This post was written in 2012, so some information may be out of date. Please visit their site for the latest event details.
One of my favorite holiday activities is driving through a holiday light display. You get all snuggled up in your warm car, bring along a hot beverage, and enjoy the sights and sounds of this time of year. While there are several holiday light displays close to home, I have never seen a display quite like this one.
Bright Nights is held right over the state line in Springfield, Massachusetts. To get there from Connecticut, you just take I-91 into Massachusetts and then take Exit 2. After you get off the exit, it is just a few quick turns before you will see the entrance to Forest Park on your right.
Now this destination is a bit of a hike, the ride from West Hartford took us about 40 minutes. We left the house around 4:30 pm and got there a little after 5:00 pm. My sister and my niece were in town visiting, so we decided to go on a random Wednesday night during the first week in December. We were able to use the HOV lane on I-91 to avoid the 5 o’clock traffic coming out of Hartford and we had no traffic off 91 as we made our way to the park. I am assuming that on the weekends and especially as we get closer and closer to Christmas, there may be a lot more traffic to deal with. Looks like they do post information about wait times on their Facebook page, if you want to take a look.
As we pulled into the park, we were immediately greeted by someone from Bright Nights who welcomed us and collected our entry fee.
The cost was $18 per car, plus I had printed off a $3 coupon from their website, so we paid $15. The pricing is different on the weekends and there are discount passes also available at Big Y, so make sure you get all the details in the Momsense section below. We paid in cash, but the website does state that all major credit cards are accepted.
They gave us our entry ticket, a brochure with a map of the park, a coupon for $5 off our next visit to Bright Nights this season, and asked us to put on our running lights. They also told us to tune our radio station to 98.5 FM for holiday music to enjoy during our ride.
After we made it through the entrance, we were greeted by beautiful light displays. But before we could enjoy all the park had to offer, we needed to make a pit stop. Now, I know that sign specifically says “no stopping”, but we were going to have to break the rules, the baby was very hungry. We found a safe place to park and my sister got the kids their dinner while I nursed the baby.
After everyone was settled, we scooted right back in with the caravan of cars and were on our way.
Now, the Bright Nights holiday light display is simply amazing. It is three miles long and includes a variety of themes. I think my favorite was Seuss Land, but Toy Land was a close second. There is even a section where the light displays are built around a pond and you can see their beautiful reflection. Here are a couple of snapshots that my sister took for me during our drive.
There are also a lot more (and much better) photos of the displays on the Bright Nights website.
About halfway through the drive (right after you get through Seuss Land) you can make a stop to see Santa Claus. You will see it on your left and there is a big Santa light display pointing you in the right direction (sorry for the extremely blurry photos!)
Not only is there an opportunity to visit with Santa here, but you can also grab some snacks and drinks, and even do a little holiday shopping.
While I got the kids out of the car, my sister ran over to the Snack shack and snapped a few pictures of what they have to offer. There is a walk up window where you can order everything from hotdogs to hot cocoa. We had brought our own snacks for this trip, so we didn’t buy anything, but this might be a fun place to get the kids a treat.
If you need to use the restroom, there was a long line of porta-potties right by the parking area. Though, using a porta-potty on a cold winter night would not be fun!
Directly across from the snack building, was the path to Santa’s house. It isn’t a very long walk, you so don’t necessarily need a stroller.
There was a mailbox outside the house where the kids could place their letters to Santa. Inside the house were some holiday treats for purchase, plus the big man himself. The inside of the house is very small, so I have a feeling that on busy nights, you will be lined up outside. I would just suggest dressing accordingly.
There was a photographer available for pictures with Santa if you were interested. They had several package options available, with the least expensive one being $19.99 for two 5×7’s. That is what we chose to get. They also will email you the picture and you can download it. For some reason, though, I couldn’t get the download to work, so I took a picture of my picture to add to the post . . .
After meeting with Santa, we got the kids back in the car and finished the rest of the drive. It took us about 45 minutes or so to do the drive and visit with Santa. I was enjoying it so much that I was sad when I saw the sign telling us that it was time to turn our lights back on as we had reached the end. I’m hoping that we will be able to make it for a return visit before it closes January 1st.
So, if you are looking for one of the best holiday light displays around (it was even listed by Yahoo! Travels as one of “America’s Best Places for Holiday Lights“), then grab your hot beverage, pack up the kiddos, and head to Bright Nights in Springfield.
Forest Park, Springfield, Massachusetts
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/brightnightsatforestpark?fref=ts
From CT: Exit 2 off I-91 North, (Rt. 83/Forest Park/East Longmeadow). Straight through first light. Right at next light onto Rt. 83 South. Straight through two lights. Forest Park is on the right.
November 21, 2012 – January 1, 2013
Open Daily (as of December 5th)
Sunday – Thursday 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Friday, Saturday, and Holidays* 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
*Holidays include: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day
Price is per vehicle.
All major credit cards are accepted.
Monday – Thursday, $18
Friday – Sunday and Holidays, $21
A coupon for $3 off the entry fee is available on their website.
Discounts are also available at Big Y
Pictures with Santa start at $19.99 for two 5×7’s
- A variety of activities are available during the season including Supper with Santa.
- Horse drawn wagon and carriage rides are available at the park Friday – Sunday. Prices are $7 for adults and $5 for children under 12.
- Santa will only be available until December 24th at 8:00 pm
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