Article by: Owen Fender

Aside from the Christmas tree stands and the festive department store music, nothing marks the arrival of the holiday season quite like the Tanglewood Lights. For many families, it is a yearly tradition, and after such a chaotic year, the joy and wonder of the holiday season are especially welcome. 2020 has been so chaotic; I didn’t even realize the holidays were here until I saw the Tanglewood Lights sign just before Thanksgiving. 

Being one of the largest light displays in North Carolina, Tanglewood draws in people from all over the state. But for those of us living around Tanglewood year-round, the sign outside of Tanglewood, and the traffic the lights bring every night, means it’s officially Christmas time. And in a year full of lost traditions and absent holidays, it serves as a reminder of what normal life is like. 

Given the need for a break from 2020 and the fact that I hadn’t seen the lights in a number of years, I decided to go last week. Surprisingly, as soon as I entered the long waiting line, the memories returned. From the squirrel jumping between trees to reindeer flying over a city made of light, it all came flooding back to me. I was reliving something that I hadn’t experienced in years; something the lights bring out in all of us. Childhood wonder. 

As I passed through all of the old lights I was familiar with, a new addition to the park became my favorite. What seemed like thousands of bells were showcased, stretching as far as I could see. Just seeing a world full of those bells of lights was magical, but the reason it was my favorite was the audio. While driving through this part of the park, you can roll down your car windows and listen as the choir of bells plays Christmas music. I felt a beautiful wall of sound, but also the crisp, cold fall air as you pass under a wall of bells. This part of the ride is short, but one that stands out as unique compared to the other parts of the park. 

I am happy to say the Tanglewood Lights festival holds up as a must-see Christmas attraction in our community, and I would urge anyone needing a break from this hectic year to just set aside a night to visit the lights with someone you love. Together, you can be reminded of what normal life is like and feel the Christmas spirit.