Houston, Peach best lights contest returns

December 5, 2012 

For the past 10 years or so, I have picked the best Christmas lights in the area. When I say “I,” actually I mean my children, who for years have been the deciding factor on who makes it into the top 10 Christmas lights.

Since they’re teenagers now, I thought my boys would have had enough of this annual trek, but it was actually Ronnie and Scotty who asked me last week about we were going out to pick the best lights. It seems that the quest to find the best lights has become a family tradition.

Prizes have always been graciously provided by Callaway Garden, host to the award-winning Fantasy in Lights. The light show is 5 miles long and you can either drive your own car or ride through the display in an open-air trolley. The animated scenes, all custom-designed for Callaway, are set to Christmas music. My favorite has always been the breathtaking Snowflake Valley, which includes thousands of white lights, but the boys’ favorite is Santa’s Workshop, in which animated elves make toys for Santa.

Fantasy in Lights opened Nov. 16 and will be open through Dec. 30. Along with all the lights, Callaway Gardens has a Christmas village with the best Santa in the world. There is plenty of shopping and food available, as well, at the Christmas village. Two of the most outstanding of the lighted scenes are at the Christmas village on the shores of Robin Lake -- the Night Before Christmas and the Nativity. These have narration of the Christmas story along with the animation and music.

New this year are two children’s activities, Storytelling with Mrs. Claus, in which a child and a adult can hear Christmas stories and decorate cupcakes, and Build A Natural Bird-feeder, where kids can join Santa’s elves building a bird-feeder. Held at 3 p.m. Saturdays, seating is limited for the storytelling and bird-feeder activities and advance reservations are recommended.

Advance ticket prices to Fantasy in Lights range from $16 to $22 for adults and $8 to $11 for children, with children 5 and younger admitted for free. Same-day, first-available tickets are $25 for adults and $12.50 for children. Tickets can be purchased at www.callawaygardens.com or by calling 1-800-CALLAWAY (225-5292). The website will also give you information about overnight packages.

Along with the tradition of picking the top lights, our family has a tradition of always going to Callaway Gardens to see Fantasy in Lights. In fact, when we were in Hamilton last week to see the Demons play Harris County, we drove on up the mountain for a “ride by,” to see a few of the lights from the highway. There is just something about seeing Fantasy in Lights that helps reinforce that holiday spirit.

As for the top 10 lights, you can e-mail me or call me with your address and one night my family rides around and picks the top ten lights. Callaway Gardens is once again providing prizes -- tickets to Fantasy in Lights -- for the top winners. The column with the top 10 addresses will be published Dec. 19 so others will have a chance to see your lights and that the winners will have a chance to use their tickets to Fantasy in Lights.

Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or allinekent@cox.net.

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