Gingerbread house, Winter Lights, Elizabethan Gardens.

The Winter Lights of the Elizabethan Gardens are magic. The annual light show at the Roanoke Island gardens are one of the most special traditions that make the Outer Banks a wonderful place to be during the holidays.

There are subtle changes from year to year so that returning each year brings new surprises. Perhaps the small, twinkling lights in the trees that create an almost three dimensional feel to the decorations. It may be the deer nibbling on flowers, or the heron pond, bathed in blue light with green lights marking its boundary.

Yet along with the new, there is tradition—and wonderful tradition. In the middle of the Great Lawn, a huge open space in the middle of the garden, there is a fire pit with a roaring fire. Benches surround the pit and on a bench next to the fire is a bag of marshmallows and tongs to skewer them. Even for the jaded who don’t like marshmallows, the temptation is too great to resist.

There is also a large outdoor screen by the fire pit showing classic children’s holiday cartoons and Christmas music plays throughout the grounds.

There are a number of special events that have been scheduled throughout December, so it’s worth checking out the schedule on the Gardens website. One thing all parent should know—every Friday and Saturday, Santa comes for a visit.

Coming up this Saturday, December 3, is the annual Holiday Feast featuring an all you can eat buffet of traditional holiday foods, including lots of desserts.

Winter Lights is Tuesday through Saturday for the month of December and Friday and Saturday in January 21. Winter Lights will not be hold, however, on Christmas Eve, which is a Saturday.