Updated on November 20, 2023 by Julie McCool
The annual Bull Run Festival of Lights holiday drive-through display brings cozy fun back to Northern Virginia. A perennial favorite, the Festival of Lights dazzles with a 2.5-mile drive-through display of sparkly lights.
Bull Run Festival of Lights 2023 is open from November 10, 2023, to January 7, 2024, so you have plenty of time to enjoy the holiday fun. That's an extra weekend of fun compared to last year's festival.
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We first drove through the Festival of Lights in 1997 and still consider it one of the best holiday light shows in Northern VA. For walk-thru shows, we love the Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Gardens. In fact, both of those annual events made our list of 12 Holiday Favorites from Northern Virginia Experts.
What to Expect at the Bull Run Festival of Lights
The Bull Run Festival of Lights is a drive-through display with a small carnival and holiday village at the end.
Cars slowly make their way past and under the Festival of Lights holiday and fairytale vignettes that entertain adults and wow little ones. While most of the displays repeat year-to-year, there are new scenes to enjoy, and seeing old favorites is part of the fun.
The Bull Run Festival of Lights holiday drive is an ideal family activity for even the youngest kids. The little ones stay warm and cozy as you slowly drive past the sparkly, animated displays.
We first visited with our toddlers dressed in their favorite footie jammies. Now much older, our twins still enjoy the annual tradition, though with a more critical eye and no pajamas in sight.
The lights throughout the Bull Run Festival are brighter than they were in the old days, but many of our favorite vignettes are still around. Our recent favorite is the trees dripping with holiday lights in the Winter Wonderland.
Drivers are not allowed to stop and you can not get out of your car, so be prepared to take photos as you drive. If possible, visit on an early weekday to avoid crowds. Fewer cars and headlights make for better photos and a more relaxing experience. Fortunately, most cars turn off their headlights during the drive.
Festival of Lights Holiday Carnival
At the end of the drive, visitors are welcome to stop and enjoy the Holiday Village and Carnival. The village returns for the full season in 2023 and is open every night that the drive is open.
The Holiday Village includes a small carnival with a colorful Ferris wheel and a few other rides. A walk-through light display is a great spot for family photos. Everyone can snuggle up by the bonfires and enjoy s'mores, and holiday merchandise is available for purchase.
The Bull Run Holiday Village is open November 10 to January 7, 2024, however the carnival closes after January 1. The Holiday Village occasionally closes due to inclement weather.
Bull Run Festival of Lights Holiday Tips and Logistics
November 10, 2023 – January 7, 2024
- The Bull Run Festival of Lights is open every evening. Hours are 5:30 to 9:30 Monday – Thursday, 5:30 to 10:00 Friday – Sunday, and holiday nights (11/24, Dec 24 – 25, 1/1).
- Festival of Lights holiday weekends get very busy, especially later in the season. Visit on a non-prime weekday to minimize cars and lines, and to score a nice discount. Demand is usually high so you should definitely buy tickets in advance.
- Timed entry tickets to the Bull Run Festival of Lights are $30 online and $40 at the door for a car or van (1 to 14 people) except during peak days. You only need to buy 1 ticket per vehicle.
- 2023 Discounts: Tickets are $10 off during the first two Festival of Lights weekends, November 11-12, 17-19, and Jan 2-7. Use promo code early23.
- Use promo coupon lights23 to save $5 per vehicle on select weekday tickets, Nov 20-22, 27-30, Dec 4-7, 11-14. With the discount, a family of four is only paying $6 each for the Festival of Lights holiday drive. What an excellent deal!
- Buses and large vehicles with 15 or more passengers are $75 and must be purchased online.
- Bull Run Festival of Lights is at Bull Run Regional Park, 7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville, VA 20121.
- Check the Nova Parks website to purchase tickets, for additional details, and for inclement weather closures.
Is the Bull Run Festival of Lights display part of your holiday lights traditions?
Looking for the perfect holiday gift? Read our Virginia Gift Guide now!
You'll find more holiday fun in these seasonal articles:
- Favorite Holiday Markets in Northern Virginia and the DC Region
- 10 Fun and Free Things to Do on a Washington DC Holiday Visit
- Where to Buy Christmas Trees in Northern Virginia
- Returning in 2023: DC Winter Lantern Festival in Tysons Virginia