You won't believe this holiday display with over 300,000 lights spread across ten acres.
My family has been visiting the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette during the holidays ever since I was a little girl. As I grew into adulthood, I continued the tradition of visiting the shrine every year around Christmastime. It doesn't feel like Christmas without a trip to La Salette and the Festival of Lights.
Sometimes I visit the shrine with family, and sometimes I visit the shrine with friends. Most of the time, I visit alone. I enjoy listening to the Christmas music blaring on the loudspeakers while feeling the chilly night air on my face. Nothing makes me happier than walking among strangers and 300,000 illuminated multicolored lights.
It was a massive undertaking when they upgraded all the lights several years ago. They swapped hundreds of thousands of old lights for newer, safer LED lights. I still remember how the old lightbulbs were hot to the touch if you dared to touch them, and they melted the snow around them after a winter storm. The new LED lights are cool to the touch, and they are less of a fire hazard.
There is a room filled with candles where guests can pay to light a candle for a special reason. People light candles as a prayer for a special request or in remembrance of loved ones who are deceased. A statue of Our Lady of La Salette surrounded by candles forms the focal point of the room. More candles line the room in rows. People often kneel to pray in front of the statue.
Part of the attraction at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette is their indoor display of nativity scenes from around the world, the International Creche Museum. Roadside America described the International Creche Museum as "The largest collection of Christmas Nativity scenes in the world, ranging from those that would suit a shopping mall to those that fit on the head of a thumbtack."
They filled the grounds with charming details like the tiny gingerbread house pictured above. In addition to the aforementioned 300,000 Christmas lights and International Creche Museum, the shrine features a food court/cafeteria, gift shop, hot chocolate, cider, a carousel, and Clopper the Donkey. Clopper is a real-life donkey on loan from Clemmey Farm in Mansfield, Massachusetts during the holiday season.
Over the past few months, the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette received multiple inquiries about how they were planning on handling the Christmas Celebration during COVID-19. They compiled a list of guidelines that they have posted for guests this year. The shrine has asked visitors to take time to review their guidelines before visiting, and they shared the following 2021 Christmas Guest Guidelines on the shrine's official website:
- "Due to the high amount of visitors to the shrine during the Christmas season, masks will be required at all times while indoors.
- "While on our property, please be mindful of social distancing.
- "All buildings open to the public will close promptly at 9:00 p.m. If you are planning on visiting the Religious Article Store, please plan accordingly.
- "Please remember that during the Christmas Celebration (November 25 through January 2, 2021), we are open EVERY NIGHT from 5-9:00 p.m., so try coming during the week."
I live just a short twenty-minute drive from the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette. The grounds are just as lovely to explore outside of the holiday season, and I often visit year-round to get some exercise and take pictures.
The koi pond at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette is especially popular during nice weather. On sunny days, you can see people striding around the perimeter of the pond, no doubt trying to complete their recommended 10,000 daily steps in a tranquil, safe, and picturesque place.
The National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette is located at 947 Park St, Attleboro, Massachusetts 02703. Admission to the Festival of Lights is free, but donations are always welcome.