The holiday season doesn't officially begin in Central Texas until they open the gates at Nature in Lights.

The beloved tradition begins anew Friday, November 13 out at Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area, or as we affectionally call it around here, BLORA.

Gates open from 5:30 PM to 11 PM November 13, 2020 through January 3, 2021. Gate fees are as follows:

$20 -- Car, Mini-Van & Pick-Up
$35 -- Limos, 15-Passenger Van & RVs
$55 -- 24-Passenger Van
$80 -- 47-Passenger Van or Larger Bus

The entrance is located at the intersection of Sparta/North Noland Road and Cottage Road. Here's a Google Map to help you get an idea.

If you're new to the area or have never been to Nature in Lights, you have got to make it out there. It's 5.5 miles of beautiful outdoor light displays that you drive through.

There are different themes ranging from the 12 Days of Christmas to Santa's Village, and signs will tell you which radio station you'll need to dune in to for music that compliments the sights. Just be sure to dim your headlights as you're going through so the person in front of you can enjoy the lights as well.

Jason Eisenberg | TSM
Jason Eisenberg | TSM

Speaking of Santa's Village, there's one about halfway through Nature in Lights that you can visit, and yes, Old Saint Nick will be there.

Here's the Santa's Village schedule:

5:30 PM to 11:00 PM

Thurs - Sun (Nov 19 - Dec 6)
Nightly (Dec 10 - Dec 24)

Normally the village is located indoors, but it'll be outdoors this year due to the ongoing pandemic. Be sure to make up while you're there, and as a courtesy please wear a mask when interacting with the gate staff and any other folks working with BLORA. We want to spread Christmas cheer, not germs.

Santa's Village will feature vendor booths, crafts, a photo stand-in, and more.

Before I forget, there are pony rides at the BLORA Ranch just east of the Cottage Road entrance. Rides are $5 per person.

Click here to see a detailed map of the Nature in Lights layout. On a clear night with a bright moon, you can sometimes see the water from lake Belton during part of your trip through the displays. I love it.

I don't want to post too many images and videos in case you or your kids have never been, because that would spoil the fun. All I can say is that I've gone every year of my adult life and it's never gotten old. Christmas lights are my favorite part of this time of year, and the staff and volunteers at Fort Hood Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation do such a great job with the displays.

Keep the tradition alive or jump into it for the fist time this year at Nature in Lights!

Oh, and be sure to watch for our display. It's the coolest. (I may be biased.)

Jason Eisenberg | TSM
Jason Eisenberg | TSM

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