LightUp Fest Northern Virginia

LightUp Fest Northern Virginia: Lantern Festival Comes to DC Area

LightUp Fest brings new holiday fun to Northern Virginia with dramatic and beautiful Chinese lanterns and modern light displays. The festival features 77 installations and over one million lights in the largest light display in the Eastern U.S. Entertainment, interactive exhibits, and unique craft booths round out the holiday fun.

Entry to LightUp Fest Northern VA

Entry to LightUp Fest Northern VA

Lucky Northern Virginians experienced the beauty of Chinese Lantern displays at the 2016 holiday show at Roer’s Zoofari. In 2018, Chinese artisans return to the DC area with the larger and more dramatic LightUp Fest, at One Loudoun in Ashburn, Virginia.

LightUp Fest Northern Virginia Displays and Activities

The outdoor, walk-through LightUp Fest fills 20 acres with themed light displays. The scale of many structures is impressive. From the castle-like entryway to the replica of the U.S. Capitol Building, many structures feel almost full size.

Capitol Building display at LightUp Fest NoVA

Capitol Building display at LightUp Fest NoVA

Brightly lit and themed walkways lead between major areas of the exhibit. We especially like the traditional lanterns hanging above “bamboo” trees over one walkway.

Chinese Lanterns LightUp Fest Northern VA

Chinese Lanterns LightUp Fest Northern VA

Many displays include a mix of traditional Chinese lantern art and more modern components. For example, the dinosaur display includes a giant, roaring, animatronic T Rex next to beautifully lit lantern volcanos and palm trees.

Dinosaurs at LightUp Fest Northern Virginia

Dinosaurs at LightUp Fest Northern Virginia

A tall pagoda stands in the midst of the festival grounds, and several colorful displays depict Chinese cultural traditions. Themed areas include animal displays, the Statue of Liberty, and more. Don’t miss the giant T Rex made of recycled plastic bottles.

Chinese [pagoda LightUp Fest NoVA

Chinese [pagoda LightUp Fest NoVA

T Rex made of recycled bottles at LightUp Fest NoVA

T Rex made of recycled bottles at LightUp Fest NoVA

Music plays at many displays with mixed effect. Oddly scary music plays near the Capitol Building and some speakers were just static. The displays, however, are lovely and definitely picture-worthy.

Dragon and Capitol LightUp Fest NoVA

Dragon and Capitol LightUp Fest NoVA

More LightUp Fest Activities

Lantern displays are the main draw, but there are more activities and fun on hand. Entertainers perform on a large stage at one corner of the festival. We heard two bands and watched acrobats perform during our visit.

Acrobats perform at LightUp Fest 2018 in Northern Virginia

Acrobats perform at LightUp Fest 2018 in Northern Virginia

Near the stage, Chinese artisans create traditional artworks in a row of booths. Hand-cut greeting cards, featuring gorgeous fold-out vignettes, were especially impressive. Sugar puppet making, calligraphy, portrait sketching, and rice carving are also offered. You could buy some truly unique holiday gifts from the Chinese artisans.

Chinese artisan with hand-cut cards at LightUp Fest NoVA

Chinese artisan with hand-cut cards at LightUp Fest NoVA

Sugar artisan at LightUp Fest NoVA

Sugar artisan at LightUp Fest NoVA

A row of food trucks next to the artisan booths sell food and treats. At the back of the festival is a small midway with carnival rides (extra ticket purchase required).

There are also free, interactive play areas inside the festival. A set of swings, light-up stepping stones, climb-on panda bears, a giant Lite Brite, and a (muddy) maze all offer fun for kids young and old.

Pretty light-up swings at LightUp Fest NoVA

Pretty light-up swings at LightUp Fest NoVA

Get lost in the light maze LightUp Fest NoVA

Get lost in the light maze LightUp Fest NoVA

Tips for Your Visit to LightUp Fest Northern VA

LightUp Fest Northern Virginia is open 5:30 to 10:30 PM daily, November 10 to January 2, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.

Admission to LightUp Fest is $29.99 13 and up; $19.99 3 to 12; $24.99 for students with college ID and seniors 65+; free under 3. Active military personnel can enter free on Tuesdays (family members require tickets). Tickets are not timed, and can be used for entry on any day or time.

  • Dress warm and wear shoes that can get muddy. This is an outdoor display and there are no indoor areas to escape the cold.
  • LightUp Fest is located in an unpaved section of One Loudoun. The ground is uneven and can get quite muddy. While gravel and rubber pathways wind through the displays, you may still encounter wet or muddy areas.
  • Check the LightUp Fest Facebook page for inclement weather closures. The festival is likely to close during snow, heavy rain, and extreme cold/wind.
  • LightUp Fest is located in One Loudoun, at the intersection of Loudoun County Parkway and Route 7. There is plenty of room for visitors and parking is free.
  • Turn your visit into a mini-getaway with a stay at Lansdowne Resort. The resort makes a great base for visiting the festival and other fun Leesburg destinations.
  • Find additional information at the LightUp Fest website.

LightUp Fest 2018 is a welcome addition to Northern Virginia holiday fun. This is one of the most spectacular light displays in the Washington DC area, perfect for a holiday family outing or date night.

LightUp Fest Northern Virginia

LightUp Fest Northern Virginia

You’ll find more holiday light displays and fun in these related articles:

Follow Fun in Fairfax VA on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram for more fun things to do, place to visit, and special events in the Northern Virginia area.

We attended LightUp Fest as media guests. As always, all text, photos, and opinions are our own.

LightUp Fest Northern Virginia holiday fun near Washington DC

Tags: , , , ,

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Holiday Lights in the Northern Virginia and Washington DC Area - November 16, 2018

    […] LightUp Fest, One Loudoun, Nov 8 – Jan 2 […]

  2. November 2018 Events in Northern Virginia - Fun in Fairfax VA - November 16, 2018

    […] LightUp Fest, One Loudoun, Nov 8 – Jan 2 […]

  3. December 2018 Events in Northern Virginia - Fun in Fairfax VA - November 27, 2018

    […] LightUp Fest at One Loudoun, Ashburn, Nov 8 – Jan 2 […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: