Lights of the South might only be open to the public for about one month out of the year, but the site requires constant attention from owner Benjamin Bell.
“It’s all year round,” Bell said of the upkeep and planning for the spectacle that boasts more than 5 million lights in more than 700 displays. “I replaced all the lights this year. I’m constantly changing out stuff.”
Lights of the South is open from 6 to 10 p.m. nightly from Wednesday, Nov. 20, through Dec. 30. The site will be closed on Christmas Day.
Replacing 5 million lights was quite a feat. Bell said he wiped out the inventory of two of his distributors during the process, and he has added about 20 displays this year. He’s tight-lipped about what’s new because he said returning guests like the surprise of seeing the new displays and figuring it out on their own.
One secret he did share is that Santa’s Castle now has music to coordinate with its lights.
Bell started Lights of the South in 2005. He had been inspired by a Columbia County neighborhood that had been turned into a drive-through Christmas attraction of sorts because so many houses were lavishly decorated.
“I decided when I did mine that it wouldn’t be a drive-through. It doesn’t feel the same. That’s why I have the hayride. People love it. They come and roast marshmallows.”
A drive-through is over too quickly, he said. People can take the leisurely hayride or walk through to enjoy the sights and sounds at their own pace.
Besides Santa’s Castle, there are lighted displays of storybook characters and a large American flag. There is a Christmas maze available for an added $3.
Concessions are also available at Mrs. Santa’s Kitchen, and photographs can be taken with Santa.
Lights of the South is at 633 Louisville Road in Grovetown at Interstate 20 Exit 183.
Admission is $5.95 for children ages 4-17; $8.95 for adults; and free for children 3 and younger.
For more information, visit www.lightsofthesouth.com.