Sunday 7 December 2014

Festival of Lights

For the past 5+ years Mom and I have visited the Hamburg Festival of Lights while in the Buffalo area. We would usually go when we were Christmas shopping – which used to be the first or second weekend of December. Once we made the switch to Black Friday shopping we started planning to visit it that weekend (which was the Festivals opening weekend) so we wouldn’t have to make the trip back down. This plan was perfect and allowed us to accomplish everything in the area all in one weekend – shopping, shipping gifts to my US family and seeing the light displays. However this year the plan got changed because of the snowstorm that wrecked havoc on Buffalo the week before Thanksgiving. When we were down for Black Friday the festival postponed the opening until the following weekend due to the insane volumes of snow they had.

Regardless Mom and I had a great weekend - we had our Thanksgiving dinner and spent all night/weekend shopping (we started shopping at 12:30am and kept going until 4:00pm!) but something was missing. It may seem silly but the Festival of Lights has become something special to us and it was sad having to miss it. Fortunately the following weekend Mom and I managed to make a second trip down just for the Festival. We stayed at the new Holiday Inn in Hamburg and for the first time ever did NO shopping! We went only for the festival and stuck to that plan!

Every year the Festival changes and new things are added. While the light displays that you drive through remain similar (a few new ones have been added each year) the other aspects keep being developed. The first few years it was a little kitschy and fun with these cute little sheds made out to be a little Christmas village that you walked through. Inside the buildings there were some snack carts, a children’s midway, a cookie decorating station and an area to see Santa. Every year since a little more has been added/changed. This year had the most impressive light display that we drove through and then we walked through the Christmas Tree garden which was stunning. Inside the buildings there was one with ice sculptures which were Frozen-inspired and many more vendors then there have ever been. One vendor was selling these delicious flavored nuts which was worth the purchase!

They had a really cool snow globe that you could go inside of and get photos in as well as a completely re-done North Pole building that was beautifully decorated. Mom and I went inside to look around but the wait for Santa was about 2+ hours so we just took a few photos and left. Everything else remained the same – we wrote our annual letter to Santa, decorated a cookie (for the first year ever my cookie turned out better then hers!) and walked inside the buildings. Another cool thing they added was firepits where you could make your own s’more – which of course I had to try. Sadly the reindeer rides had been replaced but it was probably too cold to be doing that!

We had a great time at the festival and it was definitely worth the second trip down to Buffalo. I love the Festival and Lights and our annual tradition and look forward to next Christmas.

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