Ah IllumiNights; at last it has arrived. For most of the late spring, Busch Gardens Williamsburg teased us with a bombardment of TV commercials, miscellaneous ads and signs around the park, fliers, Facebook posts, and blog updates about a mysterious, never before seen event. The promise of fireworks every night along with a European cultural themed extravaganza from June 28th through August 22nd was tantalizing for an ultimate park guru like myself.
Needless to say, June 28th could not get here fast enough!!
Busch Gardens has done an excellent job promoting IllumiNights and for those of you who have yet to go, the event actually lives up to all the proceeding hype. Thank goodness. I would have been completely bummed had the day gone sour; but once more, Busch Gardens Williamsburg delivered!
IllumiNights is a celebration that spans the entire park with unique shows featured around the various countries. The magic starts at 5pm and continues on until 9:30pm when a Fireworks Display that is simultaneously set to an amazing original soundtrack, concludes the festivities. Since all the individual performances repeat themselves during the evening, one can plan on seeing all the performances in the park at a leisurely pace.
The event mainly focuses on cultural references. There is a Parisian themed parade through New France; complete with poodles, cancan dancers, entertainers, and much to my joyous surprise, a resurrected La Mans car! Yes, the Le Mans car is alive and well! In Germany, the Festhaus has been transformed into the world’s largest living Cuckoo Clock; where every hour starting at 5pm, the clock comes alive and is guaranteed to make you smile through the whole performance. Italy has acrobats scattered amidst the area of Da Vinci Gardens where they perform stunts of amazing skill. Ireland has a cute little show that features 20 foot puppets, special effects, and a charming story of a Leprechaun and a Fairy Princess.
Keep in mind that Busch Gardens cannot compete on the scale of Disney’s Magic Kingdom obviously; but for a relaxing fun filled family entertainment excursion, I was greatly impressed. Much like Christmas Town, it wasn’t about rides; it is about wholesome entertainment that will build wonderful memories. The park looks spectacular in all the illuminated splendor as the sun sets and the park changes atmosphere. The Griffon Coaster stands tall with light fantastic shining magically upon it in the evening hours while various other locations also have a new look for the festivities.
If all this wasn’t enough, Busch Gardens free concert series begins this weekend (July 10th and 11th) starting with one of my favorite bands from the 80’s, the B52’s. Each weekend will showcase artists such as Creedence Clearwater Revisited, The Bangles, The Fixx, David Cook, Grand Funk Railroad, and Emily Osment. Did I mention the concerts were free??
And if you do not have a season pass, never fear; Busch Gardens has provided numerous discounts and reduce priced options for everyone. So regardless if you are a season pass holder or not; you have to put IllumiNights on your to do list. It is my hope that the event builds momentum and is an annual tradition with new, exciting twists added each year!
Illuminights Image Gallery