Lights Festival Gaithersburg


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Festival highlights

The Light Festival Gaithersburg is a magical Christmas light display at the famous Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Here, you will see over 450 illuminated displays together with a three to five-mile drive through the park.

Driving through the magical forest setting, you will come across a massive selection of exhibits lighting up the light. Displays throughout the past few years have included a frog prince display. Further, settled among the traditional festival favorites include a magical unicorn fountain and a fantasy castle.

Lights Festival Gaithersburg

Themed areas are composed of the North Pole, Victorian Village, Teddy Bear Land, Winter Woods, and many more. The earnings from the Lights Festival Gaithersburg benefit different local charities. In the past, the festival supported Woman Who Care Ministries, Girls on the Run of Montgomery County, Kentlands Community Foundation, Rebuilding Together Montgomery County, and Baby’s Bounty.

The Lights Festival Gaithersburg is one of the highly sought light displays within the Washington, D.C. region. Hence, make sure you complement your entire trip to the Capital area with this vibrant event.

Festival Dates

The Lights Festival Gaithersburg at Seneca Creek State Park provides an amazingly vibrant display, an all-time favorite of many Maryland families for more than twenty years. From late November through December (except December 25), the park becomes a winter wonderland each night. This 2023, organizers are yet to announced the festival dates, so stay tuned for the latest updates.

You can enjoy a three and a half-mile (five kilometers) drive throughout the mystical forest that features over 450 lightened displays and lovely lit trees.

Where It’s Located and How to Get There

The Lights Festival Gaithersburg is located at 11950 Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, MD, 20878, conveniently available from I-270. It is open Monday to Thursday: Opens 6 PM, Last Entry 9 PM; Friday & Saturday: Opens 6 PM, Last Entry 10 PM and Sunday: Opens 6 PM, Last Entry 10 PM.

With light traffic, it will take you at least 25 to 30 minutes to drive through the show. On busier nights, it could take as long as 1.5 to 2 hours.

You can take Exit 10, Clopper Road (Route 117), and then turn at the light. Proceed for at least two miles. The park is located on the left side.

Are you currently searching for the best way to the nearest stop or station to Clopper Road? Some of the closest stops to your destination include:

  • Metropolitan Grove – 734 yards away, a 9-minute walk
  • Firstfield Rd & Clopper Rd – 526 yards away, a 7-minute walk
  • Clopper Rd & Metropolitan Grove Rd – 22 yards away, one minute walk

Take note that you can get to Clopper Rd by train, metro, or bus. Those are the lines and routes which have stops nearby: train (MARC), bus (78, 61, 56, 204).

The MARC is the first and last train that goes to the Clopper Rod in Gaithersburg. In the morning, it stops at 2:17 AM, and in the afternoon, it stops there around 3:02 PM.

When it comes to the bus, the 56 is the first and last bus that goes to Clopper RD in Gaithersburg. It initially stops there at 2:49 AM, and its last stop is around 6:32 PM.

Participants may arrive at any time between the opening and closing times but should stay in their car the whole time. The driver is needed to wear a mask at the admission booth. Parking or stopping along the way is not allowed in the event, except at the porta john locations or an emergency.

If you’re in Maryland, you can also check out these other breathtaking lights festivals:

Festival of Lights Maryland

Symphony of Lights Columbia MD

Festival Hours

In the past few years, the lights of the festival run each night from the day after Thanksgiving throughout New Year’s Eve. Bear in mind that the display is closed to visitors during Christmas Day.

The lights are usually on from 6 PM to 9 PM on Sunday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, the lights are on until 10 PM.

Cost to Visit the Festival

Ticket information for this year’s edition are yet to be released by the organizers, so stay tuned. To give you an idea, here are the different ticket prices available from last year’s Lights Festival in Gaithersburg:

  • $15 per vehicle on Monday through Thursday
  • $25 per vehicle on Friday through Sunday

Visit the festival’s official website for the latest updates on ticket prices.

Weather and What to Wear

The daily high temperatures in Gaithersburg lower by 10 degrees Fahrenheit, from 61 degrees Fahrenheit to 51 degrees Fahrenheit, rarely falling below 38 degrees Fahrenheit or going beyond 73 degrees Fahrenheit.

The normal depth of new snowfall is normally between five and ten times the liquid-equivalent amount, thinking the ground is frozen.

Given that the festival falls during the winter season make sure you wear winter clothes. Here are some basic what to wear tips on the festival:

  • Wear a good base layer
  • Layer on a long-sleeve shirt or a t-shirt
  • Add a warm fleece or sweatshirt
  • Wear a lined jeans or pants on the bottom along with thermals underneath

Keep your feet warm with quality shoes and wool socks

Where to Sleep – Nearby Hotels

Are you one of those who are planning an out-of-town trip? Then it will help if you research some of the best hotels near the festival location. Researching for the nearest hotels means you don’t need to travel far after the Lights Festival Gaithersburg ends late at night.

Here are some of the good hotel places you can consider while you’re at Gaithersburg, MD.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Germantown

3.5 kilometers to Seneca Creek State Park, offering the perfect location for your festival visit. No matter if you are searching for a small town feel or a big city experience, this inn has access to it all. They are conveniently located at exit 15A off I-270, only minutes from downtown Germantown and a quick trip from Washington, DC.

Extended Stay America

Headquartered in lovely Charlotte, NC but also has a branch in Maryland. Whether you are staying in their hotel for one day or a month, you will find that their spacious suites are thoroughly designed to offer you your all needs. The hotel is 2.4 kilometers away from Seneca Creek State Park and is located at 205 Professional Drive, 20879.

Homestead Studio Suites

Situated 3.6 kilometers to Seneca Creek State Park. It is located in Germantown, Extended Stay America, Washington, DC—the ideal starting point from which to discover Germantown. The hotel offers a wide array of services and facilities, offering all you need to have a good night’s sleep after a tiring day at the festival.

Where to Eat

After a tiring day at the Lights Festival Gaithersburg, you want to indulge yourself with tasty and delicious foods to replenish the energy you consumed. You may be wondering about the best places to eat. Here are some of the restaurants you can visit:

Dogfish Head Alehouse

Lclaimed to be the first authentic craft beer restaurant, serving advanced ales and scratch-made made for over fifteen years. They serve lunch, dinner, brunch, late-night, and even drinks.

Bonefish Grill

Craving for fish? Bonefish Grill got you covered. The restaurant focuses on market-fresh fish from across the globe hand-cut in-house each day. They also provide a selection of signature and classic hand-made cocktails, using only squeezed juices, house infusions, and edible garnishes.  Bonefish Grill is located at 82 Market St and only 2.9 kilometers from the park.

Royal Bagel Bakery

Ultimately, we have Royal Bagel Bakery & Deli. They are located at 19725 Germantown Rd. Suite B and 3.9 kilometers from Seneca Creek State Park. They offer sandwiches, lean corn beef, roast beef, turkey breast, and so much more.

More Things to Do in the Area

The Seneca Creek State Park is composed of 6,300 acres, extending along fourteen scenic miles of Seneca Creek. The Clopper Day-Use Area is composed of numerous scenic spots, which include the ninety-acre Clopper Lake, surrounded by fields and forests.

Tire playgrounds, trails, boat rentals, and picnicking are just some of the things you can do in the area while waiting for the Lights Festival Gaithersburg to begin. Furthermore, a restored nineteenth-century cabin and a self-guided path take the area’s history.

More than fifty miles of trails are also open for bicycling, horseback riding, and hiking that wind through a selection of habitats.


  1. Do I need to reserve a spot or can I just drive up to the Lights Festival Gaithersburg?
    • Answer: While the festival is drive-through, it’s recommended to purchase tickets in advance due to its popularity. Drive-up tickets may be available, but entry can’t be guaranteed without a reservation.
  2. Where can I park if I want to stop and take pictures?
    • Answer: For safety reasons, parking and stopping are not allowed along the drive-through route. However, there might be designated spots before or after the festival area for photo opportunities.
  3. Is smoking allowed during the drive-through experience?
    • Answer: For the safety of all attendees and to ensure a pleasant experience for everyone, smoking is prohibited during the drive-through event.
  4. Can I bring my pet along for the drive-through?
    • Answer: Yes, pets are allowed as long as they remain inside your vehicle at all times.
  5. How long is the drive-through experience?
    • Answer: The drive-through typically takes about 20-30 minutes, but this can vary depending on the crowd and pace of the vehicles.
  6. Is there a speed limit while driving through the festival?
    • Answer: Yes, there’s a recommended speed limit to ensure the safety of all attendees and to allow everyone to fully enjoy the light displays. Please follow any posted signs or instructions from event staff.
  7. Can I play music in my car while driving through?
    • Answer: While you can play music inside your vehicle, we request you keep the volume at a level that won’t disturb other attendees or interfere with any synchronized light and music displays.
  8. Are there any restrictions on the type of vehicles allowed?
    • Answer: Generally, standard passenger vehicles are allowed. Large vehicles such as buses or RVs might not be permitted due to size restrictions. It’s recommended to check with the festival organizers in advance if you plan to attend with an oversized vehicle.


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