gardens® is in Pine Mountain, Ga., 60 minutes southwest of Atlanta and 30 minutes north of Columbus. To experience the most spectacular holiday light and show in the South, visit www.callawaygardens.com or call 1-800-CALLAWAY (225-5292).

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