Meadowlark Gardens Winter Walk of Lights Holiday Fun in Northern VA

Meadowlark Gardens Winter Walk of Lights is a beautiful walk-through garden trail decorated with thousands of sparkling lights, perfect for a fun holiday outing in Northern Virginia. The half-mile walk features  outdoor themes and animated displays spread along a paved, wheelchair and stroller-accessible trail.

Meadowlark’s Winter Walk is one of the best holiday light displays near Washington DC, whether your goal is family fun or a romantic night out. Even when the weather is chilly, it’s fun to bundle up and experience this lovely holiday lights display.

In 2019, the Winter Walk of Lights is open November 8 to January 5. One of the first professional holiday displays to open each year, it provides a nice alternative to the drive-through experience at Bull Run.

We first visited Meadowlark Botanical Gardens Winter Walk of Lights in 2014, and it’s been on our list for holiday lights fun ever since. There are new additions every year, and old favorites return.

Your journey begins online when you purchase timed entry tickets from the NOVA Parks Ticket website. Your timed ticket ensures that you’ll have a parking space, won’t have to wait in long lines, and can enter up to 30 minutes before your ticket time. If you visit Monday to Thursday you can activate a $1.00 per entry discount coupon.

Garden Lights at Meadowlark
Garden Lights at Meadowlark

What You’ll Find on the Winter Walk of Lights Trail

The walk begins in the Meadowlark Gardens Visitor Center. If you have children in your group, you might want to start at the Snowflake Shoppe where you can buy light-up necklaces, wands, and other sparkly goods. You can also pick up a Light Search activity sheet and give your kids a fun extra challenge.

Once you enter the grounds, visitors follow a set path along paved walkways that wind between displays. You can walk at your own pace and spend as long as you want at each display. This an ADA-compliant, paved trail, so it is a wheelchair and stroller-friendly destination. You will have to navigate some gentle hills on the half-mile walk.

The Fairy Garden was full of lights and fairies this year, and we heard kids squeal with delight at the new display.

Fairy Garden lights at Meadowlark Gardens
Meadowlark Fairy Garden lights

Meadowlark goes all out with sparkly decorations, many of which follow a garden and woods theme. The large, extensively light-wrapped trees set an impressive backdrop for the smaller displays. More traditional holiday scenes are sprinkled among the outdoor themes.

Grasshopper at Meadowlark Gardens Winter Walk
Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights grasshopper
Bears and other wildlife holiday lights at Meadowlark Gardens in Northern Virginia
Bears and other wildlife holiday lights at Meadowlark Gardens
Field of pumpkin lights at Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights
Field of pumpkin lights at Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights

Meadowlark has set up several places to take sparkly holiday photos, including a pretty butterfly and several spots with benches. However, you’ll need a camera that can capture both lights and people.

Butterfly photo spot Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights
Butterfly photo spot Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights

There are charming animated displays throughout. Bees flit around a hive in the flower garden. A squirrel shakes his tail in a tree. A hummingbird lights on a flower and flies away. Fish and frogs jump in a light-filled stream.

Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights animated hummingbird
Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights animated hummingbird

At the bottom of the hill, near the pond, stop to watch the Lakeside Lights animated display set to holiday music. Here, an open area give kids a chance to run off a little energy.

Further on, you’ll walk through a nicely lit tunnel, and near the walk’s end you pass under trees that appear to be dripping with stars.

Meadowlark tunnel of lights
Meadowlark tunnel of lights

Before you reach those dripping trees, stop at the fire pit and buy a s’mores kit, hot chocolate, or cider to finish your visit with a nice treat. Marshmallow toasting is popular with the little ones, and a selection of long toasting sticks is available to keep everyone safe.

Pick up a treat at the S'mores Snack Shop
Pick up a treat at the S’mores Snack Shop
Meadowlark Gardens Winter Walk of Lights path
Meadowlark Gardens Winter Walk of Lights

Families are in the majority when we visit, but we also see several couples (like us) enjoying the show. We highly recommend the Winter Walk of Lights, even if you don’t have little ones in tow.

Meadowlark Gardens Holiday Tips and Logistics

  • The 2019 Winter Walk of Lights is open nightly, including major holidays, from November 8 to January 5.
  • Hours are 5:30 to 10:00 pm, with last admission at 9:30.
  • Timed entry tickets are required, and are cheapest if you purchase online. 2019 online tickets are $8 for ages 2 to 12, $14.50 for ages 13 and older. At the door tickets are $11 for ages 2 to 12, $17 for ages 13 and older. Discounts are available for groups of 20 or more.
  • The Walk of Lights is open rain or shine, except in extreme weather. Tickets can not be refunded, but they are transferable to a different date.
  • Pets are not permitted, except for service animals.
  • Find more information on the Meadowlark Gardens website.

Plan more local seasonal fun in Northern Virginia with our holiday guides:

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Meadowlark Gardens Winter Walk of Lights in Northern Virginia is a beautiful holiday light displays perfect for a fun night out close to Washington DC

Meadowlark Gardens Winter Walk of Lights in Northern Virginia is a beautiful holiday light displays perfect for a fun night out close to Washington DC

This article was originally published in 2015, and updated in 2018 and 2019.

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11 thoughts on “Meadowlark Gardens Winter Walk of Lights Holiday Fun in Northern VA”

  1. Pingback: AHS alum lights up faces one bulb at a time – The A-Blast
  2. The walk is not long but you can extend your visit by stopping along the way and making s’mores at the end (plus we walked it twice.) Wish it had been around when our kids were small. Have fun with your in-laws!

    Reply
  3. My inlaws are visiting for the holidays and this sounds like a festive outing! I had heard of it before but didn’t know if it was really worth checking out. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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