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Shimmering lights plentiful this holiday season

By: By Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2009-12-17

Colorful lights are twinkling and casting their glow off the night skies of Okinawa, a sign that Christmas is just around the corner. Holiday lights are traditional, and here, the illuminations are fantastic.

The 11th annual Itoman City Peaceful Illumination gets under way tomorrow at Peace Memorial Park. Created by Okinawa Prefecture University of Arts students, this year’s illumination fills the Peace Mamorial Park with fantastic beams of right. Peace Memorial Park, the site of the last fighting during the Battle of Okinawa at Mabuni in 1945, forms the backdrop for the illumination. Entry fee is ¥200 for adults and youth 15 and older. An estimated 130,000 will make the trek south to take in the splendor of more than 1,200,000 light bulbs in the display. There will be fireworks on Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and a countdown heralds in the new year.

Southeast Botanical Gardens Christmas Illumination and Night Market 2009 offers its Christmas illumination amidst natural greenery, flowers and tropical trees. A spectacular light show takes visitors to fairyland. Admission for adults and children 12 and older is ¥1,500 at the park. Children 11 and under are free. The program runs daily 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., with last admission at 9 p.m.

Christmas Fantasy 2009 opens soon at Okinawa Zoo Park, complete with tons of snow. The year’s first snow will be December 23rd, the opening day of the 14th annual Okinawa Zoo Park Christmas Fantasy. The six-day holiday special event will feature a taste of real winter, as fantasy creators open a couple of kamakura snow cottages, a Japanese style igloo, to give everyone a chance to experience the cool feel of snow.

Okinawa’s best known laser show is a part of the Christmas Fantasy, a skillful blend of lasers, fireworks, snow and soap bubbles. Okinawa Zoo Park will have three shows daily, at 6:20 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9:40 p.m.

It snows at Christmas Fantasy daily, offering a White Christmas complete with opportunities to build snowmen and have snowball fights. The snow forecast calls for the powdery white stuff to flake down daily at 4:20 p.m., 5:40 p.m., 7:30 p.m., and 9 p.m. As visitors enjoy the snow, they can also take in the daily Christmas Concert at 8:30 p.m.

Christmas Fantasy will run December 23rd ~ 28th from 4 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. Adult and high school student tickets are ¥1,700 in advance, or ¥2,000 at the gate. Children’s tickets for youngsters 4 through junior high school are ¥1,000 in advance or ¥1,200 at the gate. Tickets are available at MCCS Tours and Kadena ITT. Parking is available at Okinawa Zoo Park, Okinawa City Office and Koza Sports Park.

It’s a fun time to drive around the island, taking in the businesses who’ve lit up their properties for the holiday season. Many of the island’s resort hotels are getting into the holiday illuminations and spirit, as well, including Kanucha Bay Hotel and Villas’ holiday illumination. This year’s Kanucha Resort Stardust Fantasia is more than elegant, a stunning blend of one million lights glowing in the night, as well as a 12 meters high Christmas tree at the poolside. Surrounding the tree, reindeer and stars dance together. Inside, the hotel’s restaurant offers a special Christmas dinner.

Stardust Fantasia runs through March 14th. Admission is ¥1,000 per group/car. Guests at the hotel view the illumination free. Kanucha Bay is located in northern Okinawa, across the bay from Camp Schwab.

Even the Okinawa Outlet Mall Ashibinaa in Tomigusuku City is into the holiday spirit, featuring the white snow glitter in the lights and daily snowfalls on the hour from 5 to 8:30 p.m. through January 24th. Winter Elegance 2009-2010 is worth the drive south of Naha City, and best of all, it’s free.

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