Photos: Sneak peek inside Christmas Town

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The holiday spirit is about to fill Busch Gardens as Christmas Town takes over the park with over eight million twinkling lights and more than a month of Christmas-themed programming. (Steve Roberts, Jr./Southside Daily)

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Christmas Town doesn't technically take over Busch Gardens until Friday, but we got a sneak peek inside the park to see what is new this year.

Along with eight million twinkling lights and more than a month of Christmas-themed programming, Christmas Town features many new additions this year, such as a Sesame Street-themed “Forest of Fun,” where fans can meet their favorite Sesame Street characters.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and his friends Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and Bumble will also join Christmas Town this winter. The park will also boast an expanded ride lineup this season. Busch Gardens will run two of its major roller coasters, Verbolten and Tempesto, during the Christmas season for the first time. Guests will also have access to 20 other rides throughout the park.

“We have made Christmas Town bigger than ever, with more attractions and more time to enjoy them,” Busch Gardens President David Cromwell said in a release. “Christmas Town has grown in popularity each year, and we’re gratified that so many families have made this a must-do holiday tradition.”

Christmas town will be open on select days through Monday, Jan. 2. After last year’s high attendance numbers, Busch Gardens has added an extra day of operation and extended the hours from 2 to 10 p.m. every day.

Guests can purchase a Christmas Town Fun Card for $38, which offers unlimited visits during the event. Active Busch Gardens and Water Country USA 1-Park and 2-Park Platinum pass members can purchase single-day tickets to Christmas Town for themselves and guests for $24.

For more information, including a complete operating schedule, visit www.christmastown.com/va.

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Photos: Sneak peek inside Christmas Town