Over 35,000 people annually visit the Mid-South’s largest holiday lighting festival, Lights of the Delta. Six million lights and 48 major motion displays illuminate the 1.5 mile drive surrounded by lakes and trees. Lights of the Delta opens every year on the Monday before Thanksgiving and closes right after Christmas.
What started as a lighting display has expanded into a complete holiday experience that many visitors consider a holiday tradition. Unique displays, hayrides, visits with Santa and photo opportunities are all part of Lights of the Delta.
Jingle Bell Park lies at the half way point of the drive. Visitors can get out, walk around, and grab a cup of hot chocolate and popcorn. There are several photo opportunities and several displays available for a close-up look. The concession stand also features souvenirs, including ornaments depicting many of the displays. A new ornament is added to the collection every year.
Santa visits Jingle Bell Park every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. The Blytheville High School FFA club sponsors Santa’s Workshop, where children of all ages can a visit with the Jolly Old Elf and get a picture on the spot. Santa’s Workshop and the picture are free to all visitors as a community service by the FFA.
Hayrides are available every night by reservation. Every half hour, two trailers pull out pulled by a tractor. It is the absolute best way to see the lights and, on some nights, the coldest. Each trailer holds up to 20 people and a stop at Jingle Bell Park gives riders a chance to warm up and get refreshments.
But the star of the show is always the Lights. In 2001, Charles “Bo” and Myrna Adams donated 14 displays to Main Street Blytheville. Today, over 48 displays catch the imagination of young and old alike. New displays are added every year, so there’s always something new to see. Many of the displays are unique to our festival, depicting local landmarks and celebrities, including Johnny Cash and John Grisham.
Local sponsors make it possible to keep prices affordable for everyone, with a low entrance fee and half price nights every Tuesday. In 2018, visitors came from all over Arkansas, 37 states and five countries. The Lights have had a positive effect on tourism, since 80 percent of visitors come from outside the Blytheville area.
Light of the Delta. It’s a magical place where memories are made that last a lifetime.
FESTIVALS in Blytheville
Lights of the Delta
Among the many holiday celebrations in the area, The Lights of the Delta is by far the most beautiful. Held at the Arkansas Aeroplex, the mid-South’s spectacular festival of lights is open to the public and attracts more than 20,000 visitors annually. The drive-through holiday wonderland features six million lights including more than 48 major motion displays spread over 40 acres. The historic downtown district in Blytheville also gets its twinkle on with thousands of sparkling lights adorning the shops and streets. For more information, visit www.lightsofthedelta.com
Mayfest is Blytheville’s two-day annual heritage festival. Held on an early weekend in May, the popular event brings thousands of locals and visitors to the downtown streets for live music, arts and crafts vendors, rides, food, fun contests and deep discounts on merchandise in the shops.
Gosnell Cotton Festival
When the leaves begin to turn brilliant colors and there is a crisp coolness in the air, it’s time for the Gosnell Cotton Festival, a fall event that celebrates the importance of cotton as a vital crop in Mississippi County. The family-friendly, two-day celebration brings locals and visitors together for food, crafts, music, hog calling, a dance contest, cakewalk and other fun activities.
Annual Chili Cook-Off
Just in time for fall’s cooler temperatures, the annual Chili Cook-Off brings chili teams from all over the region to share their favorite recipes. Veteran tasters know that for some chili teams, the hotter the better is the motto, while others enjoy stirring in some unique ingredients to give their recipes an edge. The event often features other food competitions, like cornbread, to keep things interesting. When your taste buds can’t take anymore, there are rides, crafts and entertainment to enjoy.
Annual Christmas Parade
One of the most highly anticipated events of the year is the Annual Christmas Parade sponsored by the Greater Blytheville Area Chamber of Commerce. On the first Friday following Thanksgiving, spectators line Main Street to watch local bands, twirlers and colorful floats wind along the downtown route. The floats assembled by local businesses and nonprofit organizations are always quite a spectacle. Sipping a cup of hot chocolate or hot apple cider before or after the event is a tasty tradition.
Farmers Market/Last Saturday
Summer brings a bounty of local produce, and residents and visitors know the farmers market is the best place to stock up on tasty veggies and fruits. The weekly event is held from 8 to 11 a.m. near the historic Greyhound Bus Station. Last Saturday takes place on the last Saturday of the month and features a variety of activities the whole family can enjoy including historic walks, art tours, sales at the Main Street shops, scavenger hunts and more.
Butts on Broadway
A new delight in historic downtown, BOB gives new personality to the traditional Mayfest street festival. It is an all-night affair, cooking of the butts, and the fragrance fills the air for blocks around. Winners are selected but you can bet every butt bite is a good bite–always featuring the iconic pork bar-b-que–a southern delicacy that no one can match.
July in the Park
The beautiful Walker Park is the setting for a great community day each July. Vendors sell their wares. Non-profits tell their stories. Children’s events and a variety of contests give the day an old-fashioned sense of fun. It can get a little warm in July on the Delta–that’s why the pool is nearby and beverages are available all around. Fun for family and friends alike, proceeds benefit local nonprofit agencies.