Meadowlark Gardens Winter Walk of Lights is a .6 mile walk-through trail decorate with outdoor-themed and animated displays that make for a beautiful and fun holiday visit. One of the first professional displays to open each year (on November 10th in 2017), 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. Even when the weather is chilly, it’s fun to bundle up and experience this lovely holiday display.
Your journey begins online when you purchase timed entry tickets from the NOVA Parks Ticketfly 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 on a Monday to Thursday you can activate a $1.00 per entry discount coupon.
What You’ll Find on the Winter Walk of Lights Trail
Once you enter the grounds, you’ll follow a set path along paved walkways through the displays. The pavement makes this a stroller-friendly destination, but you will have to navigate some hills on the .6 mile walk.
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.
There are charming animated displays—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.
Not all of the animation follows the outdoor theme, but it’s all a lot of fun. At the bottom of the hill, near the pond, stop to watch the Lakeside Lights animated display set to holiday music. 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.
More Fun at Meadowlark Gardens Winter Walk of Lights
Before you reach those dripping trees, stop at the fire pit and buy a s’mores kit to finish your visit with a nice treat. (We wish we had bought a hot chocolate instead of the watery hot cider). The marshmallow toasting looked very popular with the little ones, and a selection of nice, long toasting sticks was available to keep everyone safe.
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. Or you could finish at the shop and buy a few stocking stuffers on your way out.
Families were in the majority when we last visited, but we also saw several couples (like us), and we recommend a visit even if you don’t have little ones in tow.
In 2017, the Winter Walk of Lights is open nightly from November 10 to January 7, beginning at 5:30, with last admission at 9:15.
2017 Tip: Opening week, November 10 – 16 2017, is Senior Week. Visitors 55 and over get onsite tickets for 50% off. It’s a great deal and a fun way to kick off the season so seniors, bring your ID along.
Find more local holiday fun in these articles:
- 12 Holiday Favorites from Northern Virginia Experts
- Holiday Lights in the Northern Virginia Area
- Holiday Shopping Fun in Northern Virginia
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This article was originally published in 2015 and has been updated for 2017.