Winterlights at Elizabethan Gardens

Holiday lights are rarely more illuminating and impressively striking as the Elizabethan Gardens in the Outer Banks. Filling acre after acre are lights, draped over trees and flower gardens illuminated brightly in the night sky, this is an attraction you won’t want to miss during your next vacation on the Outer Banks.

It is the area’s most spectacular holiday event, as the brilliantly lit historic gardens showcase their full magic and beauty – a true joy to view that can be appreciated by all ages.

The Historic Site of the Gardens

The Elizabethan Gardens (1411 National Park Dr, Manteo, NC 27954) are open year-round to tens of thousands of guests every year.

Interestingly, the gardens are located just feet away from the original home of the 1580s Lost Colonists – a group of English colonists that disappeared during the Anglo-Spanish War, with no explanation as of this day.

The elaborate garden was founded as a living memorial to the Lost Colonists in the early 1950s and now features hundreds of different species of wildlife and native plants, arranged in an artistic and incredible layout along with sculptures and artwork.

Visitors enjoy spending their time at the gardens, taking in the beautiful sights and viewing native plant species. You’ll get a completely different landscape depending on the time of year that you visit.

elizabeth gardens christmas lights

Bright Lights and Holiday Magic

From the last week of November, the entirety of December, and into January, the gardens officially host the Outer Banks Winterlights event.

Lights of dizzying colors decorate the historic site, and visitors from all over walk the trails and pathway to spot their favorite layouts, themes, and styles. During December you will find the Viburnum tinus, nicknamed the ‘Spring Beauty’. Blossoming Japanese Fatsia can also be seen around some parts of the gardens in December.

The grounds become a true Winter Wonderland this time of year. An open-air fire keeps the Great Lawn area warm and pleasant along with free hot chocolate. The spirit is festive with holiday music in the background and families snapping pictures by the large and brightly decorated trees.

Available Dates, Hours, and Cost

The event is held during evenings from 6pm to 9pm. You can visit the gardens beforehand as they open at 9am, but the lights will not be on.

Winterlights is open from Tuesdays to Saturdays and closed on Sundays and Mondays for the month of December. The available days change in January to being open only on Fridays and Saturdays. The last day of the event is January 20th.

The garden will also be hosting a Dinner with Santa gathering on Dec 16th. The package includes time with Santa, dinner seating at 6pm or 7:30pm depending on your reservation time, and access to the Winterlights. The dinner get-together runs to about 9pm and it is $40 for adults, $25 for ages 6-17, and $10 for under 6.

Things to Know

There are a few exceptions. The gardens are not open Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve. All ages are more than welcome while the lights are on full display and open. Adults are $11, children ages 6-17 are $9 and children 5 and under are $6.

The last tickets for entrance are at 8:15pm so be sure to arrive with time to spare if you want to spend a bit of time to enjoy the lights. You can get more information about the event by calling the gardens at (252)-473-3234.

The event can be cancelled due to rain, and the garden leaders are cautious about rain reports because the lights can become a hazard. Visitors can call ahead on the day they plan on going to make sure the event is still on; however, reservations are not necessary.

Get Into the Holiday Spirit at Winterlights

At the Winterlights event, you will get to immerse yourself in the holiday spirit, with hot cocoa, a fire to keep you warm, holiday songs echoing in the gardens and hundreds of thousands of lights brilliantly illuminating the fascinating diversity of plant species that can be found there.

The gardens also have a lovely shop filled with trinkets and gifts and even hosts wedding events throughout the year.

For any further details about scheduling a trip, visiting the grounds, nearby vacation rentals on the Outer Banks, and any other concerns, please call us at (252)-573-2811.


Cola Vaughan Realty
PO Box 1375 • Nags Head, NC 27959
Phone: 252.573.2811
Email Inquiries To: