Edaville Festival of Lights, by guest blogger Charlene Chronicles
Edaville Railroad is a Massachusetts experience. Based in Carver, MA, it is a fun oasis for many families. Having grown up going to Edaville every year, I have fond childhood memories. Not to date myself, but in the old days, the train would stop so you could get on and off to have a lunch or a snack!
Before I was married, I even lived a mile from Edaville and could often hear the train whistle. Now, I am starting new memories with my son. We recently went to Edaville’s Cranberry Festival in October where we celebrated his first birthday. Now we are planning on taking him to the annual Festival of Lights, which begins this Friday and runs through the New Year.
For those that have not been to Edaville’s Festival of Lights, or haven’t been in years, I encourage your families’ to consider going. Here is why.
It is magical.
The music, the sights, and the lights. The displays, the trains, and a visit with Santa if you are so inclined. Hot chocolate, warm fried dough and many, many memories.
The Festival of Lights is one of the largest light displays in New England with over 7 million lights. It will be open weekdays from 4-9pm and weekends from 2pm-9pm from November 26 through January 2nd. They are also open the weekend of November 12-14 and November 19-21.
If you have younger children, the best time to go is around 3-4pm. Fresh from naps, they can be ready for some fun. It is also semi-dark around that time so you can get the wow factor when you pull into the parking lot. For those kiddos that need their beauty sleep, it will probably give you two to three hours of fun so you can head home in time for bed.
Make sure to bundle up! You will be outside 99% of the time. So think in terms of long-johns, hand-warmers and scarfs. You can always take off layers, but if you go un-prepared, the kids will be freezing before you get to the back of the park.
When you get to Edaville, there is a tendency to get caught up in the lights and sights, but I suggest heading to the train first. Everyone else will be oohing and ahhing over the lights, so the train line, earlier in the night, is shorter and quicker. The later it gets, the longer the line and the more likely the tantrums. Plus, if you need to leave the park early, you don’t want to have missed the train ride, which comprises most of the ticket cost. Then, if you have time and the line is not too long, you can go again since the tickets allow for unlimited train rides. It is a 2 1/2 mile train ride with music and lights. For younger kids, it is fun to play ‘I See’ with the various illuminated holiday decorations and/or guess what the lights are: dinosaur, frog, butterfly….
Then you can leisurely wander around and take in the ambiance of the season. If you are Santa fans, they have a Santa’s Village in the large brick building near the back left of the park. There is an extra cost for Santa photos and, at times, there can be long lines. So it might be something to check out, but be ready to pass it up too if it is too busy. There is also an indoor play space for younger kids. This may be a great place to warm up, but be prepared for a lot of other people doing the same thing. Personally, I think if you are going to do the Edaville Festival of Lights, by-pass this section if you can. Otherwise, it may be hard to get the kids to go back out in the cold and see the lights.
There are plenty of kid rides to enjoy (total of 11), but there are height limits on many of them. So for kids under 2, don’t expect them to be able to go on much. For other rides, the younger kids might make the height requirement, but they often have to go on alone. So depending on how trustworthy your 22 month old is to stay sitting on the ride, you may want to pass those too. However, there are many little wooden trains for them to climb in and explore, and some of the rides a parent can accompany their child, so you do get a decent smattering of rides to experience.
The older ones have more to choose from, like a Ferris Wheel. Edaville Railroad’s website has a section that lists the rides and the height requirements so it is a great resource to check out before you go.
They have concession stands, which is a great option for fried dough or hot chocolate. They also have a cafeteria where you can get drinks and hot dogs, but it can get busy. So it might be best to bring some snack bars while you wait. However, you can bring a picnic. They have picnic tables at the front of the park if you want that option.
Another notable is that in December, Edaville also hosts a spectacular fireworks show. Not sure what this year’s will be like, but in past years, it has been very impressive. The fireworks are scheduled for December 3, December 10 and December 17th. I am not sure of the exact time, but it is typically around 8:30pm.
Parking is free and tickets for children are $16 and adults are $18. Kids under 2 are free. It is about an hour’s drive from the Boston area and if you follow Edaville on Facebook and/or Twitter, they may be offering more details and discounts. Also, check out their 4 minute video. If you fast-forward to the 2 minute mark, you can get a sneak peek of what the Festival of Lights is like before you decide if the trip is right for you family.
I hope this is not the last year for this magical winter experience, but in case it is, I don’t want to miss it.
Author: Charlene A. DeLoach Oliver, JD, CISR, esteemed blogger behind Charlene Chronicles
Image Credits: Thanks to my brother for sharing pictures of my son and his son having fun at Edaville this past October.