Let 23 large model lighthouses light your way through the galleries of The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk and then vote for your favorite through January 18 at the Aquarium's 14th annual holiday "Festival of Lighthouses Contest." Seeing the lighthouses is free with Aquarium admission.
This all-new display, open through Jan. 18, works like a juried art show except that thousands of Maritime Aquarium visitors are the jury. Guests follow the homemade beacons through the Aquarium and cast a vote for their favorite. The lighthouse that gets the most total votes wins $1,500. There are cash awards for five runners-up too.
This year's 23 lighthouses were built by local artists looking for a challenge, by hobbyists with a vision and by students fulfilling a school assignment. Some lighthouses are modeled after actual lighthouses; others are wildly whimsical.
Entering the annual contest seems to be an addiction for some: 17 of this year's 23 entrants are return competitors; many of them are "regulars." Three have won the contest more than once. Rules of the "Festival of Lighthouses Contest" are kept to a minimum to allow for maximum creativity. Lighthouses must be 3 to 6 feet tall and have a working light, and may not include animal remains, such as shells. Beyond that, it's up to the creators' imaginations.
Contestants this year are from both near (Norwalk, Darien, Stamford and Bridgeport) and far (Monroe, West Haven and Shelton in Connecticut, and Cortlandt Manor, Katonah, White Plains, Yonkers, New Rochelle and Hartsdale in New York).
Besides the contest's $1,500 top award, other prizes are: $750 for second place, $375 for third; $300 for fourth; $225 for fifth; and $150 for sixth. Winners will be announced at an evening reception on Jan. 21.
The 2015 "Festival of Lighthouses Contest" is free with Maritime Aquarium general admission, which is $19.95 for adults, $17.95 for youths (13-17) & seniors (65+), and $12.95 for children ages 3-12. For more details about Maritime Aquarium exhibits, IMAX® movies and programs, call (203) 852-0700 or go online to
For more event information on Fairfield County www.visitfairfieldcountyct.com