Morgan Yingling | NowPlayingNashville
Heading up the bend that brings you to the entrance of the Cheekwood grounds, you can see them – Holiday LIGHTS – peeking ever so slightly through the trees. They come in purple and green, pink and yellow, and a childlike nostalgia slowly begins to build as you’re immediately met with an illuminated archway of tiny, twinkling lights amid a dark sky.
The 55 acres of garden at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens resemble a picturesque Christmastime village, like something in a snow globe, or a ceramic dreamscape atop a fireplace. There are small huts, glowing with warm, rich light, that offer spirits and hot chocolate, small snacks and keepsakes. A large pen houses two of Santa’s reindeer — the real deal — as children stand in awe of the creatures they’ve seen in pop-up books and movies.
And, mind you, this is just the beginning of Cheekwood’s annual “Holiday LIGHTS” display.
With 1 million lights, the grounds are overwhelming, but in an “everything feels right with the world if only for a second” kind of way. From unseen speakers, Frank Sinatra croons “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” as families and friends walk the winding path, grinning ear to ear at the wonder of it all. Trees are drenched in little buds of color. There are clusters of rainbow-tinted lanterns, and red-and-orange holiday stars are strung throughout the display. Giant flowers created entirely from hundreds of tiny bulbs loom from above.
There’s a point during which you reach a miniature train set winding around an impressively long, complicated track, with lights flashing to the beat of music. You can’t help but follow the engine as it speeds under bridges and through tunnels, making an endless loop around Santa’s Workshop. There’s even a build your own s’mores station, where families can gather around a crackling fire pit to roast marshmallows for the perfect winter treat. And of course, last but not least, you can visit the big man himself — Santa Claus.
Cheekwood’s “Holiday LIGHTS” is a local treasure not to be missed. There’s a specific feeling, a mood that comes from immersing yourself in such a timely, holiday tradition on such a magnificent scale. So set aside time to grab a cider, see the twinkling lights, and take in all the wonder and joy this holiday season brings you.
Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood
Image 1 of 6
Photos by Morgan Yingling | © NowPlayingNashville