I didn't count them when I visited in 1999, but promoters responsible for the original Hartford Holiday Light Fantasia drive-through display of magical, illuminated scenes claim that there are one million lights glowing in downtown Hartford, Connecticut's Goodwin Park. That puts this two-mile holiday extravaganza in serious competition with nearby Bright Nights in Springfield, Massachusetts. And it also outshines the Holiday Lights show at Bristol, Connecticut's Lake Compounce amusement park, which has been illuminated for the first time in 2012 with hundreds of thousands of lights.
It's tough to say definitively which is New England's largest holiday light display. What's easy, though, is to suggest that you see at least one of these glittering holiday wonderlands before the season is over!
In 1999, Associated Events L.L.C. and many Hartford city and corporate sponsors contributed to the $500,000 transformation of Goodwin Park for the first Hartford Holiday Light Fantasia. After a three-year hiatus, this beloved holiday tradition returned in 2011 thanks to promoter Frank Maratta's generous decision to donate the light displays and equipment to Channel 3 Kids Camp, which will use proceeds from the event's run to fund year-round programs for children.
Among the spectacles that visitors will see at this light extravaganza are a 20-foot high gingerbread house, a 30-foot tall Holiday Castle and the Statue of Liberty.
With Bruce at the wheel, I was able to photograph the sights and lights as we drove through Hartford Holiday Light Fantasia, and I'll take you on a photo tour that's sure to put you in the holiday spirit. But get there yourself if you can! The show runs every night this holiday season from November 17, 2012 through January 6, 2013. You'll be mesmerized by the dozens of dazzling displays, and, with your radio tuned to the suggested frequency, the holiday music and warm glow of one million lights is sure to make for a fun family outing that might just become an annual tradition.
And if you can't get to Hartford... Click here to join me on a virtual holiday adventure!
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Photographs by Kim Knox Beckius, © 1999, licensed to About.com, Inc.