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Holiday festival set to begin

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Wed, Nov 16th 2016 03:10 pm

2016 marks the 12th year for what has become a time-honored holiday tradition in Western New York. The Fairgrounds Festival of Lights at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg will flip the switch on more than 1 million twinkling lights on a newly expanded drive through route at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25.

This year, the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights will be open for 17 days, with opening day coming on the Friday after Thanksgiving and running every weekend through Dec. 18 with an expanded schedule Dec. 19-23. The festival is open from 5-9 p.m., with the buildings and grounds staying open until 10 p.m.

Admission to the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights includes a wide array of activities and holiday fun that includes six decorated buildings, live family entertainment, craft making and vendors. Highlights include:

•(New) Frosty's 3D Adventure - A 3,000-square-foot walk-through maze that takes people through a day with Frosty. It's best viewed with the complimentary, patented 3D chromadepth glasses for the ultimate 3D effect.

•North Pole Experience featuring Santa Claus - Guests are transported to the North Pole as they make their way through displays including a toy shop, elf village and the arctic. The height of the experience comes when guests stand face to face with Santa's house, where "the Big Guy" himself will be meeting guests on the front porch. Families are encouraged to bring their own cameras to capture a lasting memory of the holidays. At 10,000 square feet, it ranks as the largest Santa display in the region.

•Second Annual Great Lakes International Ice Carving Competition & Gallery - This takes place Nov. 25-27 as part of the opening weekend of the Festival of Lights. It's being held under the auspices of the National Ice Carving Association and the Ice Farm of Auburn. Eleven carving duos are scheduled to compete for $10,000 in cash prizes over the three-day competition. Each team will be given 32 hours and 4,800 pounds of ice (one 3,000 pound block and six 300 pound blocks) to create a cohesive design. Following the competition, the "ice art" will be on display inside the fully insulated "Igloo Building," allowing for the pieces to remain intact throughout the run of the festival.

•Milk For Health Kids Game Show - It's the name of the game when it comes to good nutrition and healthy choices! Kids from the audience participate and become the stars of this 20-minute show. Staged as a TV game show, there's lots of excitement! Look out for surprises and twists and turns along the way. Every child called on stage wins something! Hosted by Rob & Carol Allen. Show times are 6:15 and 8:15 p.m.

•Santa's Magical Midway - This attraction features an array of kiddie rides from the days of yesteryear. Each nostalgic ride has been fully reconditioned to bring back its original grandeur. It's $2 per ride or "Santa's Super Saver" is $20 for 12 rides. Kiddie rides will be located inside the Grange Building for the entire run of the festival. Larger rides will be included inside the event center Dec. 9-11 and 16-23.

•Tops Winterland Workshop - Located inside the New York State Police Building, kids can make a one-of-a-kind craft to bring home. Families can also design a holiday card for veterans and troops as well as visit the Drive Safe Forest sponsored by WNY United.

•Upstate Farms Express - Climb aboard this fun-sized train for a short ride through the festival. The train will leave from the train depot on 42nd Street throughout the night.

Admission to the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights is $25 per carload at the gate. The carload admission includes all aspects of the festival as well as the Great Lakes International Ice Carving Competition Gallery. Festivalgoers can save 40 percent on gate admission with the purchase of a $15 advance sale carload voucher at all Tops Friendly Markets until Nov. 24.

The Fairgrounds Festival of Lights is sponsored by the Erie County Agricultural Society. For more information regarding the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights and the Great Lakes International Ice Carving Competition, visit www.FairgroundsHoliday.com.

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