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Leland In Lights: Everything You Need To Know

The Town of Leland has a gorgeous FREE lights display with over 100,000 lights, animatronic holiday scenes, and more. Now through January 10, 2022.

A tree lit in Founders Park in Leland, NC with the words "Everything You Need To Know About Leland In Lights" digitally written above it.

We live in a small town. Well, it’s not that small anymore. It’s actually the fastest growing town in North Carolina and the population has doubled since we moved here.

But it still has that small town feel, with festivals and movies in the park and free concerts by local bands.

Those three things all happen in Founders Park (113 Town Hall Dr), which is where Leland In Lights takes place.

Butterfly tree in Airlie Gardens, decorated for Christmas, with the words "25 Christmas Things To Do In Wilmington, NC" written on top.

Leland In Lights in just one of the Christmas things to do in the Cape Fear region.

For more, check out our 25 Christmas Things To Do In Wilmington, NC and 25 Christmas Things To Do In Fayetteville, NC posts for more holiday fun in the region.

Leland In Lights: Everything You Need To Know

Leland In Lights had its inaugural season in 2020, which was perfect for a socially distant celebration.

This year it’s back and even better than expected.

Leland In Lights’ Grand Illumination is December 4, 2021 and the lights go on daily until January 10, 2022. The lights turn on at 6 pm and are on until about 9 pm each night.

Quick note: The town’s Facebook page says “on all night” but many residents have commented driving by at 9:15 pm and the lights were off.

Leland In Lights is a completely free walk through event for residents and non-residents of Leland.

Animatronic scenes at Leland In Lights depicting snowmen playing baseball.

The town started putting the lights and animatronic displays up on October 18, although they remained off until the Grand Illumination on December 4.

Residents who went to the park to walk or to the Senior Center or library, located at the front enter of the park, were able to see the unlit displays. In fact, you can still visit the park during the day to see the unlit displays.

The displays don’t come down during the day, which is why the Founders Park Disc Golf Course has been closed since November 1.

The 9-hole disc golf course was always meant to be temporary, according to this. I’ve heard the town proposed a more permanent course at Loblolly Park on Kay Todd Road.

Lighted trees at Leland In Lights.

Leland In Lights: Frequently Asked Questions

Where can you park for Leland In Lights?

Parking is available at four public lots.

Three are at Founders Park itself (the two near the Senior Center, off Town Hall Drive and one is off Perry Ave., between Village Road and Animal Control).

The fourth is the public parking lot available at Town Hall.

For the Grand Illumination, overflow parking is available at First Baptist Church of Leland. During the Grand Illumination, a shuttle will run between the church and the park. This shuttle and parking area are not available any day other than December 4.

Is Santa at Leland In Lights?

If you’re looking for an animatronic Santa, you’ll find two at Leland In Lights. There’s one Santa in the back of the park, near Old Fayetteville Road, waving from an animatronic fire engine. There’s a second Santa near the little library, on Town Hall Drive, waving next to a snowman.

As far as Santa in the flesh, he’ll be at the Grand Illumination only. He’ll have a workshop there and kids will be able to visit with Santa, sit on his lap, and share their Christmas lists. Santa’s Workshop will be set up behind the craft tents.

Santa won’t be back any other time during the season and his workshop will be removed after the Grand Illumination. The craft tents will only be available that day as well.

If you’re looking for the big man, check out this Where To See Santa In Wilmington, NC post.

What’s the Leland Express train schedule?

The Leland Express train made its debut at Leland Homecoming/Founders Day in November.

The Leland Express will be back for Leland In Lights, running the same path through the back portion of the park that it ran on Founders Day.

The train ride takes about five minutes and goes past the lights in the back half of the park. The line starts on Town Hall Drive, down near Town Hall (where the Town of Leland Incorporation Pokémon Gym is, if you play Pokémon Go).

Adults are permitted to ride the 26-foot train, although I wouldn’t consider it accessible for wheelchair bound passengers.

The schedule for the train is December 4, 10, 17, and 18 from 6 pm to 8 pm.

The town is showing the movie Elf in the park on December 11 at 5:30 pm and the train may run that day, if time permits.


Restaurants in Leland, NC near Leland In Lights

If you’re coming to Leland In Lights, you may want to have dinner either before or after walking through the display.

Luckily, we have two lists filled with restaurants in the area. One is of Leland, NC restaurants and the other is filled with eateries in Wilmington (which is the town over from Leland).

Other Christmas light displays near Leland, NC:

Leland In Lights is one of the best Christmas light displays in coastal Carolina, but it’s not the only display in the area. There are a few others that are within driving distance of Leland, NC.

Hummingbird and flower Christmas light set hanging at Enchanted Airlie at Airlie Gardens.

Enchanted Airlie

Enchanted Airlie is the Christmas lights display in Airlie Gardens. You pay per carload, but it’s a walkthrough display.

The display is open on November 26 and 27, then again from December 3 to 22 with arrival times at 5:30, 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 each night. Advance tickets are required.

Enchanted Airlie has been a Wilmington, NC staple since 2005 and sells out every year.

Nights Of A Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens.

Nights of a Thousand Candles

Brookgreen Gardens, a botanical garden in Murrells Inlet, SC puts on Nights of a Thousand Candles every year.

The event starts on November 27, then happens each Wednesday to Sunday until December 20, then revives from December 26 to 31. It’s open from 4 pm to 5 pm each of those days and you’re able to stay the entire time.

There are over 2,500 candles and countless lights displayed throughout the garden. It has been dubbed the “Best Christmas Lights in South Carolina” by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

A single family home decorated in over 50,000 Christmas lights.

254 Buff Court

Leland is lucky to be home to the Ford Family, a real life Griswold family. The Fords have lit up their home on with one of the most incredible home light displays since the 90’s.

But not always in Leland.

Tyler Ford serves in the Coastguard and is currently stationed in the area. He’ll receive new orders and the family will move next year, so 2021 is the last year that Leland residents can see the display of over 50,000 lights at Buff Court (in Birch Creek).

The display acts as a fundraiser for the Love of Christ Ministries, and non-perishable items (as well as monetary donations) can be left as donations at the Ford’s home.

Have you been to Leland in Lights? Tell us what you thought about it in the comments.

Rebecca Payne

Wednesday 29th of December 2021

Thank you for ALL of your posts in 2021. I can't wait for 2022. Happy New Year.

drugstore diva lisa

Wednesday 29th of December 2021

You are so sweet. Happy New Year to you and yours!