Jolly holiday news

Prairie Lights holiday drive-thru unwraps reduced prices and new COVID-19 measures

Prairie Lights holiday drive-thru unwraps new prices + COVID measures

Prairie Lights drive-thru holiday lights
Don't worry — the grand finale tunnel will be back. Photo courtesy of Prairie Lights

A Dallas-Fort Worth tradition 15 years strong, Prairie Lights holiday light park is returning for 2020 — with some modern updates for the COVID-Christmas season, and one special gift for guests.

The popular drive-thru lights experience will kick off Thanksgiving night and run through December 31, according to a release.

Per usual, the dazzling display of over 5 million lights, all arranged in festive holiday scenes, will wind for two miles along the shores of Joe Pool Lake in Grand Prairie. Given that most of Prairie Lights is enjoyed by car, visitors will need to make few adjustments for social distancing, organizers say.

But the park’s out-of-car experience, the Holiday Village — the traditional stop midway through with hot chocolate, cookies, and other goodies for sale — will not open this year due to pandemic. It will be replaced by a new drive-thru concession option, they say. 

Santa also has different plans. 

"Since Santa is practicing social distancing, he won’t be able to make his annual visit to the Prairie Lights Holiday Village," the release says. "However, he will be offering virtual greetings via personalized video messages sponsored by the Grand Prairie Chamber of Commerce and available after November 1 via the Prairie Lights website."

One positive change this year is the price. Admission has been reduced to $30 per car (up to eight people) — down from last year's $45. A Fast Pass (line jump pass) is available for $99. 

A shuttle or van holding up to 30 people is just $60, down from last year's $100. There are additional fees for limos and commercial vehicles. 

Prairie Lights welcomed more than 29,000 vehicles and 165,000 guests last year alone, says Duane Strawn, executive director for the city’s Parks, Arts, and Recreation Department, and they are expecting an even larger turnout in 2020.

“Given the challenges of this year, people need something fun, exciting, and comfortingly familiar to look forward to this holiday season — and for thousands of North Texans, that’s Prairie Lights,” he says in the release. “People also need to know that they’re going to enjoy a safe experience, and given the fact that we already have 14 years of practice under our belt when it comes to offering a large-scale, drive-through only experience — plus the minor safety adjustments we’ve made to this year’s event — we’re quite confident that we’ll be able to meet our guests’ expectations.”

They offer the following tips for visitors this year:

  • Pre-purchase of online tickets is highly recommended, both in consideration of minimizing “touch” and in keeping park admission lines moving as quickly as possible.
  • Allow plenty of time to fully enjoy the park — at least 45 minutes on slower nights, and up to three hours on holidays and weekends. Longer wait times are also anticipated once schools dismiss for winter break.
  • Guests are encouraged to have masks on hand for possible interactions with park staff at the entrance gate or at the park’s public restroom area.
  • Drive-thru concessions will be available via card purchase only (no cash). 
  • Follow Prairie Lights on social media for special offers (such as the annual Prairie Lights “Cyber Monday” ticket sale the Monday after Thanksgiving) and for inclement weather announcements.  

Prairie Lights is the third big DFW holiday lights event to announce its arrival. A new "holiday light spectacular" called Radiance will debut in Frisco, Weatherford, and Decatur. An immersive experience called Luminova Holidays promises millions of twinkling lights, an outdoor ice rink, and larger-than-life displays in and around Arlington's Globe Life Field.

Other popular yuletide events, including Fort Worth's Parade of Lights and Arlington's Texas Christkindl Market, are going virtual this year.

Prairie Lights will be open nightly, 6-10 pm, from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve. The entrance is at Lynn Creek Park at Joe Pool Lake, 5610 Lake Ridge Pkwy., Grand Prairie. For more information, visit the website.