Pictures: McDonald’s Holiday Lights at the Beach is your source for free local news and information in Virginia Beach

When the lights go up on the Oceanfront, you know the holidays are in full swing. This year, more than 30,000 Virginia Beach residents are expected to hit the boardwalk for a viewing of the nautical-inspired Christmas lights.

To get the full experience, drivers can tune into a radio channel to listen to festive music as they take in the sights. Adding to the holiday cheer are Santa, his elves, and a 40-foot-tall Christmas tree.

The event, a longstanding Virginia Beach tradition, has been named as one of Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 November Events and one of the American Bus Association’s Top 100 Events in North America for 2011.

Opening night proceeds from the event went to Ronald McDonald House, which provides residential support for families with children suffering from critical illness.

McDonald’s Holiday Lights at the Beach opens each night at 5:30 p.m. and runs through Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. Vehicles will begin their drive on the Boardwalk at 2nd Street & Atlantic Avenue.