Travel Diary » Enjoying the Hunter Valley Christmas Lights
On our recent trip to the Hunter Valley we went to see the biggest display of Christmas lights in Australia. Some claim the southern hemisphere.
One of the biggest attractions in the Hunter Valley is the Hunter Valley Gardens, a giant botanical style gardens set over 25 acres with ten different themed gardens. There are formal gardens, rose gardens, lake gardens, oriental gardens, a storybook land, and more. Visiting the gardens by day is usually It's a huge day out and they often have other things on like concerts, New Years fireworks, and snow and ice skating in winter. But perhaps the most famous yearly event at the the Hunter Valley Gardens is the Christmas lights display.
The lights display was amazing. It was like stumbling across that one magical street where every house had spectacular christmas lights trying to out-do the next, times one thousand. I would love to see the electricity bill! Not to mention the tangle of lights when they opened the boxes at the start of the year to set all these millions of lights up!
There were lakes decorated with Australian icons, musical trees, tunnels of light, dinosaur gardens with neon glowing T-Rex and rose gardens with twinkling lights. There were nativity scenes and glittery pumpkin carriages, dripping icicles and hedges covered with such expert precision not a light was out of place.
There was a musical 12 days of Christmas display where lights came on in time to the Christmas carol and a fantastical storybook land with twinkling fairies and fairytale characters. With 1.25 million twinkling lights over 5 gardens, it took us a good 90 minutes to walk around, and that was at a reasonably fast pace.
Even for cynical adults there were quite a few 'oooh ahh pretty' moments! And if lights aren't your thing, well there is the beer and food garden. You are also welcome to take your beer on a walk around the lights with you ... certain to make any light viewing experience more enjoyable. An opportunity Colin and Uncle Craig didn't pass up on.
The photos really do the night justice - when you are chasing kids around trying to take a couple of photos without a tripod in low-light, photos never work! For every photo here I have four others that are blurry dizzy trails of lights that look like a kid was spinning around with my camera while pressing the down the shutter.
Hayley at 5 years old was the most excited by the lights. At the entrance we were met by a Christmas fairy (aka a rather pretty lady dressed in period costume with wings singing carols) handing out fairy dust (glitter!). Hayley carried that fairy dust around the whole lights display for a good hour until she found exactly the right place to sprinkle the fairy dust - Storybook Land.
Noah (7) was more impressed with the free glow stick that all children receive upon entry. Until he got bored carrying it halfway through the night and handed it over to me.
Both kids were rather impressed with the children's stage with a band playing Christmas carols, the giant Christmas tree and Santa's stage. And of course the stalls selling popcorn and hot sugar coated churros.
If you are in the Hunter Valley region between November - January (dates vary so check the Hunter Valley Gardens website - this year the lights display ran from November 9 - January 26) with young children or just love Christmas light displays, it's definitely worth checking out. Check the schedule before going - on certain nights they have fireworks, jumping castles, children's bands and other cool activities.
Unfortunately it's not a cheap night out. For a family of four, visiting the Christmas lights costs $60AUD. Then of course there is beer and snacks! But we did really enjoy our night out.