rock cityThis year marks the 26th anniversary of the Enchanted Garden of Lights, and Rock City is all dressed up for the occasion, with over a million sparkling lights and one of the world’s largest walk-through Christmas trees, the first of its kind anywhere!

While we’ve spent many an afternoon squeezing through Fat Man’s Squeeze during the day, it’s been a few years since we’ve done the lights. It’s hard to say who was more blown away – our 8-year-old, my husband or me.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the fresh aroma of coffee from Starbucks. While a hot latte and the outdoor fireplace beckoned, my child was nearly pulling my arm off to get to the main event.

santa rock cityThere is a one-way path this season during COVID restrictions, but you can still see all four “realms of wonder”: Magic Forest, Arctic Kingdom, North Pole Village and Yule Town. At this point, my daughter was almost shivering with excitement. This season’s cookie decorating is in the Big Rock Grill – where you can decorate gingerbread cookies onsite, or get kits to-go! We decided to save this until the end of the night to do.

As you venture through Yule Town, the tree trunks were wrapped in beautiful twinkling lights and doves hung from the bridge above; we were literally surrounded by lights.

Hol_Rock City Enchanted Garden of Lights 2As we journeyed through the Grand Corridor and into Gnome Valley, also known as Toy Land, there was an entire scene of children’s toys flashing with boats, rocking horses and teddy bears. We also saw classic light displays such as snowmen, candy canes and trains. Next, the Arctic Kingdom surrounded us with a curtain of stringed lights, penguins and frosty characters waiting to meet us.

We then crossed the Stone Bridge to the North Pole Village where we found the iconic waterfall star. You know it’s officially Christmastime when the shining star is hung over Lover’s Leap. After enjoying the stunning views of the city below, we headed to Café 7 for some delicious seasonal food, and then to the North Pole Lodge where the man of the hour sits behind his workshop desk: Santa Claus! And this year’s Santa scene is brand new! Kids can’t sit in his lap, but can still tell him their wish list and get their photo made with him.

RC Enchanted Garden of Lights PenginLeaving the Lodge, friendly staff directed us to what I think was the highlight of the evening – the dancing trees. Located in the Magic Forest, the attraction features a beautiful display of LED trees flashing vibrant colors in time to music. We came upon a 43-foot walk-through tree of lights – the first of its kind anywhere, and still one of only a few in the world!

We ended our trip in the Fairyland Caverns. The black-lit fairytale characters we’ve come to love were all dressed for the season, surrounded by snow and tinsel.

As we made our way to the parking lot, my husband and I marveled at how much we enjoyed it – not always the case with family attractions. In such a pandemic year, it’s nice to have something that brings back the excitement of the season.