A visit to The Christmas Lights Spectacular is an annual tradition for our Playing in Puddles family. We absolutely love the beauty and magic of this event, and we were blown away again this year to see that they’ve (somehow) gone bigger and better, with a huge number of new lights on display.
This display is no ordinary lights-adorning-hedges-type affair. No, no, this is far bigger and better and way more impressive than that. The Hunter Valley Gardens’ Christmas Lights Spectacular is the BIGGEST Christmas lights display in the southern hemisphere! And this year they’ve completely upped the ante – hanging more than 3 million lights!
NEW this year is a White Christmas scene complete with snow cave, polar bears and snowflake-topped trees, and a “Lover’s Corner” complete with heart tunnel and mistletoe.
There’s Snowy – a new giant snowman – you can walk under (pic below) and a new magic castle to explore. The Around the World display has been added to this year with a new Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and Centre Point Tower, plus the UK’s Edinburgh Castle and London Big Ben.
There are Cinderella castles, Ice Age squirrels and scooter-riding penguins. A pirate ship sails the lake and dinosaurs roam the hill. Their Candyland is scattered with liquorice allsorts, jellybeans, gingerbread men and lollypops, while their Fairyland is home to Tinkerbell, My Little Ponies and a giant rocking horse.
There’s a nativity scene that tells the story of Christmas and lights up an angel, baby Jesus, three wise men and more as the First Story is narrated. The “12 Days of Christmas” section encourages you to get your carol on, as the appropriate lights turn on with each verse of song.
The lights are, of course, the pièce de résistance of this event, but there’s so much more. One of our favourite areas is Santa’s Workshop – a fantastical display of animatronic elves and reindeer that will turn even the grinchiest of grinches into believers.
Inside Santa’s Workshop your child can compose and post a letter to Santa – be it a wish list of gifts or note of apology to win their way back onto the “nice list”.
There is entertainment by way of carollers (until Boxing Day), roving circus performers and magicians, and the Little Scallywagz children’s music group is back with their “Rock’n Elfy’s Show”. The Scallywagz will perform on stage every evening at 7.30pm and 8.30pm. They’ll have your tots jiving to Christmas tunes and getting excited by the antics of Rudolph.
Every evening until Christmas, Santa himself will be waiting to meet with children, to hear about gift lists and to pose for Santa photos (6pm-10pm; prices start at $35) and on New Year’s Eve the sky, too, will be lit with a fireworks display (9pm).
The Gardens’ also boast four beautiful permanent rides. The swing chair sees you suspended and spinning 11m above the ground, while the 12-metre high super slide is 35 metres long! The ferris wheel lifts you 25m into the air and grants you a view over the gardens, nearby vineyards and wineries and the surrounding mountain ranges. But it’s the traditional Venetian carousel, made in Italy to the Gardens’ design specifications, that is a favourite of ours with its giraffes, lions, horses and elephants.
For their special events, the Gardens also set up two inflatable fun zones. One jumping castle area is zoned for toddlers while the second is for older kids, which is so sensible as it means tots can bounce without being bowled over and the big kids can go all-out nutty without being reprimanded to “watch the little ones”.
You won’t go hungry. There are multiple food stalls serving stuffed spuds, burritos, fish ‘n’ chips and pizzas. Plus, there are plenty of “special treat” desserts, such as gelato, popcorn and donuts. Wine and beer can be purchased as can hot chocolate if the weather turns frosty – and believe us, it can.
We’re so lucky to have the Christmas Lights Spectacular just a hop, skip, jump from the Central Coast. This event is so special – we really can’t recommend it enough. The size and scope and beauty of it can really only be appreciated once you’ve experienced it – the photos just don’t do it justice.
This we can promise: as you wander the gardens you’ll find yourself captivated by lights near and far. It’s calming and beautiful and romantic and a truly special way to celebrate the festive season with your family.
We recommend you add a visit this year to your Christmas list.
The Hunter Valley Gardens’ Christmas Lights Spectacular
When: 8 November 2019 until 26 January 2020 (closed 25 December 2019). Gardens open daily 9am-4pm; The Christmas Lights Spectacular is open 5.30pm-9.45pm. All visitors must vacate the Gardens between 4pm and 5.30pm.
Weather: If thunderstorms hit, the event may be called off until the storm passes. Weather updates will be posted on the Hunter Valley Gardens Facebook page.
Access: All of the paths within the Hunter Valley Gardens are stroller and wheelchair friendly.
Tips: Bring jumpers, as it gets surprisingly chilly of an evening. We recommend you take cash, as some of the food stalls don’t take card. There is an ATM facility located at the rides/food area.
Location: The Hunter Valley Gardens, 2090 Broke Road, Pokolbin.
Phone: 02 4998 4000
Entry passes can be purchased online or at the entry gate. Online tickets do not restrict you to a specific date.
Christmas Lights Spectacular Entry | Adult $30; Child (4-15 yrs) $25; Child Under 4 Free; Family Pass (2 Adults + 1 Child) $79; Family Pass (2 Adults + 2 Children) $99; Extra Child on Family Pass $22.
Day/Night Entry | Experience the Hunter Valley Gardens during the day and the Christmas Lights Spectacular at night with the Hunter Valley Gardens Day/Night pass. You don’t have to attend both on the same day: the pass is valid for 1 day and 1 night entry within one week of purchase. Adult $47; Child (4-15 yrs) $38; Child Under 4 Free; Family Pass (2 Adults + 1 child) $119; Family Pass (2 Adults + 2 Children) $149.
Rides Prices | The unlimited rides wristband is $15/person or rides can be purchased singly for $6/person. Ride passes cannot be pre-purchased. They are available at the ticket booth at the rides/food area in the Hunter Valley Gardens. Eftpos or cash accepted at ride ticket booth.
Discounted Entry for Large Groups | If you have a group of 10 or more paying adults you can get discounted entry. To secure this rate you must pre-book at least 3 days in advance. To make a group booking, contact email@example.com or 02 4998 4006.
Annual Passes | Planning on coming to the Gardens again and again? Their Annual Passes offer unlimited entry to the Hunter Valley Gardens and all of their events for 12 months, including their Snow Time in the Gardens, Mega Creatures, and Giant Easter Egg Hunt events. It makes a great Christmas gift! Adult $99; Child (4-15 yrs) $65; Child Under 4 Free; Family (2 adults + 2 Children) $249.
♥ This event makes for such a special outing for your little ones in the lead up to Christmas. Organise a group of friends or family to share in the magic with you. Click below to share this feature with them, and invite them along. ↓