winterfest tree

Visitors to Winterfest of Lights check out the 50-foot Christmas tree with its colorful dancing lights during the 2021 festival. This year’s displays will come to life on Thursday with an opening ceremony beginning at 5:30 p.m.

(Nov. 11, 2022) Winterfest of Lights will kick off its 30th year of dazzling guests, with an opening ceremony on Thursday beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Northside Park on 125th Street.

The event is free and open to the public and will feature a performance by Ocean City Elementary School’s “OC Stars” singing and dancing to holiday songs.

Mayor Rick Meehan will then “flip the switch” to light the Winterfest displays and the 50-foot Christmas tree, officially opening the festival. Santa will make an appearance as well.

In addition, a drone show may also take place in the sky, but it will depend on the weather.

Guests can stroll around the park and view the Winterfest of Lights displays for free on opening night.

“There’s always something new or different at Winterfest of Lights,” said Frank Miller, director of Special Events for the Town of Ocean City. “The walking element will stay, but we may make some modifications next year, possibly.”

For years, Winterfest consisted of a tram ride through the colorfully illuminated Northside Park adorned with Christmas displays and a large, heated tent. Because of covid, in 2020 organizers unveiled a new layout – a walking tour – to the annual holiday tradition. Since the outdoor walking experience was so well received, it was continued in 2021 and again this year.

With just under one million lights around the park, visitors can see favorite displays like the Twelve Days of Christmas, Jaws and the Toy Factory, as well as the animated 50-foot Christmas tree, which will feature a new lighting system this year.

The big ring display, sponsored by Park Place Jewelers, is a great place for a marriage proposal, Miller said.

Over the 30-year history of Winterfest of Lights, the festival area has grown in size, and old displays have been refurbished or replaced with new ones.

One of the original displays, a lighthouse, which Miller said was created by the Public Works Department, was refurbished and brought back about five or six years ago after being out of commission for over a decade.

New this year is a 60-foot-long tunnel of lights that reacts to sound, Miller said.

Guests can take photos at one of the many “hotspots” along the walking path and in the new expanded Winterfest pavilion this year.

“We’re slowly working our way back to the big tent [that was a staple pre-covid],” Miller said. “We’ll also have some indoor displays we have not had since pre-covid.”

Santa will be at Winterfest nightly until Dec. 23. Visitors can pose for a photo with Old Saint Nick and drop off their Christmas wish lists.

Holiday music throughout the park will be provided by Radio Ocean City, and the OC Recreation Boosters will be selling hot chocolate and coffee.

Wednesdays will again be Furry Friends Day, where guests can bring their leashed pets.

Winterfest will be open Nov. 17 thought Dec. 31. Hours of operation are Wednesday through Sunday from 5:30-9:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased on-site or online.

Admission is $6 for guests 12 and older and free for youth 11 and younger.

“To me, it’s a family friendly experience with no pressure, you don’t feel like you’re caught in a crowd or being rushed,” Miller said. “It’s a nice, relaxing visit. You can take your time, you can go through more than once, grab some hot chocolate, stop and take photos.”

For more information, visit www.ococean.com/events or call 410-250-0125.

Winterfest grossed $614,747 – second highest revenue since its inception – on 100,237 tickets sold in 2021.

The biggest weekend collectively for Winterfest in 2021 was Thanksgiving, with 15,474 attendees. The biggest day outright was Saturday, Dec. 4, with 9,090 people taking the walking tour.

To coincide with the Northside Park festival is a Winterfest Train Garden inside the Welcome Center at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center on 40th Street.

View the model railroad displays and trains, and read and learn about the history of the train station and railroad in Ocean City.

The train garden will be open Nov. 17 through Dec. 31, Wednesday through Sunday from 5:30-9 p.m.

Admission is free; however, donations are accepted and will benefit the Ocean City Beach Patrol.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.