Camp Bethel in Lights in Wise, Va., features more than 300,000 lights long its drive-through route, which includes 22 houses decorated to look like gingerbread village. Photo courtesy of Tim C. Cox.
While Speedway in Lights at Bristol Motor Speedway may be the South’s biggest light show, there are other local displays worth checking out this holiday season.
CAMP BETHEL IN LIGHTS
Camp Bethel is a faith ministry open year-round on 160 acres in the Appalachian Mountains in Wise, Va. Every winter, staff turns the property into Camp Bethel in Lights by stringing up more than 300,000 Christmas lights to tell the story of the birth of Jesus Christ.
“Camp Bethel has been doing its Christmas light drive-through for over 16 years,” said Camp Bethel staff member Sarah Berrios. “It started out with just a couple of buildings with lights. As families began to stop by and take pictures, we decided to add more lights. It eventually grew into a tradition for many families in our region. Those that were children when we started are now bringing their families back to enjoy what they saw as a child.”
You can drive through the lights, Berrios said, but some prefer to take their time by walking. To help visitors navigate the displays, there are lights that run along the roadways. Camp Bethel in Lights exceeds 300,000 lights with 22 buildings of various shapes and sizes, giving it a mountain gingerbread village effect. In addition, there are more than 266 frames and hoops that make up the scenes and drive-through tunnels. Guests can also drive through a large Christmas tree surrounded by elves at work delivering Christmas packages.
As visitors drive by the lake, they will find 36 three-dimensional Christmas trees floating on the water. Running across the lake is an 80-foot swinging bridge all decked out in lights.
On their way out, visitors can tune into FM radio station 88.5 to enjoy a synchronized light show.
Berrios said it takes staff and volunteers more than two months to set up Camp Bethel in Lights, all while trying to keep up with their other responsibilities.
“Our purpose in doing the lights is to say ‘thank you’ to all of those in our region that make Camp Bethel a great place to be. It is also our desire to keep Christ at the center of Christmas, for He is the reason we celebrate,” she said.
Camp Bethel in Lights will be open through New Year’s Day. Hours are 6 to 9:30 p.m., Sundays through Thursdays; and 6 to 11 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays. The camp is located on 950 Camp Bethel Road.
A $5 donation is suggested, with proceeds supporting the ministry.
For more information, call (800) 359-4049, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.campbethel.com.
LIGHTS IN THE PARK
The 16th annual Lights in the Park holiday light show in Cumberland Bowl Park in Jonesville, Va., is open nightly through Dec. 31.
The whole park is decorated in lights. New displays this year include the 12 Days of Christmas.
There will be free refreshments in the Senior Citizens building. Gospel and seasonal music is played in the amphitheater, and there is an ice fountain on display.
The candlelight service on Christmas Eve starts at 5:30 p.m.
Lights in the Park is open from 6 to 9 p.m., Thursdays, and from 6 to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays.
Admission is $3 per car and $1 per person.
For more information, call the Lee County Chamber of Commerce at (276) 546-2233.
LEEMAN FIELD CHRISTMAS FANTASY LIGHT DISPLAY
The 15th annual Leeman Field Christmas Fantasy light display at Leeman Field Park in Pennington Gap, Va., is open nightly through Christmas Eve.
Christmas Fantasy is open from 6 to 9 p.m., Sundays through Thursdays, and from 6 to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays.
Christmas Fantasy has added several new displays to the more than 400 showcased in previous years.
For more information, call Faye Bocock at (276) 318-0420 or (276) 393-0451.