An Illuminating Holiday Experience in W. Virginia

Wheeling, West Virginia is a great destination any time of year, but especially around the Christmas season.  That's when the city becomes host to one of the most amazing Christmas light displays in the US. Every year, the Oglebay Resort & Conference Center presents their annual Winter Festival of Lights, one of the most popular holiday attractions in the country. Besides being listed as one of the "Top Ten Best Christmas Light Displays in the U.S." by AOL Travel, it’s been featured on the Travel Channel’s “Extreme Christmas Celebrations” special, and is on the American Bus Association's list of Top 100 International Events. (Besides the more than a million visitors per year, it attracts 3,000 tour buses from more than 36 states!)

So, what's so amazing about it?  The Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights covers more than three hundred acres over a six mile drive throughout the Oglebay resort. There are over 70 larger-than-life displays, including such favorites as the immense “Polyhedron Star”, which stands on the tallest hill in Oglebay, the “Pointsettia Wreath and Candles”, which is the festival’s tallest display, and the extravagant “Cinderella Display”.

The Festival begins at dusk, and is open every day through January 6th.  A per-car donation of $15 is suggested and is valid for the entire festival season. As I’m sure you can imagine, it can get very crowded, especially on the weekends. I’d recommend taking a bus tour or parking your car and taking one of the trolley tours which are offered several times each night beginning at the Wilson Lodge.  For me, it’s a lot less stressful to just sit back and enjoy the displays without worrying about the traffic. Plus, you get a tour guide which adds even more to the experience.

And if your driving tour wasn’t enough, you can be dazzled by even more lights at the hilltop and gardens area of the park, where 150 hanging baskets of light, and thousands of lighted flowers, trees and shrubs are on display, accompanied by holiday music. 

There’s also an exciting light and music show at the Good Zoo, (along with some of Santa’s reindeer), a Holiday Laser Show, Model Train displays, the beautifully decorated Mansion Museum and Wilson Lodge, and some wonderful specialty gift shops.

For more information about Oglebay and the Winter Festival of Lights, call 800-624-6988 or 304-243-4000 or visit

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