It wouldn’t be Christmas in Douglas County without the Umpqua Valley Festival of Lights at River Forks Park which kicked off Nov. 18.

With more than 500,000 lights, 90 animated displays including characters from Disney’s Frozen – this journey through the park is one of the largest light displays in the Northwest and has been named as one of the top “must-see” events by Northwest Travel Magazine and The Oregonian.

From your vehicle, crank the heater, roll down the windows and be prepared to hear the “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” from the backseat. Free 3D glasses help enhance the classic experience.

For the first time, organizers have added a Wildlife Safari inspired display.

“It is basically a cheetah running through the trees at the festival,” said Brian Prawitz.

In addition to the lights, the Festival is home to the world’s largest nutcracker, Herr Woody Winterguard, standing 41-feet tall and weighing more than 16,000 pounds. Created by Willamette Valley Woodworking, the nutcracker is a beautiful spectacle of northwestern woods such as sequoia, coastal redwood, Port Orford cedar and western red cedar.

After experiencing the spectacular Festival of Lights, let it be known that it is worth hopping out for the Festival’s Holiday Village. The Rotary Club of Roseburg oversees the Holiday Village held in Helleck Hall adjacent to the light display. Organizations like Wildlife Safari, the Rotary Club, Altrusa International and others host the village on different weekends.

Holiday Village visitors will enjoy cookies, warm cider, unique arts and crafts, gifts, candies, cakes, and pies, a model train, face painting, and a collection of Santas. Children will be able to write letters to the North Pole and get a chance to meet Santa.

The festival has welcomed around 30,000 visitors each year, and has started to see spectators come from all over the northern and southern parts of the state.

Festival of Lights runs until January 1, 2018. The drive-thru is open from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday though Thursday and from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday, Saturday and holidays. The cost is $10 per car.

Wagon rides are also available for a festive way to see the lights 5:30 to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Sunday and 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights and are $5 per person.

The Holiday Village is open from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Sundays and Thursdays and 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturdays until December 24. Admission is free.

The drive-thru also has a number of special evenings with free admission including a night for veterans, BiMart, Northwest Credit Union, Rogue Credit Union, as well as a canned food night. Check the calendar online for exact days at umpquavalleyfestivaloflights.com and don’t forget your free candy cane.

Reporter Brittany Arnold can be reached at barnold@nrtoday.com

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Douglas County Family Editor | Special Sections Editor

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