Take the Kids: Hill Ridge Farms lights up the night with drive-through Festival of Lights
Posted December 3, 2020 9:15 p.m. EST
Youngsville, N.C. — For years, Hill Ridge Farms has been a go-to spot for families across the region to play nearly all year with a sprayground in the spring and summer, a pumpkin patch in the fall and a sprawling farm-themed playground.
But the destination in Youngsville has stayed mostly shuttered in 2020 other than opening briefly with a sunflower patch this summer. Until now, that is.
A revamped version of Hill Ridge's popular Festival of Lights has returned. No, the playground isn't open. And no, you won't be viewing the massive Christmas light display while you ride with others in a hayride like past years.
Instead, visitors drive along a more than mile-long trail through the farm inside their own vehicle. They can tune into a radio station on their FM dial to listen to holiday music if they'd like. The trail is lit, so you can just use your parking lights to enjoy the lights and stay safe as you cruise through.
The attraction opened Nov. 26 and runs through Dec. 27. Hours are 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., nightly.
My family piled into the car with candy canes in hand on Wednesday evening for a drive up to Youngsville, which is about 40 minutes away from central Raleigh, to see the lights.
We'd been to the Festival of Lights before, and the display is very similar to the massive display of past years. Lights swirl in the trees. They form characters and Christmas scenes on the ground. Small snowman shoot "snow" at strategic points, which my younger daughter especially enjoyed.
On a random Wednesday night, it wasn't busy at all. We cruised right into the the farm and staging area where you buy your ticket. It costs $20 per vehicle to drive through. No reservations are required, but know that while they take credit cards or debit cards, paying in cash is faster and preferred.
There were a couple of cars in front of us and a couple behind us. But we felt comfortable stopping a few times to take a picture or open the windows near the "snow." (Just be sure to stay in your car at all times.)
It took us about 25 minutes from entrance to exit and, throughout the time, my family was just happy. Happy to be out of the house. Happy for the Christmas season. Happy to be singing a few Christmas songs together. And happy to have somebody work so hard and thoughtfully to help us celebrate.
And really, in 2020, that's pretty much the best.
Hill Ridge Farm is at 703 Tarboro Rd., Youngsville. Much more information is on Hill Ridge's website. If you want to avoid crowds, go during the week like we did when there are fewer visitors. We had no wait at all. The Festival of Lights is much busier on the weekends.