DUBLIN — Starting Saturday and continuing for the next few weeks, Lu Mil Vineyard will be transformed from a quaint, relaxing vineyard into a captivating Christmas wonderland with its annual Festival of Lights event.
Tucked just off the beaten path of Hwy. 87 in Dublin, the vineyard has been emerging from its status as one of Bladen County’s best-kept secrets to one of year-round destination — and the Festival of Lights is one of the main reasons.
The event will run from 6 to 10 p.m. and be held Saturday and Sunday; then Thursday through Sunday starting Dec. 5 through Dec. 8; then nightly from Dec. 12 through Dec. 23.
One of the biggest attractions is, of course, the trip throughout the vineyard, where thousands upon thousands of lights can be seen on dozens of holiday scenes along the roadway and nestled in the trees — all choreographed to music. The tour winds through the vineyard past the rentable cabins and lakes.
That trip can be taken in the comfort of your own vehicle at a cost of $5 per person, or the vineyard’s famous double-decker bus can be rented for the excursion for $5 per person with a minimum of 20 people (reservations must be placed at least 48 hours in advance).
But the lights are only one of the attractions to be found at Lu Mil.
Visitors can also enjoy a country-style buffet, which will be served from 5 to 9 p.m. and held in the General Store. The buffet always includes two or three meats, vegetables, salad, bread, coffee and tea, as well as dessert. No reservations are necessary, and the buffet is expected to cost $10 per person.
After dinner, the children may want to go visit Santa and Mrs. Claus, who will be greeting and having photos made with folks in the Candy Shop — where you will be able to find some of those old-timey candies like Mary Janes, Goetz Cow Tails, Wax Bottles, Boston baked Beans and much more.
Adults may enjoy the fire pits just outside the General Store, where they can relax in rocking chairs.
Over in the vineyard’s main building, visitors can find numerous gift ideas — including jams, jellies, juices, ciders and pickles — as well as several wines and slushies to taste. Out on the deck, local musician Jimmy Gatlin will be performing on the keyboard.
If some of that isn’t enough to bring the camera out for, perhaps a visit from “Tow Mater” from Dublin Motor Speedway will entice a photo to be snapped.
And finally, a giant gingerbread house awaits visitors to the Festival of Lights tour, where the giant gingerbread family will welcome visitors at the start of the driving tour.
To reach Lu Mil Vineyard, located at 438 Suggs-Taylor Road (technically in Elizabethtown for GPS purposes), take Hwy. 87 and turn at the Dollar Genereal in Dublin. Follow about a mile and turn right onto Suggs-Taylor Road. The vineyard is about one-half mile up on the right.
For information, call 910-866-5819 or go online to www.lumilvineyard.com.