WRAL Nights of Lights: A New, Family Friendly, COVID-Safe Holiday “Drive-Thru” Experience Inside Dorothea Dix Park

WRAL Nights of LightsIn a year of unprecedented change and disruption, WRAL-TV, in partnership with the City of Raleigh, and with support from Artsplosure/First Night Raleigh have joined forces to provide a new holiday experience: WRAL Nights of Lights.

Taking place along a 1.3-mile route inside Dorothea Dix Park, the event aims to provide an opportunity for the community to celebrate the holidays in a safe, crowdless environment. Along the route, attendees, safe inside their vehicle, will enjoy the oaks of Dix Park wrapped in holiday lights as well as many holiday-themed light installations.  Artsplosure, the organizers of First Night Raleigh will also activate several local art installations along the route.

“The WRAL and Capitol Broadcasting Company teams were committed to finding a way to help Triangle families experience some ‘holiday spirit’ this year. So many traditions and experiences have been cancelled or disrupted. We worked hard to come up with a safe way to offer some ‘light’ during a time that has been dark for many,” said Joel Davis, Vice-President and General Manager of WRAL/FOX 50. “We are so grateful that the City of Raleigh was willing to partner with us on what we hope will be a new and lasting holiday tradition. This year and every year, WRAL remains committed to the people of our community.”

WRAL Nights of Lights map

For map and FAQ’s visit wral.com/lights

Safety at “Nights of Lights”
The event is coordinated as a “COVID-safe” experience, with all tickets purchased electronically in advance and handled with onsite ticket scanners rather than paper tickets. The event is planned to run from Wednesday, December 16th through Thursday, December 31st.  Ticket prices start at $10 and a portion of available tickets will be given to several Triangle area non-profits over the course of the event.

The event is strictly drive-thru. No pedestrians or cyclists are permitted on the route during Nights of Lights.
Frequently asked questions, the link to purchase tickets and the map route can be found at wral.com/lights. Tickets go on sale Saturday, November 21st at 11 a.m.

“This holiday season is going to be unique for so many of us as COVID continues to impact our community,” said Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin. “I want to thank Artsplosure and WRAL for their forward-thinking approach to Nights of Lights. I look forward to participating and know that many, many families will as well. This is a great way to celebrate the season together while staying safely apart.”

Artsplosure and First Night Raleigh
Artsplosure will present a series of creative and large-scale commissioned light installations by local artists that will be featured throughout the event footprint. A premier large-scale collaborative installation will be created by North Carolina artists Nate Sheaffer and Mary Carter Taub that will be available for viewing only on December 30th and 31st in celebration of First Night Raleigh 2021.

“The board and staff of Artsplosure are grateful to WRAL and the City of Raleigh for the opportunity to enhance the inaugural Nights of Lights festival with elements of First Night Raleigh,” said Artsplosure Executive Director Michael Lowder. “The primary focus of First Night has always been to gather our community together in celebration of the arts and a common purpose. In the age of COVID, this platform gives us a unique setting to continue this tradition.”

On December 30th and 31st, say goodbye to 2020 with a one-of-a-kind, special edition of First Night Raleigh 2021 at WRAL Nights of Lights. Experience the Raleigh Acorn like you’ve never seen it before, nestled among Raleigh’s oak trees and enhanced by a specially-commissioned, locally-made lighting installation. Throughout the evening, enjoy musical playlists curated by Raleigh creatives in the comfort of your car to celebrate the coming of a new year.

The Light Installation
The light installations and themed drive-thru design are managed by Vortex Pro Wash, a local Raleigh business that has been serving our community since 2001 and handled both residential/business holiday light installations since 2014.

Vortex Pro Wash lighting designers Nick & Melissa Rhodes plan on lighting the route with over 400 varied lit displays and over 5,000 strands of lights, including a 25-foot-tall LED Christmas tree.

“We are working vigorously to get Nights of Lights prepped and ready to go for this unique holiday season. Vortex Pro Wash is so proud to be a part of a new holiday tradition and we cannot wait to see months of planning come to fruition!” said Melissa Rhodes of Vortex.

Enjoy holiday music as you drive the route
From 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. each night, enjoy continuous commercial-free Christmas music playing while you drive through the display. Nights of Lights attendees, along with listeners across the area can tune in to “The Triangle’s Christmas Station MIX 101.5 FM” for holiday music every night of the event. Also, look for your favorite MIX 101.5 personalities broadcasting live along the Christmas light route.

“We’re honored that listeners make MIX 101.5 a part of their families’ holiday traditions as the most-listened-to radio station. Christmas music puts people in a happy place, and we could all use a little holiday cheer right now. This is the thirteenth consecutive year WRAL-FM will provide the soundtrack for the season as The Triangle’s Christmas Station,” said Sammy Simpson, Radio Brand/Content Manager for MIX 101.5. “Our team is excited to include this new tradition to help light the night skies with the audience to make home for the holidays even more special. “

The Durham Bulls Wish the Triangle Happy Holidays
Also along the light route, expect to see a special display from The Durham Bulls Baseball Club. While the baseball season may have been interrupted in 2020, the holiday spirit of the Bulls has remained intact and ready to “play ball!”

“The Bulls may have had a challenging 2020 season, but our commitment to our community has never been stronger,” said Mike Birling, Vice President of Durham Bulls Baseball Club. “ We are looking forward to this opportunity to wish Bulls friends and fans ‘happy holidays’ this December.”

WRAL Nights of Lights sponsors

About Dorothea Dix Park:
Dorothea Dix Park is the site of one of the most exciting new park projects in America. 308-acre site blends historic architecture and rich landscapes into a unique destination in the heart of Raleigh, North Carolina. The effort to create Dorothea Dix Park is a public-private partnership between the City of Raleigh and Dorothea Dix Park Conservancy. The City owns and operates Dorothea Dix Park. The Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that exists to support the City by serving as its philanthropic partner. Learn more at dixpark.org.

About Artsplosure
Artsplosure is an independent nonprofit organization that presents arts festivals in Raleigh, including its namesake spring festival since 1980 and First Night Raleigh since 1991.  Its mission is to produce quality events that make the works of the most imaginative and celebrated artists accessible to the public, all in an effort to enrich our community and inspire greater love for the visual and performing arts.

Artsplosure is funded in part by the City of Raleigh based on the recommendations of the Raleigh Arts Commission and is also supported by the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

For more information visit  www.artsplosure.org

Thanks to WRAL-TV for this capcom story & for these capcom graphics.

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