LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — It's not the local holiday season in Las Vegas until the lights go on at the Magical Forest at Opportunity Village.
"The Magical Forest was founded by a family in their backyard. Their own Magical Forest and carnival got so popular that we brought it on to our campus and it has grown to what it is today," said Taylor Judkin, donor engagement specialist at Opportunity Village
The annual event has become a family holiday tradition for those who call Las Vegas home, and 2021 marks 30 years of holiday magic.
"This is our 30th anniversary for the Magical Forest at Opportunity Village. We have a beautiful walk through the forest for you to see all of the decorations and more," Judkin said.
Last year, the trees were dark due to COVID, but the sparkling lights can't be missed again near Oakey Boulevard and Torrey Pines Road.
Visitors can travel through the forest of trees to see hundreds of decorated trees and other displays.
"When you enter, we have Christmas music playing and even a dancing light show. We also have a retail shop, and then when you head right, you enter the magical forest of trees. There are plenty of differently decorated trees along with house displays. As you move through you, get to see all of the different excitement in the forest," Judkin said.
And the forest is the star of the show, but there's more in the expanded area, including rides, food and a family favorite -- a train through the forest.
"We have rides such as the train that takes you throughout the forest, a carousel, and of course, Santa visits. We also have other rides and mini golf and carnival food and food trucks for different types of cuisine," Judkin said.
The event is also a way for the community to give back to the Opportunity Village.
"Our decorated trees are put together by different community members. It gives them an opportunity to help with our own mission at Opportunity Village and also a way we can show our community thanks for helping us throughout the year," Judkin said.
Every dollar spent at the Magical Forest goes toward programs or services for the people with disabilities the organization serves.
"The Magical Forest is one of our largest fundraiser events, and all of the money raised from the event goes directly back to help fund education and programs offered at Opportunity Village," Judkin said.
And the forest is made up of volunteers nightly, with opportunities still available.
"We typically have about 200 volunteers helping run our forest. We are always looking for volunteers. Volunteers run our entire forest, and it's really nice to see the community come out to help support our fundraiser event," Judkin said.
The attraction is open nightly until the new year, and weekdays could be your best bet to beat the crowds.
"We are open nightly starting at 5:30 p.m. and run through Jan. 2. The weekends are also are busiest. So, if you don't want a big crowd, I would come during the week. We still have a good turnout, but it isn't as much as on the weekend," Judkin said.
Even as new holiday displays come to town, take a page from us locals and make the Magical Forest part of your holiday celebrations.
"It's a great way to get you in the Christmas spirit. Everyone was closed last year, and we are back open this year. It's an outdoor event. Get out of the house, see the community, see the people and support a good cause. It puts a smile on your face, and it puts a smile on our face to see you at the Opportunity Village," Judkin said.