As the countdown to Christmas begins, there are festivities and lights at every turn. But nowhere as much as at Old Scugog Road in Bowmanville. If you live in the far east of the Greater Toronto Area, you may have been let into the secret and Old Scugog Rd may already be a part of your annual Christmas checklist.
But even if you live further away, you may consider driving east to check out this beautiful display of lights. Especially in a year like 2020, when the pandemic around us has restricted what else we can do for the festive season. While shopping at malls, family get-togethers and annual dinners at the local restaurant have become dangerous ventures (thanks to an over-excited virus), a drive within one’s cozy car definitely seems safe.
However, Old Scugog Road has a charm and beauty that reigned even before the pandemic. And will continue to do so, as long as the neighbourhood keeps up its friendly competition to outdo each other with their Christmas décor.
For over 30 years, the residents of Old Scugog Rd have gone above and beyond in decorating their majestic homes for Christmas. Lights abound in thousands, blown up Santa Clauses and snowmen look merry. Spotlights, LED projectors, and Ferris wheels light up the sky. Don’t be surprised to see movie screens with Christmas movies playing!
If all this sounds exciting, get ready to drive over. But before you do, here is a list of tips that will make this experience even more fun for you:
The first time we went to see the Festival of Lights at Old Scugog Road, it was impulsive. We were with some friends on a Saturday evening a week before Christmas and we all suddenly decided to go check out the lights. The next minute we hopped into the car and fifteen minutes later, we were stuck in an unending traffic jam at the north end of the road. After twiddling our thumbs for the better part of an hour, and having seen nothing but the lights on the back of the car in front of us, we turned around and returned home. Our little one had fallen asleep long ago.
The next time, we went on a weekday. We left soon after dark so that our son would be able to enjoy the lights well before bedtime. We entered from the south end of the road and were prepared to wait if required.
And that brings me to the hot chocolate. Be prepared for line-ups, waiting times and a slow drive around the road. We sat back with a hot chocolate in our hands and already the festive mood was starting to set in.
It got even better when we put on a Christmas songs playlist in the car. We have done the Old Scugog Rd drive one year without music in the car- and of course, it was gorgeous. But the year we put on the music, it felt like we had been transported into a world of Christmas!
Especially if you have kids, make it festive. Dress up in your holiday sweaters, pass the candy cane around, sing along with the music and enjoy a mini-festival in the cozy warmth of your car.
While the lights grasp your attention, it is easy to forget that real people live behind those magical lights and walls. Some of them may be trying to get back home. Many other visitors would be there to see the lights, especially if you plan to go on a weekend. Try not to pull over. Driving slowly in a rhythm with the other cars helps keep the traffic flowing.
There are many courts along Old Scugog Road which you can drive into, to check out the decorations. It is common courtesy to drive in and out of the courts on the right, rather than to criss-cross between courts. You may turn around at the end of the road and return to drive into the courts on the other side. Photographs are best clicked from inside your car, and if you have to get off, it should be only to donate in the food boxes.
And needless to say, those hot chocolate and coffee cups should stay in your car.
Many of the homes that put up the festival of lights leave a Food Donation box outside. If you enjoyed the display and would like to do a good deed, you may want to donate some non-perishable food items.
If your nights begin late, keep in mind that the lights at Old Scugog Road may not wait for you. The display usually turns off by 10pm, so plan to be there latest by 8.30pm to give yourself enough time to enjoy the exhibition. If traffic is light, the entire tour from one end to the other and back should take about 30 minutes. On weekends, it could take over an hour.
And with that, you are all set to go.
Warm-up those cars, get to Old Scugog Road, sit back and breathe in the magic!
If the Festival of Lights at Old Scugog Road took your breath away, you may want to plan a trip to catch the Fantasy of Lights at Uxbridge!
In Search of Love... a sweet love story!
Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.