A Family Tradition: Lights on the Lake celebrates 30 years

2018 Lights on the Lake. Michael Davis Photo

A lot has changed since Lights on the Lake began 30 years ago. For one, the show has grown to two miles. And today, all lights are now LED. The event returns to Onondaga Lake Park this month.

Debbie Dennis, senior recreation leader for the park, is entering her 13th season as the coordinator for Lights on the Lake. She says the popularity of the show is part of the reason why it has been able to continue for so long.

“We do hear a lot of feedback from people that they came as children and now they’re able to bring their children here,” Dennis says. “People do it as a tradition and they like to carry it on from when they were younger and now do it with their children or with their grandchildren. We’re very consistent with our numbers.”

According to information provided by Onondaga County Parks, 43,420 vehicles visited Lights on the Lake during the 2018-19 season, second only to 43,623 vehicles in 2017-18. This year’s show will feature several new pieces, including a 10th birthday display for Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. Also new this season, a 5K will be held on Nov. 17 to celebrate Lights on the Lake’s 30th year. The event will begin at 6:30 a.m. so runners are able to see the displays.

“We’re just very excited and privileged to keep doing this in the community and to have the support that we have and working on it together,” Dennis says. “It’s just rewarding for me professionally and personally, and I think everyone here feels the same way.”

Lights on the Lake opens Nov. 14 and continues through Jan. 5. 

For more stories about Lights on the Lake, pick up a copy of the program at the event.

Tips for Families

With Lights on the Lake right around the corner, you may be planning a trip with your family. Here are a few tips to help things go a little more smoothly:

  1. Dennis says that weekends are typically the busiest times at Lights on the Lake. If you want to avoid a long wait time, your best bet is to come during the week or right when the show opens at 5:00 p.m. on weekends (the end of the show is also typically less busy).

  2. Weekends are when Lights on the Lake is most expensive. Dennis recommends bringing your Wegmans Shoppers Club Card for $6 admission on Mondays and Tuesdays or you can take advantage of the walking preview on Nov. 12 (a $2 donation is encouraged). Advance sale tickets are also on sale (for a discount) at local Wegmans locations until opening night. All active and retired military members can get free admission during Salute the Troops Night on Nov. 14.

  3. Don’t want to leave your furry friend at home? Check out the Dog Walk on Nov. 13. Donations will benefit HumaneCNY.


If You Go

Onondaga Lake Park, 106 Lake Dr., Liverpool.
Dates: Nov. 14 – Jan. 5
Hours: 5-10 p.m.

$10 from Monday – Thursday and $20 from Friday – Sunday.
All prices are per car and the ticket booths only accept cash.
More information:

[fbcomments url="" width="100%" count="on"]

Most Popular

To Top