Millions of bright twinkling lights portray nostalgic scenes from Christmas past and bring new life to our favorite Christmas characters at one of the premier holiday light extravaganzas in the country. Whether you are reminiscing or creating new memories, the Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights is a delightful way to celebrate the joys of the season.
Oglebay Park, the home of the Winter Festival of Lights, has the distinction of being a self-supporting municipal park, the only one of its kind. Ohio Valley native Earl E. Oglebay moved to the Wheeling area after making his fortune as a Cleveland industrialist in the shipping business on the Great Lakes. He purchased the 25-acre Waddington Farm from his mother-in-law’s estate. Over the years he expanded the original farmhouse into today’s impressive mansion with several notable additions including the front portico. The estate expanded to over 750 acres by the time of Oglebay’s death in 1926. Several original buildings remain, and others have been restored to complete the estate that people visit today.
Upon his passing in 1926, Earl Oglebay left his estate to the people of Wheeling for “so long as it shall be used for purposes of public recreation.” Two championship golf courses, 2 standard golf courses, a par 3 course, 11 tennis courts, a large swimming pool, and extensive walking trails contribute to the fulfillment of that stipulation.
Several annual events ensure that this beautiful park is a popular destination for residents from a multi-state area. However, none of these can match the notoriety and popularity of the Winter Festival of Lights. What began in 1985 as a 3-mile drive through 125 acres of the park has expanded to more than 300 acres in a 6-mile drive. Today over one million LED lights are incorporated into 90 lighted attractions. In addition to the drive by displays, guests can enhance their experience with the “Gardens of Light” and the Good Zoo’s “Lighting and Music Extravaganza.” Special packages that include meals and lodging are also available.
It is easy to see why it is estimated that the festival will attract over one million visitors, including 3,000 tour buses from more than 36 states.