Park Life Blog

Behind the Scenes at Starry Nights

Starry Nights, presented by International Paper, is a family-friendly holiday experience with drive-through and walking trails of light displays, plus magical FedEx Mistletoe Village!  Starry Nights is the largest annual fundraiser for Shelby Farms Park, and it's a holiday tradition for thousands of families. 

Thousands of lights twinkle and shine throughout the Park and the First Tennessee Foundation Visitor Center is transformed into magical FedEx Mistletoe Village which is a hub for holiday fun!


But, this long-standing holiday tradition doesn’t happen overnight. There’s a lot more to it than just flipping on the lights--planning for the 38 day event begins when the Memphis heat is still lingering!


The entire Park Operations (Ops) team begins work in early October by prepping power connections and preparing wiring. The actual set up of displays begins on November 1, as soon as the Park’s Halloween festivities are over.

The Ops team spends cold days setting up displays and installing lights, followed by cold nights checking and adjusting the displays.


Breaks from setting up on cold days are always welcome!
Special thanks to our new friends at Marco’s Pizza who provided hot pizza during the cold days of Starry Nights set up!

Even after the show is open for Visitors, the Ops team continues to work on the event daily during the run of the show maintaining and repairing the lights.

Once all the displays are up and ready to go and Starry Nights is officially open, more than 1,000 volunteers help keep this event shining brightly.  Every night, the Starry Nights volunteers arrive several hours before the show opens and stay several hours after the last visitor leaves the Park.  These volunteers brave the cold temperatures and help with multiple tasks - whether it’s directing traffic and interacting with Visitors or prepping ponies and camels for the nightly rides and helping Santa Claus our volunteers keep this event merry and bright.  They even help us on Thanksgiving night, Christmas Eve and Christmas night!

So, this year when you experience the magic of the holidays at Starry Nights, remember the magic that has happened behind the scenes!

Happy Holidays from all of us at Shelby Farms Park!

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