Last Christmas season, we ventured up I-85 to Buford, Georgia to see the Lake Lanier Lights at the Magical Night of Lights at Lake Lanier Islands Resort. I’ve been wanting to check out their holiday events, so when I received an invitation from the marketing folks to visit, I packed up the boys and headed to Lake Lanier, Ga. and the Lake Lanier Resort. Last weekend, the youngest and I made a return trip to see the Lake Lanier Lights.
Lake Lanier Lights: A Christmas Lights Show
We opted to visit the Holiday Village first, do the carnival rides and ice skating while it got dark outside and then finish up in the warm car with the lights. Even though we were later than I had hoped getting to Lake Lanier, we were able to park close and walk right on to all the rides. In fact, until about 7 pm, it felt like our own private carnival with beautiful drive through Christmas lights.
Lake Lanier Christmas
We began the night with me riding with my youngest and the two older boys doing all the rides together, which is typical. However, as we ventured back to the carnival for a few last rides before heading out, it was my youngest and oldest bonding over flipping carts and spinning contraptions, which brought a smile to my heart.
By far our favorite activity was the ice skating at the Coca-Cola Ice Skating Rink. We skated for over an hour, which surprised me a bit, especially with the little one, who always seemed to be totally out of control arms and legs going every which way, yet fine, all at the same time. In 2016, Lake Lanier replaced the real ice rink with a plastic skating surface. Our family did not find this as fun, it’s bit harder to actually skate on the plastic surface. The good news is you don’t get cold falling down. Smaller kids will enjoy skating through the bubble machines.
We breezed through the shopping to warm up a bit, have our picture taken with Santa and secure some s’more fixings for the fire pits outside.
Lake Lanier Christmas Lights
The live nativity is in a different location than the carnival and Winter Adventure, but it is a stop along the lights route. Be sure to catch this production. If you aren’t into the live animals there is a manger scene in bright lights along the driving route.
I’m not much for sponsored lights, but the Medieval Times jousting knights was pretty great. The light display is quite extensive. We especially enjoyed the Wizard of Oz sections. Before you head through the ticket booth, be sure to tune your radio to the special Magical Night of Lights radio station. The audio makes the lights even more festive. It’s free and had us singing Christmas tunes all the way home.
Play in the Snow at the Lake Lanier Christmas Lights
Unfortunately, it was raining on our return trip to the Lake Lanier Christmas lights. We did take a look at the huge sledding hills and vowed to come back another day. It intrigued me how they created the snow experience in warm Georgia. The sled hills are white carpets. You slide down on tubes, just like you would in the snow. We are looking forward to trying them out later in the season and will report back. Note: We did the sledding hill and it was AWESOME!! The steep slope means you go fast, plus you don’t get all wet in the snow and you don’t need a cold day to be able to enjoy tubing.
Tips for the Lake Lanier Lights at the Magical Night of Lights at Lake Lanier Islands Resort, Lake Lanier, Georgia
1. Use Coupons. Lake Lanier Island Magical Nights of Lights is magical, but it’s also expensive. Take advantage of coupons available at partner locations: Publix, Chik-fil-A, McDonalds, QuikTrip, and Goodwill. However, your best deal is to purchase your ticket online before you go and check out the winter promos. Be sure to follow Lake Lanier on social media for discount announcements.
2. Magical Lights and Winter Adventure Pricing. Perhaps it’s because I’m used to just the Magical Lights, but pricing confused me. The entire experience, the Lake Lanier lights, carnival, live nativity, shopping and snow adventures are all part of the Winter Adventure. There is a gate fee per carload to enter the park. This price includes the Magical Lights, access to LanierWorld to visit Santa, watch movies on the Spectacular Screen or visit the gift shops, restaurants and snack bars. If you would like to participate in the snow tubing runs, winter play areas, and carnival rides you’ll need to purchase an additional wrist band. Often parents will just buy the wristbands for the kids, so they can play, because it’s free to watch. Packages are available.
3. Bring your own. There are picnic tables at the Holiday Village at Lake Lanier and lots of different choices for food and treats. To ease the burden on your wallet, pack a picnic, including a thermos of hot chocolate and s’more fixings for the huge fire pits. You’ll get all the ambiance without all the expense.
4. Go early. As in early in the season and early in the evening. It’s less expensive, but it’s also less crowded, which I find especially important on the ice skating rink if you have kids who aren’t experienced skaters. My children are off the entire week before Christmas, so we visited on a Tuesday afternoon. There were no lines at all and the kids were able to ride the carnival rides, the sledding hill and play in the snow area without waiting. The line for Santa can get really long too, so see the lights just after sun set and then do the photo with Santa as soon as you arrive at the Village, or go during daylight hours to see Santa, then do the lights.
5. Dress Warmly. It can get really cold spinning through the air on the carnival rides. My son thought a simple sweatshirt would do, but as the night wore on, he got cold and wanted to leave well before the others were ready.
6. Tune In. When you stop to pay at the entrance gate, change your radio station to the Lake Lanier Lights station. It’s a mellow Pandora-like station of holiday tunes to get you into the spirit. It had us singing out loud all the way home.
7. Go tubing at Lanier World. During the winter months, the summertime water park at Lake Lanier Island, Lanier World, is transformed into Snow World, Lake Lanier. We’re talking thirteen snow sledding lanes, five slides that have been converted into thrilling speed rides, and four snow play areas. With so much to do, you may want to plan to spend the night at the Legacy Lodge Lake Lanier or at one of the hotels in Buford, Ga. Note: The snow activities at Lake Lanier Islands requires a wristband that is purchased separately from your gate fee. (Magical Nights of Lights is per carload)
Staying at Lake Lanier Islands
To make a visit truly magical, speak the night at the Lake Lanier Resort. Although we have not done this, we asked the PR folks for some tips, and here is what they said.
When you stay at the resort, your front gate fee (which is for the magical lights and everything else excluding the rides) is free. Many people rent a golf cart to ride around and look at the lights before stopping down at the rides for Winter Adventure.
If you stay at the Lodge, we have the Polar Express Trolley for $5 per person which does a tour of the lights as well in the evenings. (Only those staying at the Lodge can ride the Polar Express)
Resort guests also have access to Legacy Kids at the Lodge where kids can decorate cookies, watch a children’s movie, etc. Many staying at the Lodge will also book Breakfast with Santa or an Elf Tuck-in during their stay.
What: Magical Nights of Lights
Where: Lake Lanier Islands, Resort, 7000 Lake Lanier Islands Pkwy., Buford, Ga. 30518 | 770-945-8787
When: Nov. 16 – Dec. 31, 2016 | Magical Lights is open 5 pm – close. Winter Adventure opens at 11:30 am and is open until Feb. 13
Christmas Lights in Georgia
Looking for more Christmas lights in Georgia? Thinking – Where are the best Christmas lights near me? We have a post that will answer your question Where is a great Christmas light show near me?
We were given tickets to see the Magical Nights of Lights at Lake Lanier Islands. However, all opinions are our own and we were not asked to write a post about our experience.