One of the best ways to get the holiday season started is with a trip to see the Lake Lanier Lights at the Lake Lanier Islands Resort!

Last year — after 28 years — the Magical Nights of Lights ended and was replaced with the all-new Lakeside Lights Spectacular. The new light show was such a hit, it’s back in 2021!

So what’s new, what’s coming back, and what can you expect when you go?!  We’ve got the scoop!

Photo courtesy: Lanier Islands


Margaritaville at Lanier Islands’ Lakeside Lights Spectacular is the place to go for a night of nostalgic family fun.

The main difference between this new event and the old Magical Nights of Lights is that the Lakeside Lights Spectacular is a walk-through experience, as opposed to the previous drive-through one.

You will go on a magical walk through an amazing light extravaganza along the shores of Margaritaville at Lanier Islands with a holiday music playing in the background.  (Don’t worry!  It’s only a three-quarter-mile walk.)

Along the way, you can stop for photos and purchase seasonal goodies (like hot chocolate!) while enjoying the light displays at your own pace.

The show features one-of-a-kind holiday lights that range from traditional holiday displays (like the 12 Days of Christmas) to high-tech images and Margaritaville-themed scenes.

You’ll see illuminated tunnels filled with lights, a large 3-story light wall, and many other displays too!

Lake Lanier Winter Adventure at Lake Lanier Lights


In addition to your Lakeside Lights Spectacular admission, you can visit License to Chill: Snow Island!

Here you will find snow tubing, ice skating, carnival rides, a fun and snowy play area, plenty of s’mores and hot cocoa, and a gift shop…I mean, Santa’s Workshop.

There is “snow” much to see and do!  (Sorry, I couldn’t help it.)  Here’s what you can expect to find at Snow Island this year.


Trying to create a snow experience in warm Georgia always intrigues me — and this is pretty awesome.

Parrot Mountain is one of the longest snow rides in the United States! Your bigger kids will love to get outdoors and active with adrenaline boosting tubing on the 575-foot-long, eight-story snow slide.


The sights, scents, and sounds of the carnival area will definitely have your kids begging to ride all the things!

Hop on the carousel, the bumper cars, Ferris wheel and more!  Your kids will be thrilled.


Something about gliding around the skating rink goes hand in hand with the holidays!

If you’ve never tried ice skating before, try it out this winter at Frosty’s Skating Rink. It’s a fun way to spend time with family or friends, and great for date night too.


If you’re ready for more snow — or if your kids aren’t yet ready to take on the snow tubing — Snowball Alley is the perfect place for them.

Your kids can play in the snow, challenge their friends to a snowball fight, and make some excellent snow angels at this snow-filled play area.


Don’t forget to visit Santa Claus by the Christmas tree in Santa’s Workshop and get your photo with him!

Lake Lanier will have the meet and greet arranged with your well-being in mind.

Santa’s Workshop is also a gift shop, so after you’ve made your list and checked it twice, you can browse through the store for a selection of merchandise, holiday items, and customized ornaments.


One thing I can promise you?  You will not go hungry during your visit to Snow Island.

Glacier Cafe offers spectacular patio views and family-friendly foods like cheeseburgers, chicken fingers, and more.  The Glacier Cafe Bakeshop offers cookies, cake pops, and s’mores kits so you and your kids can make sweet treats over the fire.

You’ll find the Tipsy Snowman in the carnival area — where you can find cocktails, hot chocolate, cotton candy, popcorn, and snacks.

In the Snow Hill area, Jack Frost’s Shark Shack serves chicken tenders, curly fries, and pretzels.


1. Lake Lanier Islands Lights Discounts. Lake Lanier Island Lakeside Lights Spectacular and Snow Island is magical, but it can also be expensive.  Check out their combo ticket packages, and be sure to follow Lake Lanier on Facebook for any discount announcements.

2. Winter Adventure Pricing. The pricing can get confusing because they offer so many options, but the good news is — there’s something that is sure to fit your plans!

First, no matter which daily admission tickets you choose — you will have to pay the daily $20 parking fee.  (The daily parking fee is included with winter season and annual passes — if you choose to go that route.)

Now, onto the tickets!

You can choose Snow Island Daily Admission — which includes unlimited snow tubing, amusement park rides, ice skating, and snow play.  They sell these as single adult tickets, child tickets, family 4-packs, senior tickets, military tickets, and group tickets, and the prices vary depending on which day you want to go.

If you just want to attend the Lakeside Lights Spectacular, they offer adult, child, family 4-pack, senior, military, and group tickets for just the lights event.  Children 2 and under are free.

And if you want to do both — they offer an All-Access Day Pass that gets you into the light show, and all the fun Snow Island activities too.

They also offer season tickets, which can be purchased inside Santa’s Workshop.

3. Bring Your Own. There are picnic tables at the Holiday Village at Lake Lanier and lots of different choices for food and treats. To ease the burden on your wallet, pack a picnic, including a thermos of hot chocolate and s’more fixings for the huge fire pits. You’ll get all the ambiance without all the expense.

4. Go Early. As in early in the season and early in the evening. It’s less expensive, but it’s also less crowded, which I find especially important on the ice skating rink if you have kids who aren’t experienced skaters.

My children were off the entire week before Christmas one year, so we visited on a Tuesday afternoon. There were no lines at all and the kids were able to ride the carnival rides, the sledding hill, and play in the snow area without waiting.

5. Tips to See Santa. The line for Santa can get really long too, so see the lights just after sunset and then do the photo with Santa as soon as you arrive at the Village, or go during daylight hours to see Santa, then do the lights.

5. Dress Warmly. It can get really cold spinning through the air on the carnival rides. My son thought a simple sweatshirt would do, but as the night wore on, he got cold and wanted to leave well before the others were ready.


To make a visit truly magical, spend the night at the Legacy Lodge at Lake Lanier Resort. They have so many great packages, that make spending the night at the resort even more exciting for your little ones.

Book the Ultimate Santa Package and enjoy a visit with Santa, breakfast buffet and a bed time story and tuck-in with Santa’s favorite elves. 

Or try the Elf Tuck-In Package where your children will enjoy a tuck-in from one of Santa’s elves, with a bedtime story plus milk and cookies.  In the morning, you and your crew can go to Sidney’s for buffet breakfast for the family!

The Elf PJ Storytime Package brings the kiddos out for a PJ party in one of the spacious ballrooms. Santa’s favorite Elves will be reading an exciting Christmas story and passing out hot cocoa and smores kits. The next morning the family will enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet and a visit with Santa.

Overnight packages that include tickets to Snow Island, the Lakeside Lights, or both are also available.

What: Lakeside Lights Spectacular
Where: Lake Lanier Islands, Resort, 7000 Lake Lanier Islands Pkwy., Buford, Ga. 30518 | 770-945-8787
Opens: Snow Island: Nov. 24, 2021 – Feb. 27, 2022;  Lakeside Lights Spectacular: Nov. 24, 2021 – Jan. 5, 2022, then weekends only through Feb. 27, 2022. See their website for hours.


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