The lights will again shine brilliantly and broadly, brightening the late fall and early winter nights as a time-honored tradition returns this holiday season in St. Albans.
St. Albans City Park will once more be the site of the 33rd annual St. Albans Festival of Lights, illuminated elaborately by hundreds of dazzling lights, handmade Christmas light displays and festive holiday decorations.
Visitors can enjoy a pre-Thanksgiving preview walk-through and hayrides this year before the Festival opens its regular evening schedule.
Specifically, the 2021 St. Albans Festival of Lights schedule is as follows:
• Tuesday, Nov. 23: Free walking tours (foot traffic only), 6 to 8 p.m.
• Wednesday, Nov. 24: Free hayrides, 6 to 8 p.m.
• Friday, Nov. 26, through Thursday, Dec. 23: Vehicular (drive-through) traffic only, 6 to 9 p.m.
The Festival of Lights will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Friday, Dec. 24, and Saturday, Dec. 25. Sunday, Dec. 26, will be the final evening of the Festival.
Weekend drive-throughs will feature a seasonal celebrity from the North Pole, albeit in a safety-minded way this year, a measure predicated last year by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re still keeping Santa at a safe distance, due to the ongoing pandemic. However, he will do his best to be on hand, waving at visitors on Friday and Saturday nights,” St. Albans Parks and Recreation Department Program Coordinator Scott Tweedy said.
Tweedy added that this year’s Festival will include many of the favorite displays from years past, along with sparkling, new attractions along the route.
“The guys are working on some new stuff,” he said, “and we’ve arranged and rearranged some things; the football goalposts, for example, have been moved down toward the entrance this year where they’ll pop more because they’re in kind of a straight stretch. About everything’s LED now, so it’s pretty bright.”
Admission to the Festival and its attractions is free every evening, although organizers will appreciate any monetary contributions or donations of nonperishable food items visitors attending care to make. Money collected will support the operation of the Festival lights, while all food collected will be directed to St. Albans area food banks for their holiday and future support. “There are about four or five food banks in the area we try to target,” Tweedy said.
The St. Albans Festival of Lights hosts an estimated 50,000 visitors annually, a decidedly labor-intensive effort for city workers and those who pitch in on the effort. “We usually start to put it together in the middle of October,” Tweedy said. “We can’t start much earlier than that, because we’re doing our Haunted Trail for Halloween at the park then. But we work it on from then until we start the festival. Out of an eight-hour work day, it’s probably consuming consuming about five or six hours a day. It takes a lot of time.”
St. Albans City Park is located at 71 City Park Road in St. Albans.
For directions to the park or to receive more information, contact the St. Albans Parks and Recreation Department at 304-722-4625, follow “St. Albans Festival of Lights” on Facebook or visit www.salights.com.