Thanks to LightUP Fest for inviting us on a media preview!
By Patricia Hall, Fairfax Family Fun
LightUP Fest, the largest lights festival on the East Coast, is brightening the holiday season at One Loudoun in Ashburn, Virginia. The season-long festival brings dozens of installations, with more than one million lights, to One Loudoun in Loudoun County November 8, 2018 through January 2, 2019.
The culture-rich lights exhibit that combines traditional Chinese lanterns with modern lighting technology, for an illuminated art walk-through experience.
The exhibition spans 20 acres on land adjacent to the main One Loudoun retail area and features iconic buildings, animal and nature scenes, Christmas displays, and more. Attendees also can watch daily entertainment on stage, take part in interactive craft activities, enjoy a few carnival rides, and shop for art, toys, and food in a small market area.
The exhibition is the largest light display on the East Coast and has 77 stunning, differently-themed installations. The exhibit’s four major themes are Tour of Fantasy, Freedom America, Mysterious East, and Magical World.
On display are dinosaurs, elephants, a pagoda, a ship, dragons, a giant peacock, pandas, giraffes; plus replicas of the United States Capitol, Eiffel Tower, and Sydney Opera House; and more.
Beyond walking around to see the installations, guests can walk through an illuminated maze made up of lanterns, do some spinning on stationary bicycles to power up some displays near the entrance, and make their own art on a giant “Lite Brite.”
By far the most enjoyable activity for the kids (and adults!) in our group was swinging on giant circular plastic swings that light up. There are two sets of these and it was great fun to swing on them to watch the surrounding displays while you yourself became a display as your swing changed colors.
Look for the signs around displays for information on each installation. That’s how we learned the Tyrannosaurus Rex in the back is made from almost 10,000 recycled soda bottles!
LightUP Fest has daily performances from acrobats, dancers and musicians, and shows are included with admission. In addition, the interactive craft and art section will showcase the intricate culture and tradition of craftsmanship with hands-on activities such as sugar puppet making, calligraphy, portrait sketching and rice carving for all age groups to participate in.
Admission to the event is $29.99 for an adult and $19.99 for kids ages 3-12. Children under 3 are free. A portion of the proceeds will go to Arc of Loudoun. There are discounted family packages and special rates for students and seniors. Military, police and firefighters with proper identification are welcome to attend for free every Tuesday.
LightUP Fest is designed by Zigong Lantern Festival and Trade Group, which has over 30 years of experience producing displays in more than 300 cities in China and over 30 countries worldwide.
Tips for attending LightUP Fest:
- Look for deals: Some sites such as Groupon are offering discounts.
- Check the weather: This event is strictly outdoors and in the evening, so plan for cold weather. Also bring boots if it’s rained recently, as the field can get muddy.
- Bring a camera: This place is great for fun photos! The bright lights against an evening sky can provide much contrast, so make sure you know your camera or phone’s correct settings.
- Use the restroom before you head over: Since the event is outside, there are only portable toilets, which can’t be much fun to navigate in the dark.
All photos (c) P. Hall