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Real Mom Review: Bull Run Festival of Lights in Centreville, VA

Real Mom Reviews Things to Do Holidays

We sent two of our MOM Squad ambassadors and their families to experience the Bull Run Festival of Lights. They received free admission in exchange for providing an honest review of their experience.

The Bull Run Festival of Lights is the biggest drive-through light display in Virginia. Experience 2.5-miles of twinkling lights from the comfort of your car. Located in Centreville, Virginia, the Bull Run Festival of Lights is easy to access from Rt. 29 and Rt. 66.

Peggy: The park charges by the carload so it is a great holiday activity for families on a budget. The display was a few miles long and was filled with both stagnant and animated light displays. Characters and scenes from familiar Fairy Tales and movies were displayed throughout the exhibit, along with the anticipated holiday themes.

Bull Run Festival of Lights

Isabel: It was our family's first visit after hearing many great reviews from friends. Our drive was very pleasant and we spent about 30 minutes there. The best part for me as a mom is that we can stay warm in our car while watching it. I definitely recommend preparing a hot/warm drink of your choice before leaving the house so you can enjoy it while watching the light show.

Bull Run Festival of Lights

Peggy: My kids loved the snowing forest and Santa's workshop the best. My three-year-old was mesmerized by all of the lights. Unlike other displays, the exhibits were high enough for him to be able to view entirely from his car seat! My 12-year-old loved identifying the characters he spied along the path.

Isabel: My son, husband and I were very impressed by the light show, especially the winter wonderland portion where you feel like you've been transported into a magical wonderland surrounded by twinkling snowflakes and snow.

Getting There and Getting In:

Peggy: It was easy to find. There were signs at the splits in the road directing traffic to the light show. We went during the week; we did not have to wait and the display was not congested. I understand on weekends that lines become an issue.

Isabel: The general location was generally easy to find but since we went after dark, some of the roads were kind of narrow. We went on a weeknight so there was no wait to get in. I definitely recommend going on a weeknight rather than a weekend so that you can take your time to drive through the festival at a leisurely pace.  

Recommended Age Range:

Peggy: We have a 3-year-old and a 12-year-old boy. This is a great family-friendly activity. Because the displays were high, our 3-year-old was able to view everything from the safety of his car seat.

Isabel: My son is 4-years-old. I would recommend this activity for ages 2 and up.

Time Recommended to Enjoy Experience:

Peggy: There are signs posted that you are supposed to maintain 10 mph during the exhibit. It took us about 20 minutes to drive through without any traffic. I would imagine that on the weekend it would take a little longer.

Isabel: I would say allow an hour or two depending on whether you decide to do the carnival at the end (which requires separate tickets). If you're skipping the carnival at the end, I think 30 minutes should suffice. Just keep in mind that it opens at 5:30 p.m.

Tips for Families:

Peggy: We had a great time at the display. I would recommend either preparing for the carnival or letting your kids know ahead of time that they are not going. 

Isabel: I would recommend going to the bathroom before leaving the house as it might be difficult to enjoy the light show while trying to find a bathroom. [Editor's note: There is a place to get out and use the bathroom about 1/3 of the way through the path.]  Also, I would recommend packing some snacks and warm drinks for yourself and the kiddos.

We found out afterwards that there was a radio station we could have tuned into for the Christmas music. Please tune your radio to 97.1 prior to entering the light festival to get the full optimal experience. Also, remember to turn off your car headlights. There's a carnival with a Ferris wheel and other rides at the end of the light show so if you decide to go, make sure to dress warmly (hats and gloves) and to bring some extra cash. We didn't buy the carnival tickets at the end, so I don't know if they accept credit cards or not, but I saw there is an ATM machine.

Nearby Dining:

Peggy: There is a carnival at the end of the display that has food. The park is close to Centreville and Manassas, both of which have family restaurants. 

Isabel: Yes, at the end of the light show, there's a carnival where they serve your typical carnival snacks/foods such as funnel cake, hot dog, etc.

Would you Visit Again?

Peggy: Yes, we would definitely go again. The display is affordable and was definitely festive!

Isabel: Yes, we enjoyed it a lot and plan on coming back next year.

Looking for even more affordable family fun during the holiday season? Save up to 50% off holiday shows, performances, events and light festivals. 

Tags: Bull Run Festival of Lights Holidays Family Kids


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