By Nicole Heubusch
A favorite family holiday tradition is to jump into the car and drive around to look at lights. Sometimes it is not an easy task to find a decorated neighborhood, and that’s where Nights of Shimmering Lights comes in. Families can drive through over 2,000 magically sculpted light displays, illuminated tunnels and dancing LED lights while listening to holiday music.
After driving through the light tunnels, families will come across the Christmas Village where they can park their car and wander through a Christmas Wonderland. Hot chocolate is available, along with donuts, cookies and coffee. There will be holiday movies, pictures with Santa, kids crafting projects and even a toy train ride through the village.
Nights of Shimmering Lights started out with animated lights to music at a family home in Rochester, N.Y. It consisted of a mother and daughter duo, children and grandparents who all helped with the planning and implementation. The holiday light display eventually grew from 15,000 lights to 35,000 lights to over 65,000 lights.
The family moved back to Tampa Bay and brought their tradition with them. It has been going on for nine years, and this year marks the fourth year it has been held at the Hillsborough County Fairground. “Everyone in the family joins in to help with this event, from the great-grandparents to the youngest members of the family, they all want to help make the magic happen for everyone,” said Stephanie Martin, one of the founders. Volunteers and crew members spend more than 2,000 hours setting up over 1,000,000 lights for families all across Hillsborough County to enjoy. Low power usage LED lights are used for 97 percent of the displays, making this a green event.
Nights of Shimmering Lights is open now until Wednesday, December 31. Hours of operation are Sunday through Thursday from 6-9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 6-11 p.m. Monday through Wednesday the price is $15 per vehicle and Thursday through Sunday costs $20 per vehicle. The Hillsborough County Fairgrounds is located at 215 Sydney Washer Rd. in Dover.