By Tara Mae
Suffolk County’s festive light shows have returned to illuminate the holiday season. Whether you prefer a starlit stroll or a cozy car trip, the unique displays at the Vanderbilt Museum, Smith Point County Park, Suffolk County Farm and Education Center, and Splish Splash Water Park offer peaceful reprieves from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Now in its second year, Bright Lights, a magical holiday celebration, returns to the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium, 180 Little Neck Road in Centerport.
A collaboration with Redmax Events, the display is open form 5 to 9 p.m. Fridays to Sundays through Dec. 19, and Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 22 and 23. The event features holiday lights, wandering carolers, festive music, tasty treats, and themed light-up displays.
Santa Claus and his friends, including reindeer, snow people, gingerbread people, nutcrackers, and elves, will all be there, portrayed by costumed actors. The Posey School of Dance will perform The Nutcracker on Dec. 17, 18 and 19.
“We’re thrilled to invite everyone to kick off the holiday season and celebrate with us. The decorated Estate grounds will become a winter wonderland,” said Executive Director Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan. “As you walk through the estate at night, it’s as if you’re entering a magical children’s book.”
Admission for members of the museum is $20 per adult, $10 per child age 12 and younger, children under the age of 3 are free. For nonmembers of the museum, admission is $25 per adult, $15 per child age 12 and younger, children under the age of 3 are free. Tickets may only be purchased online. For more information, visit https://www.vanderbiltmuseum.org/events/bright-lights.
Smith Point Light Show
Girl Scouts of Suffolk County’s annual holiday drive-thru display, the Smith Point Light Show, will be held daily (except Dec. 24, 25, 31 and Jan. 1) through January 9, from 5 to 9 p.m. Located at Smith Point County Park Campground 1, William Floyd Parkway in Shirley, it features 1.5 miles of lights on the beachfront land that is part of Fire Island.
“It’s the 18th annual show at Smith Point. The Girl Scouts partner with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone to put it together. Many of the lights and displays were designed by girl scouts who won a special contest and then assembled by Girl Scout staff. The show benefits the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County, including funding for programs, campgrounds’ maintenance, stewardship system, and community outreach,” Multimedia Designer for Girl Scouts of Suffolk County Elena Rios said.
Tickets are sold online or in person. Via the website, tickets are $22 per car and $25 per car at the gate. No cash transactions will be accepted. For more information, visit www.smithpointlightshow.com or call 631-543-6622.
Winter Wonderland at the Suffolk County Farm and Education Center in Yaphank first appeared in 2020, and offers a self-guided walking tour through the grounds of the interactive, educational, working farm, which is a Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Visitors may enjoy the light show, farm animals, and photo opportunities as well as hay rides, hot chocolate, and a lantern craft to take home. The event will take place on Dec. 4, 11, and 18, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“Experiencing the farm at night is super unique and special as we [normally] close at 3 p.m. daily. The farm is magical at night,” said Director of the Suffolk County Farm and Education Center Vicki Fleming.
To attend the show, pre-registration is required. Tickets are $15 per person for people age 3 and older; children under the age of 3 have free admission. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit https://suffolkcountyfarm.campbrainregistration.com. The event ends at 7 p.m.; the last admitted entry is at 6 p.m. For more information, call 631-727-7850.
Located at 350 Yaphank Avenue, Yaphank the farm provide hands-on, research-based learning to participants in its immersive programs, with a focus on agriculture, animal sciences, STEM history, healthy living, and life skills.
Riverhead Holiday Light Show
Now in its fourth year, for the first time the Riverhead Holiday Light Show will be held at Splish Splash Water Park, 2549 Splish Splash Drive in Calverton. The display runs at 5 p.m. on select dates through Dec. 30.
“We’ve got dozens of dazzling, larger-than-life holiday themed displays to delight the entire family! The show is entirely new this year, so returning guests and new visitors alike will be amazed. Visitors are welcomed to bundle up in their car and tune their radio to enjoy the synced light performance as they travel the more than 1 mile route through the Holiday Light Show™,” Marketing Director of Bold Media Madeline Oliveira said. Bold Media produces the event and puts on other holiday light shows throughout the country.
The Riverhead Holiday Light Show syncs to the holiday music playing on participants radios and the displays dance along to the music. And as the largest water park in New York, with over 95 acres to its name, Splish Splash offers plenty of space for a melodious, merry drive.
Tickets are available at http://holidaylightshow.com/riverheadticketcard. General admission is $23 per vehicle and allows admittance for a certain date and time slot. VIP admission is $35 per vehicle and allows admittance for anytime the show is open. For more info, call 631-210-6711.