This Friday, the switch will be flipped on to illuminate more than 1 million lights as the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights opens its 14th season. This time-honored, Western New York holiday tradition takes place at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg.
This year, the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights will be open for 19 days, with opening day coming on the Friday after Thanksgiving and running every weekend through Dec. 16 (the schedule expands 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:
Kandy Kane's Holiday Magic Show - Buffalo-native John Kennedy Kane performs during the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights as the legendary elf, "Kandy Kane." More than just a magic show, Kane's dynamic sharp wit and self-deprecating humor will entertain both children and adults alike during each half-hour performance. Showtimes: Fridays 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.; Saturdays 6:30, 8 and 9:15 p.m.; Sundays 6:30 and 8 p.m.
Canstruction Competition & Display - Beginning the weekend of Dec. 7, local companies will compete to build structures made entirely out of canned goods. Employees from Praxair, Wendel, Hale Expo Services, National Fuel, Trautman Associates, Ferguson Electric and Hamburg Gaming will showcase their designs Dec. 7-23. All canned goods used will benefit the Food Bank of Western New York.
Rudolph's Holiday Fun Zone - This interactive children's area features the "The Night You Save Christmas" digital game and the "Find Frosty" giant I-Spy.
The Polar Stop - Located inside the New York State Police Building, this railroad-themed display will include toy train layouts provided by local model railroad clubs. Other activities include the Tops Winterland Workshop, where kids can make a one-of-a-kind craft to bring home. Families can design a holiday card for veterans and troops as well as visit the Drive Safe Forest sponsored by WNY United. On Sundays only, the Polar Stop will feature "Story Time with the Conductor" at 7:30 p.m.
Frosty's 3D Adventure - A 3,000-square-foot walk-through maze takes people through a day with Frosty. It's best viewed with the complimentary, patented 3-D chromadepth glasses for the ultimate 3-D 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" will meet 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.
Santa's Magical Midway - This features an array of kiddie rides from the days of yesteryear. Each nostalgic ride has been fully reconditioned to bring back their original grandeur. It's $2 per ride, or "Santa's Super Saver" costs $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 beginning Dec. 8.
Upstate Farms Express - Climb aboard this fun-sized train for a short ride up and down 42nd Street. The train will leave from the 42nd Street Train Depot throughout the night.
NEW! Santa's Reindeer - Live reindeer return to the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights. Antler Ridge Farms of Hamburg will showcase a number of its prized North American reindeer each Sunday of the festival inside Rudolph's Holiday Fun Zone (Sundays only).
Admission to the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights is $25 per carload at the gate. The carload admission includes all aspects of the festival. 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. 22. The Fairgrounds Festival of Lights is sponsored by the Erie County Agricultural Society (ECAS). For more information regarding the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights, visit www.FairgroundsHoliday.com