After a successful inaugural run last year, the Franktown Festival of Lights has returned to continue a new Christmas holiday family tradition with the addition of Santa’s Village.
The drive-through light festival, presented by Franklin Synergy Bank, is set up at the Williamson County Ag Expo Park along Long Lane south of Franklin. It will continue running from 6 to 10 nightly through Dec. 28, including Christmas Eve and Christmas night, even if it rains.
Tickets are $25 per carload of 14 or fewer passengers, $35 for a large vehicle with 15 passengers or more, $100 per coach or bus and $45 for limousines.
Veterans and first responders as well as Williamson County School District and Franklin Special School District students, faculty and staff are eligible for a $5 discount by using the appropriate promo code, “HEROES” or “PENCIL.” Tickets may be purchased at the gate or online at www.franktownlights.com.
Families and friends can sit in their vehicles and listen to Christmas classics on their own radio while watching more than 200 light displays.
Many of the light displays are whimsical, with Santa a prominent figure, as well as Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph and characters from the “12 Days of Christmas.” The display also provides reminders of the reason for the season, including a Nativity scene and the Hanukkah menorah in honor of the Jewish holiday that coincides with Christmas.
After riding through the display, stop by Santa’s Village, made possible by Lee Co., and enjoy some hot chocolate, cookies and photo with Santa under a big tent.
Also inhabiting Santa’s Village are a variety of very friendly goats, adorable alpacas and sweet llamas, a camel family — the adults provide rides — and other exotic animals. Activities include a ride on a Ferris wheel, a few carnival games and a photo op with a capuchin monkey named Don Juan. Keep an eye out for the Grinch doing his grinchy best to steal the show.
Those who work up an appetite can enjoy fresh waffles, funnel cakes, mini donuts and roasted nuts. Tickets are $2 each and may be purchased in the big tent.
“Last year, we had 50,000 cars come through,” said Chris Barnhill, executive director of the organization. “This year, we’re anticipating 75,000.”
Barnhill added, “It takes a village to put on an event of this magnitude. I can’t thank enough Franklin Synergy, Lee Co. and all our sponsors and community volunteers. This happened because of all their support.”
The festival benefits Franktown Open Hearts, a Christian-based nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring, empowering and equipping at-risk youth in Franklin and changing the trajectory of their lives.
“There is abject poverty in Williamson County,” Barnhill said. “We believe these kids have talents and dreams. Franktown is a place where kids learn skills. Not only do they learn skills, they learn confidence. We’re changing lives and giving them hope.”