Woodland Lights full of nostalgia, festivities

The 21st season turns it on tonight.

Woodland Lights enters its 21st season tonight with flashing lights, as Santa’s arrival on a fire engine is heralded by a loud siren.

Then it’s off to find the angels, characters and woodland creatures that light up the half-mile wooded path.

This Washington Twp. site has been a Miami Valley holiday destination for two decades. This year, Woodland Lights has added even more lights and holiday designs.

“Woodland Lights is a place that’s magical and enchanting. Every year, we do our best to stay true to that vision,” coordinator Linda Madden said. “The front area feels more like a festival with lighting and animation. The mood at the back of the part is quieter, more pristine and emphasizes the park’s natural beauty.”

Visitors will see nine holiday window displays, interactive lights and a lookout point with panoramic views of the lights reflected in the scenic pond. Illuminated characters and critters also can be seen preparing for the holidays along the familiar trail. Another stop will be the 13th annual collection of homemade gingerbread houses.

For parents who want a quieter experience more like what they may remember from their childhood, Nostalgia Nights are offered on Dec. 9, 10, 16 and 17. Those nights will include the lights, bonfires, hot chocolate and other treats, and a visit with Santa in the historic log cabin that’s reminiscent of CandyLand.

Families who want more glitz will want to come on the other evenings, which are the Festival Nights. You can also enjoy the lights, refreshments and visiting Santa. Other activities include carriage rides, seven amusement rides and costumed characters. A new Ferris wheel has been added to the Santa swing, train and pony carts this year. There will also be musical entertainment in the log cabin on the day after Christmas.

“This is a real, historic log home that originally was located in Hillsboro, Ohio,” Madden said. “Everything about it is authentic, from the large beams overhead to the old limestone fireplace.”

Other special nights include Town Hall Theatre packages on Dec. 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22 for an extra $6 ticket to see “Jingle Argh the Way.” Free movie nights at Rec West are Dec. 7 for “Polar Express,” Dec. 14 for “Santa Paws 2,” Dec. 21 for Jim Carrey’s “A Christmas Carol,” and Dec. 28 for “The Rise of the Guardians.”

Military Appreciation Night is Dec. 9 for $1 off admission. Leashed Bow Wow Walk nights for pet owners are Dec. 10, 16 and 30.