8 million twinkling lights, over 1000 fresh cut trees, the scent of holiday food and displays with over 20,000 ornaments transform Busch Gardens Europe in Williamsburg into a Christmas Town for the 7th time since 2009. This year the holiday happiness continues with a few new additions to the already magical experience from November 26-January 3, 2016.
Christmas Town is an additional event not including on season passes, but is less than half the price for a typical visit. This is a time to visit the park for the seasonal delights and not necessarily the rides as many are not operating due to weather and maintenance. This season the park began with being open just on the weekends, but beginning this weekend it is open daily from 2-10 pm except for Christmas Day (December 11th until –January 3rd )
This year there is an all new ice skating experience with headliner, 2 time Olympic silver medalist champion Elvis Stojko T’was the Night. Based on the popular poem and will be shown in the Royal Palace open air theater in the France village.
If you are short on the Christmas spirit, this is the place to go. It is nearly impossible to not truly appreciate the beauty of the holiday season with 8 million twinkling lights, the sweet clean smell of pine trees and some of the best hot cider and hot chocolate you have ever had.
Each country has its own light theme and music in the back ground. England is very traditional with white lights, holly and red ribbons. You will find parts of the park as a winter wonderland of blues. Ireland and Italy are themed as you would expect, Ireland has greens, Italy is very gold with angels. Fiesta Italia has become Holiday Hills and is a retro holiday theme with your classic red, green and white. One of the nicest spots in the park is when you walk the bridge between Italy and Germany to the song Let there be Peace on Earth while looking at the lights.
You should lap the park at least twice and see all of it. Be sure not to miss the Polar Pathway (the transition from England into Italy where Pompeii is). Riding the train around when it’s not super cold is really nice you can see a lot of the lights including what you can only see from the train. The Skyride is open as well and the above view is breath taking.
The park is to be explored and absorbed. Some of the attractions available are Santa’s Workshop, the train, Highland Stables and all the rides in Germany and Italy. Only Verbolten is open of the coasters and when it gets below 36 that will close for safety reasons same is said for the Nacht Tower (Mach Tower)
Including the new ice skating show, there are a total of 6 shows to be enjoyed all in the spirit of the holidays. Scrooge No More in England is an adaptation of the Charles Dickens Classic A Christmas Carol, with technological enhancement from the upgrade done on the Globe last year. The lighting and sound in the festive show fully takes advantage of the new technology. At Fest Haus there is a musical holiday review show called Deck the Halls. In Italy is Miracles a winter themed acrobatic show. And over in Ireland is a classic retelling of the Christian “first Christmas” show at the Abby Stone called Gloria.
Outside of the Fest Haus the 50 foot main tree will light up nightly to a musical score, properly named O’Tannenbaum.
Shopping at Christmas Town can be part of the fun there is plenty of it around. The normal stores will be open selling Busch Gardens merchandise as well as holiday decorations and gifts. In Oktoberfest there is an outdoor market of items from local artisans, winery and ornaments. With all of the holly jolly around it makes a good time to pick up some special items, or get pictures done for your holiday gift giving, regardless of what you celebrate. Cashless wristbands are offered and can be purchased once you enter the park to make your day a bit easier. You can pre pay a set amount or link to a credit card depending on your preference and needs. If you pay up front with cash and don’t use it all, it is refunded to you at the end of your night. You can use these for all purchases including dining.
Food is always part of the fun and exceptionally delicious at Busch Gardens. The menu is relatively the same but gets tweaked for the season. Some examples of holiday themed foods are turkey, ham, stuffing, hot chocolate and hot apple cider. You can purchase a Christmas Town themed refillable mug for about $6 and get as much hot chocolate and hot cider all season long for $1 a refill. For Christmas town you will also get to enjoy holiday treats like S’mores, Fondue Fudge, seasonal soups in a bread bowl. Over in France you can get some Smoke house deliciousness outside from smoked turkey legs to smoked sausage sandwiches with whatever toppings you like (kraut, cheese, peppers, onions, chili, all of the above)
Santa’s Fireside Feast (Castle O Sullivan in Ireland) is a holiday buffet and interactive show with Santa. You can meet Santa, tell him what you would like for Christmas and get a picture. He also will read everyone a story, there is a small show with this including elves but you are part of the show. Ms. Claus will bring cookies out for dessert. It was a real delight and a must for kids. You can book this for lunch or dinner, bring your appetite the buffet includes a carving station of turkey or ham, Swedish meatballs, homemade mac-n-cheese, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and Trapper’s Smokehouse Chili. Plus there is plenty of food for kids plus a salad bar and more.
Admission can be purchased for a $35 fun card which allows multiple visits, pass holders should log on the Busch Gardens website for deals on admission which can vary. Parking is complimentary for pass holders, and $15 for everyone else. Busch Gardens becomes Christmas town by a 70 person team in the few weeks at the end of Howl-O-Scream and is the largest Christmas light event in North America in the 100 acre park.
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