25 years of Callaway Gardens’ Fantasy in Lights

PINE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – Fantasizing about gigantic displays of Christmas lights was only a dream until 25 years ago. That’s when Callaway Gardens first introduced Fantasy in Lights.

We headed north to check in with our neighbors in Harris County about an event that’s put Callaway Gardens in the national spotlight.

If you want to see 8,000,000 lights this time of year, you look up in the sky on a clear night or you can head to Callaway Gardens for Fantasy in Lights. The unique Christmas light display was born out of an idea from Callaway Gardens co-founder, Virginia Callaway. Her fondness for the lights at her childhood home in Pelham, Georgia was passed along to Callaway Gardens President Scott Anderson back in 1992.

“He actually brought in a team who created Disney’s electric light parade and they created Fantasy in Lights,” says Rachel Crumbley.

It featured just five scenes when it opened. Now it has fifteen. And it was among the first, if not the first, extravagant Christmas light show in the southeast. And it really caught on!

“The third year they had 345,000 people come. Now that’s more than twice what we have today because so many people have emulated us,” says Crumbley.

But Callaway insists there are some aspects to Fantasy in Lights that are truly unique.

“There’s not a show that is something you ride through or drive through, where the entire thing is dedicated to Christmas or nature, and there’s not a lot of commercialism, and that has dedicated speakers in the woods for the music verses a radio station, that you have the option of going through in a trolley,” says Crumbley.

The commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Fantasy in Lights, they’ve added a new scene called Snow Day.

“That’s what Snow Day is all about.. that excitement of no school, you’re going outside and play, and it doesn’t matter how old you are,” says Crumbley.

Fantasy in Lights has been recognized by the readers of USA Today as one of the top five best public light displays in the country. To say it’s huge at Callaway is an understatement.

“Fantasy in Lights for both Callaway Gardens and Pine Mountain has become the year. It is the biggest thing we do,” says Crumbley. “It means and is so much more than people ever expected.”

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