Springfield’s Bright Nights returns for its 28th Season


Patrick Sweeney, Editor-in-Chief

The holiday season is officially underway in New England, which also means the return of various traditions. Springfield’s Bright Nights “opened for its 28th season” on November 23rd. The display, which opens at Forest Park, has attracted upwards of 6 million people since its inception in 1995. 

Recently, Holyoke High School Senior Samantha Brennan visited Bright Nights. Her visit was nothing short of extraordinary. 

“It was unlike anything I have ever witnessed. Driving through Bright Nights brought joy to myself and the entire car of people I experienced it with,” Brennan stated. “The event is wonderful for the community and truly encapsulates the holiday season.” 

If you visit the Bright Nights website, it mentions how the tradition began “with a flyer from Carpenter Decorating.” Since then, it has gained ground, leading to modern-day success. The Bright Nights website references the many awards bestowed upon the event, including being awarded one of the “Top 100 Attractions in North America.” 

Still, these awards have not stopped Bright Nights from expanding their display even further. Designers have created many new light displays in recent years. One of the more recent ones was a Springfield Thunderbirds showcase, created after the arrival of the AHL team six years ago, per MassMutual

Visitors also enjoy the returning light displays present at Bright Nights every year. Take, for example, the “Seussland” section, featuring characters from the famous author’s books. Bright Nights also appeals to board game lovers, with intricate designs from popular games such as Monopoly. 

However, the light displays are not the only factors that attract visitors to Bright Nights. Families with young children will enjoy visiting Santa’s Magical Forest, which is a short detour off the main road inside Forest Park. Children can pose for a picture with Santa and shop for Christmas decorations and holiday chocolates and candies. The Magical Forest also features a mailbox in which kids can drop off their letters to Santa. The annual “Visits with Santa” will be taking place on “Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays through December 23,” per the Bright Nights website. 

Visitors looking to save money on ticket prices should look no further than the $10 Tuesday event, which will be taking place on December 13. Tickets must be purchased in advance, either online or from local retailers such as Big Y.

Adults also have the opportunity to attend the last “Zoo Night” of the year on December 14th. This event from 5-8PM, features a unique experience with animals. Attendees have the ability to purchase “grain cones” to give to their furry friends. The event culminates with attendees gathering in the on-site barn for a “complimentary beverage.”  

Those looking to make an evening out of their visit to Bright Nights have many options in the local community. Before leaving Springfield, visitors should consider trying one of the many local restaurants, featuring everything from Italian to Mediterranean cuisines. A popular tourist destination is Red Rose Pizzeria on Main Street, just outside the MGM Casino grounds. Families should be aware that the restaurant becomes extremely busy on the weekends, so prepare accordingly. 

Visitors looking to explore new flavors should look no further than Nadim’s Downtown Mediterranean Grill, which features a very diverse menu. The various kabobs are a local favorite as well as the hummus and Nadim’s famous wings. Just down the road is Student Prince, a German fare restaurant that is currently in its 87th year. The local area welcomes you to enjoy an evening in Springfield! 

Bright Nights is not the only event bringing large crowds to the Springfield area. The Springfield Thunderbirds also host various home games at the MassMutual Center throughout the season. Those interested in attending a game should check out the Thunderbirds website for more information about pricing as well as special events.