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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 12 Holiday Favorites from Northern Virginia Experts
- Holiday Lights in the Northern Virginia Area
- 2019 ICE National Harbor and Christmas on the Potomac, Gaylord Resort
- Bull Run Festival of Lights Holiday Drive-Through Fun in Northern Virginia
- Favorite Holiday Markets in Northern Virginia and the DC Region
- 2019 December Events in Northern Virginia – Festivals and Fun Near DC
- Santa Photos and Holidays at the Mall in Northern Virginia
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This article was originally published in 2015, and updated in 2018 and 2019.