‘Constant stream of people’: Ellicott City Lights features festive fun and a way to give back

Ellicott City Lights, in Howard County, Maryland, is back this year with a goal of collecting food for those in need.

Ellicott City Lights, in Howard County, Maryland, is back this year with a goal of collecting food for those in need.

Ellicott City Lights, in Howard County, Maryland, is back this year with a goal of collecting food for those in need.

Ellicott City Lights, in Howard County, Maryland, is back this year with a goal of collecting food for those in need.

Ellicott City Lights, in Howard County, Maryland, is back this year with a goal of collecting food for those in need.

Ellicott City Lights, in Howard County, Maryland, is back this year with a goal of collecting food for those in need.

Ellicott City Lights, in Howard County, Maryland, is back this year with a goal of collecting food for those in need.

Ellicott City Lights, in Howard County, Maryland, is back this year with a goal of collecting food for those in need.

(1/8)

A holiday light display in Howard County, Maryland, has been growing every year. After taking a break because of the pandemic in 2020, the event is back and bigger than ever.

If you drive down Red Hill Way in Ellicott City, it’s hard to miss.



“We’re up to about 80,000 lights,” said Bryan Bartlett, who started Ellicott City Lights with his family 12 years ago. “It’s just been a constant stream of people coming through.”

The display includes free popcorn and candy canes, music and a bright colored light-up dance floor.

“I’m trying to incorporate more and more things that are interactive for the kids,” Bartlett said.

They were featured on ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight” in 2015 and got a big boost in visitors. “We grew twice as big at least since that year,” Bartlett said.

And for Bartlett it’s a chance to give back. He collects donations for the Howard County Food Bank.

In 2019, they collected 2,116 pounds of food. This year, he said, he’ll have to take at least three trips to donate the food they’ve collected so far.

“We kind of forget that there’s still a lot of neighbors and everything that are struggling. So you know, try to do what you can,” Bartlett said.

The display runs from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. each night through New Year’s Eve.

Susan Woodward lives in the area said they look forward to it every year.

“We drive by in the evening and still look at the lights and drive by it every day,” Woodward said.

Tara Hopkins, who lives a mile down the road, said she loves that the display has a local flavor. Her favorites?

“Absolutely the Maryland crab and the Maryland flag. It definitely represents and puts us on the map,” Hopkins said.

Find details on how to visit and donate to the food bank on the Ellicott City Lights Facebook page.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow WTOP on Twitter and Instagram to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2021 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up