Harbor Lights Winter Festival ready to brighten up the holidays again this year

Tickets are now on sale for the festival, which is set to run Nov. 26 through Dec. 31.

GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Twinkling lights will brighten up Jones Park in the coming weeks as the annual Harbor Lights Winter Festival prepares to open for the holiday season.

The Harbor Lights festival is set to open this weekend, and this year’s show might be the biggest one yet. With more than two million lights, this year’s festival boasts 40 acres of Christmas displays, including several new attractions.

Each year, guests find all the things that are expecting to see, like the dancing trees and Santa’s Headquarters, as well as a few new surprises. This year, a third train has been added to take families through a tour of the lights and for a visit to see Santa in person.

The festival was canceled last year after receiving damage from Hurricane Zeta, but this year is set to be better than ever.

“We did have some damage during Hurricane Zeta but we’re back up and running,” said Gulfport Communications Manager Jase Payne. “We’re looking forward to people seeing the dancing trees, getting their pictures taken with Santa. We had to add an additional train this year so now we have three trains that will bring you through the park and get a full tour. And so we’re looking forward to it. We got the Ferris wheel back, all the rides and we’re just excited to see people back in Jones Park.”

Since it began in 2015, the Harbor Lights Winter Festival remains the largest Christmas lights display in the Magnolia State. A few years ago, Harbor Lights was the backdrop to a Lifetime movie called “Christmas in Mississippi,” which helped bring even more people to Gulfport for the festival.

Each year, Harbor Lights opens the weekend after Thanksgiving and this year is no exception. Gates are set to open Friday, Nov. 26 and remain open through New Year’s Eve. The festival will, however, be closed on Christmas Eve.

Tickets are on sale now on the Harbor Lights Winter Festival website. General admission is $15 per person, with children ages 4-12 getting in for $5. Children under 4 get in free. Admission includes a visit with Santa, where you can take pictures. Santa will be in Santa’s Village from 6-10pm every night the show is open except on Christmas Day when he has to leave to deliver gifts.

Free parking is available at the Coast Transit Authority (CTA) parking garage north at the corner of 15th St. and 20th. Ave. The CTA shuttle will transport guests to and from the show every 15 to 30 minutes. Free parking is also available at the west entrance of Jones Park at the corner of Hwy 90 and 49. Both parking locations provide handicap accessible parking spaces and assistance.

Tickets can be used any night that the show is open. Rides, food, and other activities are not included in the cost of admission. Rides cost between $3-6 each. To purchase tickets to the Harbor Lights Winter Festival, click here.

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Lindsay Knowles

Lindsay Knowles

Lindsay was born and raised in Pascagoula, and attended the University of Southern Mississippi where she earned a bachelor's degree in psychology.