THERE'S no doubt 2020 has been a tough year for all Australians and it's been no different in the Hunter.
So we could all use a bit of good news to brighten our day, yes? Well, three million lights should help do the trick.
In a welcome boost to Hunter families, the Southern Hemisphere's largest lights display, the Christmas Lights Spectacular, has been granted clearance by the NSW government to open its gates to up to 5000 guests, up from 500 per day.
Hunter Valley Gardens general manager Srinivas Gopal said "a range of newly created immersive displays that will dazzle guests with lights they've never seen before".
He said there were strict COVID-safe measures in place to ensure the safety of visitors.
"After a tough year for many Australians, we are so happy to provide a wonderful escape for families and loved ones," Mr Gopal said.
"We are so pleased that the restrictions have been lifted and so that many more people will be able to enjoy this special time with us.
"Naturally, our rides, attractions and lights are back with some amendments and carefully thought out COVID-safe measures in place to ensure everyone can attend safely and finish off the year with cherished memories.
"It has been an equally tough year for us in the tourism and hospitality sector, so we're delighted that this gives us leeway to make up for some of the lost time over the year."
Mr Gopal said as well as old favourites, such as the walk-through bauble and light tunnel, there would be more than 20 new displays this year.
Families can capture a moment next to the eight-metre tall mega Christmas tree and even take their little elves to visit Santa's enchanting workshop. And for the romantics amongst us, lover's corner will return as well.
The Christmas Lights Spectacular runs nightly until January 26 (excluding Christmas Day) from 6pm-10.30pm.
- For more details, tickets and the program, visit: www.hvg.com.au
- As per government COVID guidelines, guests will be required to pre-purchase tickets and commit to specific dates at the Christmas Lights Spectacular and sign in via QR code upon entry.