Celebration in the Oaks recommends you purchase tickets well in advance because the park fills up quickly due to high demand. Also, Saturdays are the most popular nights so be sure to get there well in advance!
With the holidays upon us, often we become nostalgic for family traditions. Having young children is a great time to begin establishing traditions of our own, and Celebration in the Oaks is a tradition that I believe everyone should incorporate into their family’s holiday time.
I have enjoyed Celebration in the Oaks since its inception in the mid-1980s, and since then I venture into the exceptional beauty that is the oak trees of City Park lit, glowing and glittering with lights almost every year. I can remember walking through the brisk air with my father and stepmother as a young girl, peering up into the eyes of giant, glowing snowmen. Even in high school at Newman, our friends would go in one of our parent’s vans, all packed in together to drive through to see hundreds of twinkling stars dangling alongside 100-year-old Spanish moss. The time brought us together, brought warmth to our hearts and, quite literally, light to our eyes.
This holiday delight quickly gained notoriety as a holiday spectacular. The event now boasts more than 165,000 spectators, and hundreds of thousands of state-of the-art lights throughout 25 acres of parkland, including the Botanical Gardens, Storyland and the Amusement Park and Carousel Gardens. Children and adults alike are awestruck by the illuminated wonderland, and a visit on foot or by automobile is a great tradition to commence or continue with any group of family or friends alike during this magical time – they’ve even been known to be the backdrop for young lovers to get engaged.
Many different events happen during the Celebration in the Oaks season, including a family focused event called “Family Party” where mom and dad can sit back, relax and let the kids roam freely beneath blankets of twinkling lights. Walking around and ready for photo-ops are Stormtroopers and Jedi, characters from Frozen, a Christmas tree stilt walker and even an juggler dressed as an elf. Included at the event are American kid food classics such as pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken fingers and mac and cheese. Live entertainment and unlimited rides on the carousel and the train are offered to delight the whole family.
For young adults at least 21 years of age, they offer an event called “Jingle Bells and Beer,” which is a great way for families with kids away at college to experience Celebration. A beer garden is set up in Storyland where craft beer may be sampled, and food vendors supply nachos, jambalaya and gumbo along with other tasty treats. An added bonus at this event is the ugly sweater contest!
The season of Celebration in the Oaks is not to be missed, and hopefully will become or remain a tradition for families to enjoy with their kids for a lifetime. Once seen, the nostalgia for the glowing oak trees will forever be on everybody’s hearts for many seasons to come.
Just the Facts:
Open: November 24-January 1, 2018 excepting: November 27-30 and December 25 and 31
Monday-Thursday 6-10 p.m.
Friday 6-11 p.m.
Saturday 5-11 p.m.
Sunday 5-10 p.m.
Note: Last entry is 30 minutes prior to closing
Tickets: Celebration in the Oaks: $9 per person; free for Children under 3 and Friends of City Park Members
Train Ride: $5 per person (Train ticket sales on-site end 1 hour before closing, at which time you cannot join train line. Individual train tickets may be used in place of any single ride ticket for any other ride in Carousel Gardens.)
Amusement Park Rides: $4 per single ride ticket (excludes train); $18 per unlimited ride band (includes train, must be purchased at event)
Notes: Tickets are good for any event night during the current season.
No refund for closing due to rain, power outages, or other unforeseen conditions.
Minors 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult 21 years or older.
Anyone 21 years or younger should be prepared to show a driver license, state ID or passport before purchasing a ticket.
Wheelchairs available at front gate first come, first served.