November has arrived, heralding the start of the holiday season. Can you feel it? The most wonderful time of the year is nearly upon us. Each day brings us closer to garlands and baubles, visits with Santa, and - of course - Christmas lights.

What would the holiday season be without those strands of merry light? The brilliant glow of colored bulbs is quintessential to the holidays. I've always believed that the merriest of memories are made beneath twinkling strands of lights - and Brian Welper and his jolly team of Christmas light decorators at Tough Guys Landscaping and Lighting agree with me. For the second year in a row, Laramie and visitors to the Gem City will have a chance to make such memories beneath the dazzling lights of the  Winter Lights Festival at Washington Park.

The Winter Lights Festival at Washington Returns to Laramie in 2023

"Growing up, I always loved holiday lights." Brian Welper said as we chatted about this year's festival. His venture into bedecking Washington Park for the holidays is a natural extension of that love, one that took several years to achieve. "We wanted for the last two or three years to do a community event," Brian said, "and last year, we came up with the Winter Lights Festival in August."

Between August and November of 2022, Brian and his team planned a holiday display that would highlight Laramie businesses and give back to the community. Over 40 companies sponsored the event last year, supporting the festival to remain accessible to the public. Sponsors receive recognition for their donation with a special sign on their light display. Many sponsors will head to the park for several nights during the festival, enjoying time spent with their community members.

Brian couldn't express enough gratitude to the sponsors of this and last year's event. "It's really cool to see sponsors from Uptown and Downtown Laramie come together to make this event happen. It says a lot about the Laramie community."

Santa Claus & Hallmark Movies: Bringing Holiday Cheer to Washington Park

"I remember last year seeing kids and families playing in the snow under the Christmas lights," Brian said, a tinge of wistfulness in his tone. Such joyful fun is precisely what the festival at Washington Park is all about. As Brian put it, "The festival is for children and hopeless romantics."

It's no surprise, then, that the festival features all the motifs of a Hallmark movie. Twinkling lights, hot chocolate, giggling children running through the snow, and the prerequisite visit from Santa Claus.

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After countless hours of planning and installation, 51,000 LED bulbs, and 25,000 LED strips, the Tough Guys squad produced a magnificent display of holiday cheer at Laramie's Washington Park.

This year's festival will be bigger and brighter than 2022, promised Brian. "Last year, our Grand Opening welcomed over 2,000 visitors. We are prepared for more this year...We're planning several special events."

Washington Park Festival of Lights, Courtesy of Tough Guys Landscape & Lighting and Jessica Nicole Photography
Washington Park Festival of Lights, Courtesy of Tough Guys Landscape & Lighting and Jessica Nicole Photography

The new additions to the festival include a sensory night with fewer lights and noise, a senior night with golf cart rides around the park, and a nonprofit concessions night, allowing local nonprofits to raise funds at the festival. And, of course, the king of Holly Jolly himself - Santa Claus - will appear at the Grand Opening.

Winter Lights Festival at Washington Park Grand Opening Details

On November 24 at 6 p.m., a police escort will guide Santa Claus safely to Washington Park. As kids ring jingle bells provided by the festival, the jolly elf himself will plug in the Christmas lights, heralding the start of the Winter Lights Washington Park Festival.

After the festival begins, kids can take their photo with Santa (and share any super important Christmas list updates while there.) There will be music and fun galore, with plenty of surprises in store. New displays, a gorgeous tunnel of lights, and fun new features at the playground are just a few of the features Brian promises will display this year.

The festival will run from November 24 until the end of January, seven days a week. After the Grand Opening, the lights will turn on daily from 4 to 9 p.m. The event is free and open to all. For more information on the Winter Lights Festival at Washington Park, click here.

LOOK: 25 over-the-top Christmas displays from across America

To help get everyone in the mood for the upcoming holiday season, Stacker compiled a list of some of the most over-the-top Christmas displays across America.

Gallery Credit: Annalise Mantz & Madison Troyer

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