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Bigger and brighter: The Magical Nights of Lights returns

IF YOU GO

• What: Lake Lanier Islands Resort’s The Magical Nights of Lights

• When: Nov. 18-Jan. 1

• Where: Lake Lanier Island Resort, 7000 Lanier Islands Parkway, Buford

• Cost: $40 Mondays to Thursdays, $60 Fridays to Sundays for passenger cars accommodating one to nine guests. $90 for ten to 19 passenger capacity vans. $250 for 20+ passenger capacity buses.

• For more information: Visit www.lakelanierisl...

BUFORD -- One of the Southeast's leading holiday destinations for families' returns tonight at Lake Lanier Islands Resort. With a host of new features and possibilities, The Magical Nights of Lights flips the switch to open the season.

"We have a lot of families who this is a holiday tradition for," said Grier Todd, chief operating officer at Lake Lanier Islands Resort. "They come out every year to roast marshmallows and drive through the miles of lights. It's a fun environment that has something for the whole family."

The traditional holiday favorite is the seven-mile driving tour of the islands set aglow with twinkling illuminations that are inspired by the stories of Santa's elves at work, the North Pole Express, Jack and the Beanstalk, as well as "The Twelve Days of Christmas" song. In past years, the stunning Icicle Tunnel has been a highlight as well.

"This year we have taken a little different approach and we have created new promotions and interactive events for the guests," Todd said.

In addition to driving through a wonderland of thousands of glimmering lights, this year there will be new Night Light Canopy Tours, a Big Screen Nativity Show, a Coca-Cola Holiday Caravan and a Magical Nights of Lights Show Tent.

Night Light Canopy Tours are located adjacent to Holiday Village and allow guests to pretend they are "a stealthy elf" making their way "from "Santa's sleigh to a series of rooftops" by gliding on a zip line. After bundling up and hooking in, four zip lines and a scenic sky bridge will provide an exciting, picturesque adventure.

Along the Magical Nights of Lights driving route, visitors can take a prolonged pit-stop to observe the meaning behind Christmas with a drive-in Nativity movie.

Keeping the holiday classically festive, Coca-Cola's Holiday Caravan will include 25,000 red and white sparkling lights and The Jolly Old Elf. Guests from Dec. 7 through 11 can catch a glimpse.

Possibly the most anticipated new feature is the Magical Nights of Lights Show Tent.

The Lake Lanier Islands' mascot "Bucky Beaver," Jingles the Christmas Elf or a strolling group of carolers might greet newcomers. The big-band sounds of a local marching band could welcome and entertain families.

The all-new production of "I Can't Wait 'Til Christmas" will offer favorite holiday songs. Guests can step inside the warmed tent and be treated to free entertainment nightly.

As always, the Holiday Village features bonfires for roasting marshmallows, vendors selling hot cocoa, a petting zoo, carnival rides and games, holiday shopping and a chance to visit with Santa Claus. All kids are advised to bring their Christmas wish lists.

"It's a great deal for the family," Todd said. "Pony rides will be great for younger children and the carnival will feature rides."