On Friday, Nov. 29, the switch will be flipped to illuminate more than 1 million lights as the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights opens its 15th season. This time-honored, Western New York holiday tradition takes place at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg.
The 2019 Fairgrounds Festival of Lights will be open for 15 nights, opening the Friday after Thanksgiving and then every weekend through Dec. 15, with an expanded schedule Dec. 18-23. The venue is open from 5-9 p.m., with the buildings and grounds open until 10 p.m.
On opening night, at approximately 6:05 p.m., lights on the main Christmas tree will be turned on during a brief ceremony that will include a Skylighters of WNY firework display and sounds of the season performed by Mel’s School of Music & Theater.
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.
•Ugly Sweater Fashion Show & Contest – 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18. Have an ugly sweater? Put it to good use and possibly win some cash. Two classes will showcase both handmade and purchased sweaters. Register at https://bit.ly/2XwP402.
•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 are 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Fridays; 6:30, 8 and 9:15 p.m. Saturdays; and 6:30 and 8 p.m. Sundays.
•Sundays WNY Vocal Talents On Display – On Friday evenings during the Festival of Lights, enjoy Christmas carols and other sounds of the season performed by Bello Voice Studio and Mel’s School of Music & Theater. Performances will take place inside Expo Hall at 7:30 p.m.
•Canstruction Competition & Display – Beginning the weekend of Dec. 13, local companies will compete to build structures made entirely out of canned goods. Employees from Watts Architecture & Engineering, CPL Architecture & Engineering, Trautman Associates, Ferguson Electric, Marathon Energy/Buffalo State and Hamburg Gaming will showcase their designs Dec. 13-23. All canned goods used will benefit FeedMore WNY (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.
•Gingerbread Land – Located inside the New York State Police Building, one will find 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.
•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 3-D chromadepth glasses for the ultimate 3-D effect.
•North Pole Experience featuring Santa Claus – At 10,000 square-feet, it ranks as the largest Santa display in the region. 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 meet guests on the front porch. Families are encouraged to bring their own cameras to capture a lasting memory of the holidays. While waiting for Santa, festivalgoers will be able to see toy train layouts provided by local model railroad clubs.
•Santa's Magical Midway – 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 $3 per ride or “Santa's Super Saver” is $20 for 10 rides. Kiddie rides will be located inside the Grange Building for the entire run of the Festival of Lights. Larger rides will be included inside the event center beginning Dec. 13.
•Fairgrounds Express – Climb aboard this fun-sized train for a short ride around the Rudolph’s Holiday Fun Zone. The trains depart continuously from the 42nd Street Train Depot throughout the night.
•WNY Snow Gauge – Located on 42nd Street, the gauge is a 20-foot-high graphic documenting historic Buffalo winter snowfall records. Included are such milestones as the current national record of 199.4” set back in the winter of 1977-78, and the Erie County one-day record of 47.5” achieved on Nov. 20, 2014.
•Santa’s Reindeer – Live reindeer return to the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights. Antler Ridge Farms of Hamburg will showcase a number of 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. Guests can save 40% on gate admission with the purchase of a $15 advance sale carload voucher at all Tops Friendly Markets until Nov. 28.
The Fairgrounds Festival of Lights is sponsored by the Erie County Agricultural Society. For more information, visit www.FairgroundsHoliday.com.