In the Northern Hemisphere, December is the darkest month of the year. The good news is that there are thousands of tiny, twinkling lights around to keep all of our spirits up during this season of long nights and short days. The holiday light displays across the U.S. are one of the most magical sights of the holiday season. Whether you enjoy holiday lights simply by taking a walk around your neighborhood, or think it’s worth jumping in the car to check out local lights near you, holiday light viewing is a great way to enjoy the magic of the season. Bring some hot chocolate to sip on, and enjoy a Christmassy adventure for all the family!
There are several fantastic holiday light displays within driving distance from Front Royal. Read on for help planning your light-viewing outing this season.
1. Have a Wonderful Walk at Clearbrook Park
Head north of Front Royal to Clearbrook Park to enjoy Walking in a Winter Wonderland! The 0.5 mile trail is surrounded by stunning light displays with just the right holiday tunes playing to surround you in a magical experience. It’s a fun outing for all the family. Be sure to plan ahead as advance ticket purchase is required.
2. Enjoy Gardens Transformed into a Winter Wonderland
You’ll need to venture closer to the big city for this one, but if you want to see one of Northern Virginia’s Botanical Gardens transformed into a magical winter wonderland, it’s worth the trip. The Meadowlark Botanical Garden’s Winter Walk of Lights includes displays of flowers, animals, and trees, as well as seasonal holiday themes. If you need to warm up, hot chocolate and coffee are available for purchase, as well as snacks, and even cold drinks if you’re in the mood! Tickets are required: plan ahead and reserve your tickets now to avoid disappointment!
3. Cruise through Miles of Magic at the Bull Run Festival of Lights
If you want to enjoy some holiday lights from the comfort (and warmth!) of your car, the Bull Run Festival of Lights in the nearby town of Manassas is for you! Turn off your headlights and enjoy the magic of this 2.5 mile display. There’s even a special radio station you can tune to so you can enjoy seasonal music while you drive. After enjoying the light display, stop by the Holiday Village and Carnival. Here you can enjoy bonfires, s’mores, camel rides, carnival rides, and much more! Buy your tickets here.
4. Enjoy Lighting Small-town Style on Main Street, Front Royal
Though perhaps not as grand as some of the displays around, don’t forget that Front Royal’s own Main Street is picturesque during the holiday season! Take a stroll one evening and enjoy wreaths and lights on the lampposts, and a lit up tree at the gazebo.
There's also 'Front Royal Light Fight', a first for Front Royal! This is a friendly Christmas light competition promoting fellowship, fun, and community. Organized by Lori Oaks, a local real estate agent whose mission is to bring value to the communities she serves. Monetary prizes will be awarded to six winners! Check out the competitors here and mark your map to get out and view them!
Being local, you can even fit in some Christmas shopping while you’re out, or take a break and treat yourself at one of Main Street’s many fantastic eateries.
5. Get Away from it All and Gaze up at a Star-filled Sky
If you’re a lover of nature, and also looking to escape some of the crowds and hustle and bustle, why not switch out a holiday light viewing outing for a removed stargazing adventure. Mother Nature’s display of thousands of twinkling lights is more magnificent than any other! The night skies around Front Royal are dark and free of light pollution, and with Shenandoah Nation Park on our doorstep, it’s a great place to plan holiday stargazing trip for yourself or your whole family. Don’t forget to pack hot chocolate and blankets! See here for more of our tips on stargazing in the Front Royal area.
So if you’re in the Front Royal area this holiday season, there are lots of opportunities to enjoy the magic of holiday lights. Whether you’re looking for a magical walk, an enchanted car ride, a stroll in a pretty village, or the silence and majesty of a starry night sky, you’ll find it around here. Guaranteed to lift your spirits, and delight children and adults alike, an outing to see the lights could be the next staple tradition for your holiday season!
Have you ever wished you could host a party at a charming, Virginia Estate? Or dreamed of a getaway to a historic rural cabin? Walnut Hill Farm and Estate in Browntown Virginia may be the place where your dreams come true.
What Makes Walnut Hill Magical
Whether you’re planning a major event like a wedding, or looking for an intimate private getaway, Walnut Hill Farm and Estate might be just what you’re looking for. There’s lots of beautiful outdoor spaces, a large gazebo with an open stone fireplace, and plenty of room to add a tent. It all adds up to a fantastic location for a special events. Weddings, corporate retreats, family reunions and more, they’ve all happened here. You and your guests can roam through the meadows, relax by (or in!) the pond, or explore the wooded hiking trails. Don’t forget to go find the waterfall! Open up a bottle of wine and unwind around the fireplace or fire pit in the evening. Don’t forget to glance upwards; the stars here are unbelievable!
Don’t think you’ll be able to tear yourself away at the end of the day? Don’t worry! Small groups can stay overnight at Walnut Hill Farm and Estate. Book the historic John Pope Cabin for a once-in-a-lifetime experience for up to four people. The cabin, built just after the end of the Civil War, retains the historic charm of its log walls and all-wood interior, but is updated with all the modern amenities. A wood burning stove and large front porch swing add final touches to make you feel right at home.
With a quintessential farmland feel, historic buildings, and stunning vistas all around, this 500 acre piece of paradise is nothing short of magical. Read on to learn more about this special treasure, tucked away in the countryside of the Front Royal area.
There’s Plenty Going on All Around
There’s so much to do at Walnut Hill Farm that some guests may feel no need to leave. But for those who do want to get out, there’s easy access to attractions, restaurants, shopping, and more in the town of Front Royal. An easy and scenic twenty minute drive will bring you into town, where you can explore to your heart’s content. Other options: head to Shenandoah National Park, or check out one of several fantastic local wineries.
Due to icy conditions on the surrounding roads, Walnut Hill typically closes to guests each year in mid-December, reopening annually in March. So if you’re intrigued, consider this your reminder to start planning your 2022 getaway, event, or retreat. Reservations are sure to fill up quickly at this special destination. Start planning today to make sure you don’t miss out on the magic!
Every fall sees large numbers of visitors heading to the Front Royal area in pursuit of the breathtaking fall foliage vistas. But if you’re seeking nature’s glory splendor in Front Royal this year, make sure you catch the whole show! Mother Nature isn’t done after a day of drinking in the splendor of fall. There’s an equally glorious display about to come: the star-filled night sky.
There’s something about stargazing that’s good for the soul. The sight of thousands of sparkling lights coming from worlds away is one that never gets old. It’s a good reminder of how big the universe is. And how small we are.
And maybe it’s something we’re meant to see. After all, for most of human history, people everywhere enjoyed star filled skies on a regular basis. Today, light pollution has made stargazing difficult for those living in highly populated areas. That’s yet another reason to escape to the Front Royal area this fall so you can enjoy the night sky the way it’s supposed to be.
Stargazing Spots in the Front Royal Area
For those in search of the thrill of gazing at a starlit sky, there are two parks in the Front Royal area that offer particularly outstanding displays.
The first is Shenandoah National Park. Driving on Skyline Drive already makes you feel a bit closer to the sky. But for stargazers there’s still some light pollution from the towns in the valley below. To maximize your night sky viewing, head to one of the park’s top stargazing areas. The Big Meadows area is a sought-after stargazing spot, and the location of Shenandoah National Park’s formal astronomy program, which takes place on select Friday nights through the month of October. The Skyland Amphitheater is another top stargazing spot in the park. Making arrangements for a campsite,cabin, or hotel room in Shenandoah National Park is a great way to enjoy some stargazing without having to make a long trip home at night.
For more tips, see this guide to stargazing in Shenandoah National Park. The guide includes including a list of the top overlooks in the park for stargazing (with the least light pollution interference).
On the other side of Front Royal, another great option is Sky Meadows State Park. Sky Meadows offers such great night sky views, that it’s recently become an officially designated Dark Sky Park. The park typically closes at dusk, but check their schedule of events for the popular Astronomy for Everyone program. For these family friendly events, the park stays open after dark, and you can enjoy a guided stargazing experience. Or if you want a real stargazing adventure, plan on using their primitive hike-in tent camping site and spending a memorable night under the stars.
Five Stargazing Tips
If you’re sold on making stargazing part of your next Front Royal adventure, read on for a few more tips that will help make your experience great!
1.Plan with the moon in mind. The brighter the moon, the less you’ll see of the stars, as the light of the moon can drown out these smaller nights. Stargazing will be best with a new or crescent moon above you.
1.Wait for clear skies. You’ll also want to make sure that there’s minimal cloud coverage blocking your views of the stars. Choose a crisp, clear fall night (and maybe bring a mug of hot chocolate!).
1.Let your eyes get used to the dark. You may not be used to being outside after dark, but your eyes will get there quicker than you think. While it takes several hours for your eyes to completely adjust to darker conditions, major changes take place in your eyes after just ten minutes of darkness, allowing you to see better. To help your eyes adjust, avoid using flashlights or other artificial lights as possible. It’s also helpful to avoid looking at phone screens. If you must use a light, try using one that’s tinted red.
1.Stay safe. If you’re an adventurous spirit in the park after dark, you might be tempted by the idea of a stargazing hike. While hiking at night can be a fun and memorable adventure, it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll want to take added safety precautions. Don’t stray from trails at night. You may find it impossible to retrace your steps without light. Also, avoid trails with hazards such as steep drops that could be particularly dangerous in the dark. Be particularly alert for wildlife. And as always, make sure someone knows where you are going, and when you expect to return.
For more stargazing tips, see this article on stargazing in Shenandoah National Park.
There are few sights as captivating as a night sky filled with stars, or as stunning as the Blue Ridge mountains lit up with the colors of fall. Plan to enjoy both this year. A combination leaf-peeping star-gazing trip will leave you filled with awe at nature’s wonders.
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