While a working farm and a luxury resort may seem worlds apart, both venues are striving to provide magical experiences for merrymakers of all ages. With their properties wrapped in lights, Barnsley Resort and Pettit Creek Farms are brightening the holidays for guests this season.
At Barnsley Resort, festive decorations and more than 1 million lights are illuminating the 19th century Manor House Ruins and surrounding village.
“We hope that each visitor enjoys seeing this iconic and historic landmark in a new light,” said Shelby Taylor Kolb, director of marketing for Barnsley Resort. “The ruins and gardens are usually visited during the day, but the evenings are magical with the addition of the lights.
“Guests should expect a self-guided walking tour when they visit, so each visit and experience may be a little different. The advantage is each family, couple or group can spend a little more time in the areas they like best. It is always special to see children’s faces light up when they approach the Manor House Ruins. From just this past weekend, we’ve had guests remark that it’s beautiful, and they enjoyed time with their family. It’s a great option for our local community without traveling too far, and is not a crowded type of holiday light display where you might be dealing with crowds or needing to rush through. It’s a slower pace and a different option than those.”
Situated at 597 Barnsley Gardens Road, the 3,000-acre resort centers around a 19th century estate and features numerous amenities — such as gardens, boutique spa, golf course, wingshooting and horseback riding — and 90 guest rooms and suites. Now in ruins, the Italianate villa was constructed by Godfrey Barnsley for his wife, Julia, in the mid-1800s. Restored in 1988, the manor’s remains were open to the public in 1991.
“We first started the Lighting of the Ruins in 2011,” Kolb said. “We wanted to create a festive way to signify the official start to the holiday season at our resort, and create a reason for travelers to visit in the month of December, which had been a slower time for us in the past.”
“Our team starts putting up lights as early as September. We have a variety of different lights, including traditional white lights, red and green lights in the historic boxwood parterre and icicle lights. We’ve partnered with Julie Swann, a decorator from Dalton, also since 2011. Julie and her team set up shop in early November to start installing the holiday décor for the resort. Each year, the décor changes.”
She continued, “... In The Woodlands Grill, the tree and accents complement the woodland-inspired theme with antlers, pine cones and feather accents. Adorning our new Golf School, a whimsical wreath incorporates golf clubs. In the historic Manor House Ruins, a white winter wonderland scene features a pair of reindeer pulling a sleigh topped with a snowflake-decorated tree. In the drawing room, a trio of traditional wreaths are suspended in Julia’s window and complemented by a whimsical red and green tree in a modern scheme. The dining room mantle is festooned with garland, topiaries and wreaths accented by star-shaped ornaments. Silver and gold accents this room.”
Presented through Dec. 31, the Holiday Season Garden Tours are available daily from 5 to 8 p.m. The offering costs $15 for adults; $10 for senior adults and students; and complimentary for children younger than 12 with a Toys for Tots donation and Barnsley Resort’s members and overnight guests.
The Holiday Season Garden Tours will be closed to the general public Dec. 9, 16 and 17 due to the ruins being reserved for private engagements. If further alterations to the schedule arise, updates will be posted on the venue’s website, www.barnsleyresort.com.
Like Barnsley Resort, Pettit Creek Farms also is seeking to dazzle guests with its festive lights. Located at 337 Cassville Road in Cartersville, the Christmas Light Show kicked off in the late 1990s.
Started Nov. 23, the seasonal offering will continue through Dec. 30, operating Sunday to Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m.
“[We have] a blue-gillion [lights],” said Scott Allen, owner of Pettit Creek Farms. “We’ve tried to count them for 20 years. ... [But] when you’ve got as many people as we’ve got pulling lights out of boxes, there’s just no way to count them. So, we’ve always just said a blue-gillion lights. [To install everything], it’s a standard 14-hour day [for] 45 days ... if you’re lucky. We start in October getting everything in order [and finish] Thanksgiving night.
“... It’s exhilarating [to turn on the lights],” he said adding, the light show helps him get into the spirit of Christmas. “... The twinkle in the kids’ eyes is the biggest thing [I enjoy]. ... I think I have the same twinkle in my eyes. Really, I do. I just enjoy it.”
For $15 per vehicle, people can drive through the illuminated route. Along with lights covering bushes and 60-foot trees, the show also will feature numerous animated displays, such as a fly fisherman and elves filling a stocking.
Guests also have the option to partake in a hayride, which costs $10 per person. There is no charge for infants. Both entrance fees cover visiting reindeer and the petting zoo. Santa Claus is available for visits and photographs each Thursday to Sunday.
“[This event is] a peek into a different way of life,” Allen said. “Pettit Creek Farms is a way of life. It’s not a business, it’s a way of life. People just see a little slower way of doing things. [I encourage people to] slow down and breathe [and] enjoy yourself. I tell folks, ‘If you’re in a hurry, you’re in the wrong place.’”
For more information about Pettit Creek Farm’s Christmas Light Show, call 770-386-8688 or visit www.pettitcreekfarms.com. Further details about Barnsley Resort’s Holiday Season Garden Tours can be obtained online at www.barnsleyresort.com or by calling 770-773-7480.