As the crisp air of Liverpool, New York, welcomes the festive season, this spectacular light festival offers a dazzling escape into a world illuminated by twinkling fairy lights and glowing displays.
From the moment you enter, you’re greeted by a symphony of twinkling lights trees and mesmerizing curtain lights, setting the stage for an unforgettable experience. Join us as we explore this magical Christmas light show, where every turn brings a new delight and the spirit of the holidays shines brightest.
About the Festival
Lights on the Lake is an extraordinary two-mile-long drive-through spectacle situated in the serene Onondaga Lake Park in Liverpool, New York. This festival is a true embodiment of holiday cheer, inviting visitors to embark on a magical journey from the comfort of their vehicles. As you meander along the lakeshore, you’re immersed in a captivating world of light and color, where each display tells a story and adds to the festive ambiance.
Here’s a glimpse into some of the featured lighting displays that make this event a must-visit:
- Towering Holiday Displays: Majestic structures of light reach for the sky, creating a grand and awe-inspiring sight that captures the essence of the holiday spirit.
- Twinkling Fantasy Forest: Enter a whimsical world where trees are adorned with thousands of twinkling lights, creating a fantasy forest that feels like it’s straight out of a fairy tale.
- Larger-than-Life Land of Oz: This display brings the beloved tale to life with brilliant lights, showcasing scenes and characters from the classic story in a vibrant, larger-than-life format.
- Colorful Light Arches: Drive through spectacular arches of lights, creating tunnels of vibrant colors that dazzle and delight, offering a truly immersive light experience.
Festival Dates (2023 – 2024)
The Lights on the Lake festival commenced its enchanting journey on November 13, 2023, marking the beginning of a mesmerizing display of lights and colors. This captivating event will continue to illuminate Onondaga Lake Park through the holiday season and beyond, concluding on January 12, 2024.
Whether you’re looking for a magical outing during the Thanksgiving weekend, a unique Christmas experience, or a bright start to the New Year, this festival offers ample opportunity to indulge in its luminous charm throughout these dates.
Where It’s Located and How to Get There
The Lights on the Lake festival is beautifully set in Onondaga Lake Park, located at 106 Lake Drive, Liverpool, New York, United States. This idyllic setting provides the perfect backdrop for the festival, blending the natural beauty of the park with the spectacular light displays. The serene ambiance of the lake, combined with the vibrant lights, creates an unforgettable experience for visitors from near and far.
The festival’s proximity to Syracuse Hancock International Airport, approximately 7 miles away, makes it easily accessible for those flying in. Upon arrival at the airport, visitors have several options to reach the festival:
- Taxi Services: Readily available at the airport, offering a direct and convenient route to the park.
- Rideshare Apps: Services like Uber and Lyft provide a flexible and user-friendly option.
- Car Rentals: For those preferring to drive themselves, multiple car rental agencies are located at the airport.
- Public Transportation: Buses run regularly from the airport to Liverpool, offering an economical choice.
Traveling to the Festival by Train
For visitors coming from other cities, traveling by train to Syracuse, NY, and then heading to the festival is a scenic and relaxing option. Here’s a guide on how to get to the festival from major nearby cities by train:
From New York City:
- Board an Amtrak train from Penn Station to Syracuse.
- Upon arrival at the Syracuse Regional Transportation Center, take a taxi or rideshare to Onondaga Lake Park.
- Take an Amtrak train from South Station to Albany-Rensselaer.
- Transfer to a Syracuse-bound train.
- From Syracuse Regional Transportation Center, opt for a taxi, rideshare, or bus to reach the festival.
- Depart from 30th Street Station on an Amtrak train to Syracuse.
- Use a taxi or rideshare from the Syracuse station to the festival.
- Travel with VIA Rail to Niagara Falls, NY.
- Transfer to an Amtrak train to Syracuse.
- From the Syracuse station, a short taxi or rideshare ride will take you to the festival.
If you liked Lights on the Lake, you might want to check out these other amazing lights festivals as well:
The Lights on the Lake festival welcomes visitors to its twinkling wonderland each evening, beginning at 5:00 PM and continuing until 10:00 PM. This timing allows guests to fully experience the enchanting transformation of Onondaga Lake Park as it becomes a luminous landscape under the night sky.
Whether you’re planning an early evening visit to enjoy the initial glow of the lights or a later excursion to bask in the full radiance of the displays, the festival’s hours are designed to accommodate a variety of schedules and preferences. Embrace the beauty of the night adorned with lights, and create memorable moments under the starry canopy of this magical event.
How Much Does It Cost to See Lights on the Lake
Attending the Lights on the Lake festival is both a magical and affordable experience, with ticketing options tailored to different group sizes and visiting days. It’s important to note that tickets can be purchased online only, ensuring a smooth entry process and helping manage the flow of visitors. Here’s a breakdown of the ticket prices:
- Vehicle (16 passengers or less):
- Monday to Thursday: $10
- Friday, Saturday, and Sunday: $20
- Mini Bus (17 to 25 passengers): $24
- Motorcoach (26 passengers and above): $75
In addition, the festival offers special pricing during its Charity Nights, which are set for January 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. On these nights, admission is just $5, providing an excellent opportunity for visitors to enjoy the festival while supporting a good cause. These nights are not only a chance to experience the stunning light displays but also a way to contribute to the community in the spirit of the season.
Weather and What to Wear
Visiting Liverpool, New York, during the Lights on the Lake festival from November through January, you’ll encounter a range of winter weather conditions. The temperatures in this period typically vary, reflecting the transition from late fall to the heart of winter.
- November: The month begins with milder temperatures, averaging around 35°F to 50°F, but as the month progresses, it gradually becomes colder.
- December: This is a true winter month in Liverpool, with average temperatures ranging from 25°F to 35°F. Snowfall is common, adding to the festive atmosphere of the festival.
- January: Often the coldest month, with temperatures frequently hovering between 15°F and 30°F. Snow and icy conditions are typical, making it a winter wonderland.
Given these varied and chilly conditions, it’s essential to dress warmly to fully enjoy the festival. Here are some clothing recommendations:
- Thermal Layers: Start with a thermal base layer to retain body heat.
- Insulated Coat or Jacket: A waterproof and windproof outer layer will keep you warm and dry.
- Warm Trousers or Jeans: Pair these with thermal leggings underneath for extra warmth.
- Winter Boots: Choose boots with good insulation and grip, suitable for snowy conditions.
- Hats and Gloves: A must-have to protect against the cold, especially during evening hours.
- Scarves and Neck Warmers: These add an extra layer of warmth around the neck and can be pulled up to cover your face if it gets too chilly.
- Warm Socks: Thick, woolen socks or thermal socks are ideal to keep your feet warm.
- Layered Clothing: Layering is key. It allows for adjustments based on your comfort and the changing temperatures throughout the evening.
Where to Sleep – Hotels Nearby
After a mesmerizing evening at the Lights on the Lake, retreat to one of the nearby hotels for a comfortable and convenient stay, each offering unique amenities to enhance your experience.
Super 8 by Wyndham Liverpool/Clay/Syracuse Area
- Location: Conveniently located a short drive from Onondaga Lake Park.
- Description: This 2-star hotel provides a cozy and budget-friendly accommodation option.
- Amenities: Guests can enjoy free parking, making it easy to visit the festival. The hotel also offers complimentary breakfast, perfect for starting your day before exploring the area.
Best Western Plus Liverpool – Syracuse Inn & Suites
- Location: Situated within easy reach of the festival site.
- Description: A 3-star hotel that combines comfort with convenience.
- Amenities: Features an indoor pool, offering a relaxing dip after a day out. Free parking is available, ensuring hassle-free visits to the festival and surrounding attractions.
Staybridge Suites Syracuse (Liverpool)
- Location: Just a stone’s throw away from the Lights on the Lake.
- Description: This 3-star hotel is known for its welcoming atmosphere and modern facilities.
- Amenities: Pet-friendly, making it an ideal choice for those traveling with furry friends. Guests also benefit from free Wi-Fi, keeping you connected during your stay.
Where to Eat
Whether you’re looking for a hearty meal, a quick bite, or a unique culinary experience, the area surrounding Lights on the Lake boasts a variety of restaurants to satisfy every palate. Here’s a closer look at some popular dining spots:
THE KABOB HOUSE
- Location: Conveniently situated near Onondaga Lake Park.
- Description: This Mediterranean restaurant is a haven for lovers of rich, flavorful cuisine.
- Specialties: They offer an array of vegan dishes, catering to diverse dietary preferences. Signature dishes include Fried Kibbeh, a savory meat and bulgur wheat delicacy; creamy and smooth Hummus; and the Medi Chicken Burger, a fusion of Mediterranean spices and classic American fare.
Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant
- Location: A short drive from the festival, perfect for a post-light show meal.
- Description: Offering traditional Mexican meals in a contemporary and inviting setting.
- Specialties: The restaurant’s menu features delights like Nachos Supreme, a perfect blend of crunch and flavor; Carne Asada, grilled to perfection; and Chicken Flautas, a crispy and savory treat. They also offer a kids’ menu, making it a family-friendly choice, and their margaritas are a must-try.
- Location: Located in the heart of Liverpool, close to the festival activities.
- Description: A favorite among locals and visitors alike, known for its delicious and creative pizza offerings.
- Specialties: The menu includes a range of pizzas to suit all tastes, including the Vegetarian Pizza, loaded with fresh veggies; the Buffalo Chicken Wing Pizza, combining spicy chicken with cheesy goodness; and the Hawaiian Pizza, a sweet and savory classic.
More Things to Do in the Area
Beyond the sparkling allure of the Lights on the Lake, the Liverpool and Syracuse area offers a plethora of attractions, each providing unique experiences and adventures to enhance your visit. From scenic parks to engaging wildlife encounters, there’s something for everyone to explore:
Onondaga Lake Park
- Location: Situated along the shores of Onondaga Lake, adjacent to the Lights on the Lake festival.
- Description: Known as the “Central Park of Central New York,” this park is a hub of outdoor activity and scenic beauty.
- Activities: Enjoy walking and biking trails, rent a kayak or a paddleboard, or simply relax by the lake. The park also hosts various community events and activities throughout the year, making it a vibrant place to visit.
Rosamond Gifford Zoo
- Location: Located in Syracuse, a short drive from Liverpool.
- Description: This zoo is a popular destination for families and animal lovers, known for its commitment to conservation and education.
- Activities: Home to over 700 animals, the zoo offers a chance to see everything from majestic elephants and rare snow leopards to playful penguins and exotic birds. Interactive exhibits and educational programs make it a fun and informative experience for all ages.
Clark Reservation State Park
- Location: Nestled just southeast of Syracuse.
- Description: A natural wonder, this state park is famous for its unique geological features and diverse ecosystems.
- Activities: Hike the nature trails to explore glacially formed cliffs and wetlands. The park is also a great spot for bird watching, fishing, and enjoying a picnic amidst nature. The highlight is the glacial plunge basin lake, offering a serene setting for reflection and relaxation.
A Final Sparkle: Wrapping Up Your Unforgettable Visit to Lights on the Lake
As the Lights on the Lake festival draws to a close, we reflect on the unforgettable moments spent under the shimmering canopy of lights. This festival is not just an event; it’s a celebration of community, warmth, and the joyous spirit of the holiday season.
We invite you to carry the magic of these lights in your heart, letting their glow brighten your days long after the last bulb has dimmed. Until next year, when the lights once again dance along the shores of Onondaga Lake, we bid you a sparkling farewell filled with warm memories and anticipation for future festivities.
Is there parking available at the festival?
Yes, there’s ample parking available for visitors. The parking areas are well-marked and located close to the festival entrance for convenience.
Can we bring our pets to the festival?
Pets are welcome at Lights on the Lake, but they must remain inside your vehicle throughout the drive-through experience for safety.
Is smoking allowed at the festival?
Smoking, including e-cigarettes, is not permitted within the festival area to ensure a comfortable experience for all visitors.
Are there restroom facilities available?
Yes, there are restroom facilities located at various points throughout the park for your convenience.
Is the festival accessible for visitors with disabilities?
Absolutely. The festival is designed to be fully accessible, ensuring everyone can enjoy the light displays.
Can we take photos or videos of the light displays?
Yes, photography and videography are encouraged! Share your magical moments but please ensure that camera flashes are off to maintain the ambiance.
Is there any food available for purchase at the festival?
While there are no food vendors directly within the festival, there are numerous dining options nearby in Liverpool and Syracuse.
What should we do in case of an emergency?
In case of an emergency, please contact the nearest staff member or call local emergency services. Safety measures and personnel are in place to ensure a swift response.