The year 2020 has been memorable for a lot of reasons, many of them not so fun. However, there is one thing to celebrate this year. Enchanted Land of Lights & Legends, the annual holiday lights extravaganza, that takes place every holiday season in Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Regional Park, is still going strong. In many ways, this drive-through event is the ideal holiday activity for a pandemic, giving families the perfect socially distanced way to drink in the beauty of holiday lights from the safety of their cars, trucks, and SUVs.
If you’ve lived in Pine Bluff for any length of time, it’s hard to imagine a holiday season without Enchanted Land of Lights & Legends. You may not realize that this event is simply a continuation of a tradition that started nearly 27 years ago.
Before the inception of the Enchanted Land of Lights & Legends in 1997, Pine Bluff commemorated the holiday season with the Celebration of Lights festival. This event was launched in 1993 by the Pine Bluff Downtown Development, Inc. with help from downtown businesses. At the time, lights decorated the Jefferson County Courthouse, Main Street, the Civic Center, and Benny Scallion Park located at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.
In 1997, the Celebration of Lights festival was expanded to the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Regional Park to accommodate additional lighting displays. On November 24, 1997, switches were simultaneously thrown for the first Enchanted Land of Lights & Legends that took place in Regional Park, the Jefferson County Courthouse, and in Benny Scallion Park.
Prior to the opening of the 1997 extravaganza, Jennings Osborne, a Little Rock-based lighting enthusiast and philanthropist, caught wind of Pine Bluff’s expanded holiday display. Osborne donated 20 animated angel lighting displays and 50,000 additional lights to the city, a contribution that catapulted Enchanted Land of Lights & Legends into the regional and state spotlight. The drive-through tour of the Enchanted Land of Lights & Legends won the 1997 Outstanding New Idea from the Arkansas Festival Association, as well as the 2000 Festival of the Year, and the prestigious Classic award in 2006 which is given to festivals that have reached their 10-year anniversary and are still growing.
Today, the festival is operated by the Pine Bluff Festival Association. It continues to be Arkansas’s largest drive-through tour of holiday lights with 1.3 miles of more than 240 displays, many of which are animated. For thousands of Arkansas families, a drive through the sparkling Enchanted Land of Lights & Legends lighting display is an annual tradition that spans the generations. Many youngsters who first experienced the festival with their parents are now taking their own children every year—often more than once during the holiday season.
Enchanted Land of Lights & Legends always opens on the third Tuesday in November and welcomes drive through visitors nightly from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. through December 31. Admission is free for the Enchanted Land of Lights & Legends. Donations are graciously accepted by volunteers at the end of the drive to help maintain and grow the display of lights.
Here at Explore Pine Bluff, we love Enchanted Land of Lights & Legends and we visit every year. We’ll be there this year, too.
Load up the car and take the family thought Pine Bluff’s winter wonderland. You’ll be glad you did!