Lake of the Ozarks shows off its natural beauty for photographers all year, but when it gets dressed up for the holidays, it offers glitz and sparkle that demand a close-up from visiting camera bugs. Thousands of lights reflect the joy of the season off the Lake's quiet waters, adding an aquatic theme to the holidays.
Twinkling lights are the stars of the show at drive-through holiday light parks around the Lake area.
In Laurie, the 20th Annual Enchanted Village of Lights turns the 27-acre Laurie Fairgrounds into a winter wonderland from November 16th to January 1st. Some of the displays are massive - up to 30 feet tall and 30 feet wide - while others come to life through animation. Many are being equipped with LED lights to shine brightly throughout the park. None of them, however, shine as brightly as the eyes of the children who visit, according to Susann Huff, Laurie's events and parks coordinator. "I just love to see the kids' eyes when they arrive," she said. "They can't believe it. It's hard to take it all in."
Work has already begun on preparing the spectacle for visitors, expected to top 16,000 people again this year. The Enchanted Village of Lights opens each day at 5 pm, staying open later on the weekends. There is no charge to drive through the village, but any donations will be put to use in refurbishing and preserving the displays for the future. More information about the event can be found at CityofLaurie.com/EnchantedLights.htm.
Also, just a mile down the road in Laurie is the Lake area's most enduring drive-through Christmas lights event - Saint Patrick's Festival of Lights, celebrating 30 years when the lights go on this Thanksgiving evening. The Shrine of St. Patrick on Hwy. 5 on the north side of Laurie also is the site of the National Shrine of Mary, Mother of the Church, so this festival of lights focuses on Jesus and his mother, Mary. The drive-through festival will be open daily from 6 pm to 9 pm on weekdays and 6 pm to 10 pm on weekends until January 1st. New for this year, the gift shop will be open during festival hours and volunteers will be serving hot chocolate and apple cider. The Festival of Lights is a free event, though donations are accepted.
Versailles joins the lighting celebration from November 26th through January 1st with its own Unity Circle of Lights, featuring 40 lighted holiday exhibits in the Versailles City Park, at the junction of Highways 5 and 52 in Morgan County. The Unity Circle of Lights, too, is offered free of charge to visitors.
Last but not least, Deck the Docks is back for 2013 to light up the Lake of the Ozarks waterfront. Climb aboard the Celebration Cruise Boat for a view of beautiful lakefront homes and docks decorated for the season. This is truly a memorable holiday experience that you can only find at Lake of the Ozarks. Cruises run every Friday and Saturday evening between November 29th through December 28th. Tickets must be purchased in advance for this one-of-a-kind attraction. As an added holiday bonus, a part of the proceeds go to support the Dogwood Animal Shelter. Visit www.cruiselake.com for more information or call (573) 480-3212 to reserve your tickets.
Learn more about all of these drive-through lights parks at: LakeHolidayLights.com/parks. Additional holiday event information can be found on the Lake's most complete event calendar at www.funlakeevents.com.
If you plan to visit the Lake for an extended shopping trip or if you want a beautiful location to host your family's holiday gathering, www.funlake.com has a complete list of Lake homes and condos to bring everyone together under one roof. Make this year's holiday season one to remember.