Grand Illumination


Lighting Up the Outer Banks Holiday Season

Photo by Jonathan McIntoshThe holiday season is all about tradition. No matter whether a local or OBX visitor, there are several holiday events on the Outer Banks that attract everyone each year. The most favored one is the Winter Lights Festival at the Elizabethan Gardens. And best of all, the Grand Illumination is the kick-off of the holiday season on the Outer Banks. "This is without a doubt one of our favorite events throughout the year,” says Norman T. Bibeau, President, Élan Vacations. "We always urge our guests to spend some time in Manteo and attend the Winter Lights Festival.”

For 25 nights the Elizabethan Winter Lights Festival turns the beautiful gardens into a showplace of wonder, joy, lights, Christmas music and festive fun. The perfectly manicured paths are decorated with sparkly lights, twinkling stars, and silhouettes and images of traditional and religious scenes of the holiday season. From reindeer to angels to carolers in traditional Elizabethan dress, the Gardens turns into a true celebration of the season.

The Grand Illumination, held on November 30th, is the opening night of the Winter Lights Festival. From 6pm to 9pm, people from all over the area come to Roanoke Island to see this see the Elizabethan Gardens officially light up in spectacular ceremony-style tradition. Guests can meander along the paths to see all the glimmering lights, shiny stars and intricate decorations all over the entire garden maze.

In addition to the ebullient outdoors, Odom Hall is decorated in all its glory with garland, holly, adorned trees and more. Inside, guests can warm up while enjoying festive food and drinks. Carolers entertain everyone with Christmas carols and holiday tunes that everyone needs to get into the holiday spirit.

Grand Illumination brings on the start of the Winter Lights Festival that takes place throughout December and just after the first of the New Year. Along with the spectacular decorations and dazzling displays, there will be an outdoor fire on the Great Lawn for guests to warm themselves.

And for, families, Santa will make several appearances over the course of the festival. Kids can have dinner with their favorite man in red on December 13th and then make one last plea for things on their lists on December 21st. Finally, like all polite Southerners, the kids can return thank him on December 28th as he makes a final appearance before heading to the Tropics for an extended and well-needed vacation. Where else do your kids get to personally thank Santa Claus for all of their gifts?

The Winter Lights Festival is a holiday tradition for most local OBX residents. And, for those heading to the barrier islands for a quick Outer Banks vacation, the Winter Lights Festival is open Tuesday through Saturday nights (except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) making it easy to enjoy the excitement.

Click here for more information.

There is no better way to usher in the holidays than with the Grand Illumination at the Elizabethan Gardens. It is a spectacular display of lights and sights for everyone in the family. For more information on this showcase or any of our Outer Banks rentals, please call (252) 491-8787 or email us.