Photos by Cheryl Landes
More than a half million lights all colors of the rainbow, 90-plus animated displays, and 3D displays and glasses. A holiday village with a tree that dances to Christmas music. Wagon rides and visits from Santa. And the World’s Largest Nutcracker.
It’s all at River Forks Park, six miles west of Roseburg, during the holidays. The lights start shining from the Sunday before Thanksgiving and continue nightly through New Year’s Day. Since 1993, the Festival of Lights has attracted more than 25,000 visitors each year and raised more than $200,000 for the local Rotary Club’s scholarships and community service projects.
The displays are among the most realistic I’ve seen at a drive-through holiday light event and beautifully designed. The range of characters and topics are also the most diverse I’ve found so far.
At the entrance, I drove through an evergreen arch wearing a big bow.
I saw a 1950s car inside an American Graffiti sign, a girl watering her flowers, the Statue of Liberty, Humpty Dumpty falling off a wall, Santa taking a bath in a wooden tub, dinosaurs, a US flag with animated fireworks in the background, and so much more.
There’s even a collage of scenes from the Umpqua Valley, Roseburg’s home.
Plus, Herr Woody Winterguard greets everyone halfway through the drive. He’s the world’s largest Nutcracker, and he even has his own Twitter account! Follow him @KingNutcracker.
On opening night, the Eugene Ballet comes to Jacoby Auditorium at Umpqua Community College to perform The Nutcracker. Tickets are sold at the door or at Northwest Lifestyles, 445 SE Jackson Street, in downtown Roseburg.
Through Christmas Eve, the Holiday Village is open at Helleck Hall, a short drive from the light display entrance. A lighted Christmas tree in the yard dances to the beat of popular tunes. Inside, there’s hot cider, cookies, candy, cake, pies, and arts and crafts that make beautiful, unique Christmas gifts or souvenirs. Santa greets and poses with visitors. The floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace is a great place to warm up on a chilly night.
On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve, you can take a wagon ride through the light display for $5. If you have a group of 10 or more, call (541) 637-5742. Smaller parties can just show up.
Hours for the Umpqua Valley Festival of Lights are 5:30-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5:30-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Admission is $10 per car. For more details, visit the festival’s website or Facebook page.