Image via NOVA Parks website

Bull Run Festival of Lights 2022

Walking in a winter wonderland? How about seeing that wonderland from the comfort of your car? How about seeing that wonderland from the comfort of your car with hot chocolate?

Josh Rachford
Josh Rachford

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Walking in a winter wonderland? How about seeing that wonderland from the comfort of your car? How about seeing that wonderland from the comfort of your car with hot chocolate?

Do like 80,000+ other carloads of people do each year, and check out the Bull Run Festival of Lights. (Hot chocolate is not provided, so bring your own.)

What is the Bull Run Festival of Lights?

The Festival of Lights at Bull Run Regional Park is a 2.5-mile drive-through display of Christmas lights. Located in Centreville, Virginia, the park is about a 40 minute drive from Washington, DC.

Address: 7700 Bull Run Dr
Centreville, VA 20121

Bull Run Lights Dates and Hours for 2022

This year the Festival of Lights will run from November 11, 2022 through January 8, 2023.

Monday through Thursday nights: 5:30pm to 9:30pm
Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Holiday nights: 5:30pm to 10:00pm
(Holiday nights are Nov 24, Dec 24, 25, 31, and Jan 1)

Ticket Prices for the Festival of Lights at Bull Run

Tickets run about $40 per car depending on the day you go, whether you buy in advance, and whether you have a promo code. Or if you have an enormous car:

$30 per vehicle online
$40 per vehicle at the door
$50 online for vehicles with 15 or more passengers

Then there are promo codes for:
Going early! November 11 through November 18 is $10 off.
Going on a weekday! Monday through Thursday every week except the week before Christmas (12/19 to 12/23) is $5 off.

Buy tickets here!

What to Expect at the Festival of Lights

Posted signs ask you to keep driving at least 10 mph, so the drive-through part should take about 25 minutes – for us it was about 30. For our toddler that was too long, but for the eight-year-old riding with us it was perfect.

Heading into the park, the road splits into two lanes; you can drive in either lane.

The displays include animals: penguins, a polar bear slipping while ice skating, deer jumping or looking or frozen in place. There's a lot of elves, Santa's workshop, and other Christmas themes. The "Toyland" section is mostly toy soldiers. There is no nativity scene. Our favorite is the section where it looks like it's snowing.

Video from the Bull Run Festival of Lights Facebook page

What to Bring

Sure, you could just hop in the car and go. But that isn't extra.

As hinted above, bringing your own hot chocolate makes the drive a little more exciting. We also found that having a snack or two helped keep younger kids engaged longer.

Dressing warmly will allow you to visit the Holiday Village and carnival afterward (see below), but it will also let you roll your window down to get better photos or videos if you want.

Feeling like an overachiever? Or maybe your kids just can't handle merely looking at the awesome lights which move and appear animated (though they just. Aren't. Fortnite.)? You could make bingo cards with things that will be in the light show (see above for ideas).

Holiday Village and Carnival

After you drive through the light display, there is a Holiday Village for you to extend your trip to the park.

The Holiday Village is open November 11 through January 2.

Monday through Thursday: 5:30pm to 9:30pm
Friday through Sunday, Christmas Eve, and Christmas: 5:30pm to 10:00pm

Weather permitting, the carnival is open the same hours as the Holiday Village, except extended holiday hours include December 31 and January 1.

Prices for the carnival:
Rides require 3, 4 or 5 tickets
Single tickets are $1.75
A sheet of 30 tickets is $40
A sheet of 50 tickets is $60
Unlimited ride wristbands are $27 per person

If we hit the carnival, we're getting the unlimited ride wristbands.

Snowflake Stampede

In 2016, the park also ran the Festival of Lights Snowflake Stampede, which allowed participants to run or walk through the light display. So far, it's unclear whether this event will take place again in 2022.

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Josh is a dad, management consultant, and ex-comedian who started Mom 'n Dad Co in 2021.