Interesting

Gardens Aglow at the Holidays

Gardens Aglow at the Holidays


To celebrate the season, botanic gardens and conservatories decorate their collections with lights, ribbons, and sculptures. From Washington's glowing grapes to Nevada's illuminated cacti, gardens feature their emblematic plants as well as the always-lovely poinsettia.

Photo by: VanDusen Botanical Garden, Vancouver, B.C.

Bellevue Botanical Garden
Bellevue, WA

Photo by: Richard Duval

Inspired by plants found in Northwest gardens and gardens around the world, Bellevue Botanical Garden's annual Garden d’Lights festival features over half a million light sculptures built by volunteers. “Not often you can find grapes on the vine at Christmas,” said the photographer in the Washington Wine Report.

VanDusen Botanical Garden Vancouver, B.C

Photo by: Ian Lindsay

At VanDusen Garden's holiday Festival of Lights, millions of colourful lights are strewn around flower beds and trees. Arbor walkways are transformed into the Gingerbread Walk and Candy Cane Lane.

Atlanta Botanical Garden Atlanta, Georgia

Photo by: James Camp

Atlanta Botanical Garden's 'Garden Lights, Holiday Nights' features the Van Gogh-inspired "Starry Night Walk", a light show of swirling stars twinkling in the camellias, and "Orchestral Orbs," a topiary light show choreographed to holiday music.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden Belmont, North Carolina

Photo by: Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden's holiday displays include Christmas trees, s'mores by the fire, a visit from Santa Claus, and the traditional favorite Orchid Tree.

Phipps Conservatory Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Photo by: Phipps Conservatory

Almost 2,000 poinsettias and evergreens with tens of thousands of lights are displayed for Phipps Conservatory's Winter Flower Show. A Winter Light Garden glows outdoors.

Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Gardens Las Vegas, Nevada

Photo by: Christopher DeVargas

A botanical garden and chocolatier in Las Vegas bestows the cacti with holiday lights, and the revelers with chocolate.

Longwood Gardens Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

Photo by: L. Albee

Longwood Gardens features 400,000 lights, fountain shows with colored lights, nearly 40 miles of glowing wire strung through the trees, and a sprinkling of large sparkling snowflakes and icicles.


Gardens Aglow becomes drive-thru attraction amid pandemic

The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens turned its annual Gardens Aglow light display into a drive-thru event to keep visitors at a safe physical distance from one another.

The sixth annual Gardens Aglow display at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens will be a drive-thru event this year. Visitors must remain in their cars while touring the display to keep people socially distanced. Photo courtesy of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

BOOTHBAY — Visitors to the sixth annual Gardens event at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens will have a warmer way to view the dazzling holiday display this year. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the gardens shifted to become a drive-thru attraction.

Rather than strolling through the gardens, visitors must remain in their cars and drive through the light display in order to keep people at a safe distance from one another. The route is about a mile long and takes roughly 30 minutes to complete.

Kris Folsom, director of marketing for the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, said the nonprofit felt it was important to find a way to make Gardens Aglow happen amid the pandemic, if only to lift spirits and instill a sense of normalcy.

“For the past six years, people have told us that Gardens Aglow has become one of their family traditions,” said Folsom. “That’s important – especially this year. We are missing so many opportunities for celebration this year.”

Gardens Aglow, which runs from Nov. 21 to Jan. 2, brings in about half the organization’s annual visitors and “is a huge contributor to our annual budget,” said Folsom. In 2018, 113,000 people visited Gardens Aglow. That count dipped to 100,000 last year after the botanical gardens reduced the nightly capacity in response to feedback that the gardens were too crowded.

Although Gardens Aglow is popular with locals and tourists alike, Folsom said she knows it will be less profitable for the Boothbay-based nonprofit this year.

“We set the price per car rather than per person, and that’s significantly less than admission would be in a typical year,” said Folsom. Tickets are $40 per car for non-members and $30 for members, regardless of how many people are in the vehicle.

The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens will charge visitors admission per car rather than per person this year. As a result, the nonprofit predicts the popular attraction will bring in less revenue than a typical year. Photo courtesy of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Cars are admitted through the display in 15-minute increments and only so many people can go through the gardens at a time, further staunching the amount of revenue the gardens can generate.

Folsom said the nonprofit hopes making Gardens Aglow a drive-thru attraction will make it more accessible to people who weren’t able to visit in the past due to mobility issues.

“People who may have been uncertain about walking at night, or concerned about the wintery weather, can now visit Gardens Aglow from the comfort and warmth of their vehicles,” said Folsom.

Betty Maddocks, owner of Janson’s Clothing Store in Boothbay Harbor, said she’s thankful the botanical gardens found a way to put on Gardens Aglow despite the COVID-19 pandemic because it generates business for local small businesses.

“The towns that are on the way coming to the gardens get residual business from Gardens Aglow,” said Maddocks. “In 2018, they had a huge turnout for Gardens Aglow and we saw that in town too. It’s a trickle-down effect for the area.”

While no one knows how many people will visit Gardens Aglow, Maddocks said she’s not worried because “we’ll have something, and that’s what matters.”


The 15 best Christmas light displays in the U.S.

Holiday lights — whether they be Yule logs or candles on Christmas trees — have been around for centuries, but it wasn’t until 1882 that electric lights made it on the scene.

Plus, it took several more decades before they were widely (and cheaply) available. Today, homes and businesses regularly deck their halls, trees and exteriors with lights, some creating enormous spectacles that draw crowds year after year.

To help you decide which to prioritize, U.S. News rounded up the top Christmas light displays across America. Whether you prefer small displays that pack a festive punch or flashy shows full of glitz and glamour, the colorful spectacles on our list are sure to bring you plenty of holiday cheer.

(Note: Some of the events may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. New policies may be in place, including capacity restrictions and ticket reservation requirements. Check with the official event organizer, the CDC, the U.S. Department of State and local tourism boards before traveling.)

The Best Christmas Light Displays:

— Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights

— Nights of a Thousand Candles

— Blossoms of Light and Trail of Lights

— Magic Christmas in Lights

— Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

— Garden Lights, Holiday Nights

Fantasy In Lights at Callaway Resort & Gardens: Pine Mountain, Georgia

Holiday Trail of Lights: Louisiana

Holiday lights are such a big deal in Louisiana that the state couldn’t display them all in one location. Along the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights, you’ll have the chance to see five different light collections in various cities and towns, including Alexandria and Pineville Minden Monroe and West Monroe Natchitoches and Shreveport and Bossier City. Each destination features its own special offerings. For example, Natchitoches is known for its lights that adorn the downtown area and for hosting a plethora of events, including its annual Christmas Festival, a lighted boat parade and fireworks shows. Meanwhile, Minden is a nutcracker lover’s paradise. Visitors praise all of the different decorations, particularly those in Natchitoches. Most displays are free to visit, though extra charges may apply for attending events or buying treats. Keep in mind that you’ll need to purchase a $10 armband if you want to see Natchitoches’ lights on a Saturday. The displays at Natchitoches, and Alexandria and Pineville can be reached via Interstate 49, while those within Shreveport and Bossier City, Minden, and Monroe and West Monroe are easy to get to from Interstate 20. Displays usually go up in mid-November and are taken down shortly after New Year’s Day. Visit the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights website for a full list of events in each city and more information.

Nights of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens: Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

Brookgreen Gardens‘ name for its wintertime event does not do it justice: The Nights of a Thousand Candles display actually includes 2,800-plus real candles in addition to strung electric lights. The 2020 event also includes Bruce Munro’s “Field of Light” mixed media light installation. Make a full evening at the gardens by enjoying dinner at one of several on-site dining venues before grabbing a hot drink at a beverage station to keep you warm as you stroll. There is also live music every night. Multiple visitors applaud Brookgreen Gardens’ display and particularly enjoyed seeing the oak trees aglow with cascading lights. The installation is open 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday from Nov. 27 to Dec. 31. Tickets must be purchased in advance and cost $25 for adults and $15 for children ages 4 to 12 kids 3 and younger can attend for free. If you wish to have dinner on-site, check in advance to see if a reservation is required. The gardens sit less than 15 miles southwest of Myrtle Beach in Murrells Inlet. For additional information, head to the Brookgreen Gardens website.

Glendale Glitters: Glendale, Arizona

Spanning 16 blocks, Glendale Glitters is a can’t-miss holiday tradition in the Phoenix area. Nearly 2 million twinkling lights adorn downtown Glendale’s streets and trees. In fact, the event is so impressive that it holds the distinction of being Arizona’s largest free Christmas light display. Visitors say that Glendale Glitters is a great event, particularly for families. The lights shine from 5 to 10 p.m. nightly between Nov. 25 and Jan. 9. There’s no fee required to enjoy the lights, but you may want to bring some cash if you plan on shopping at one of downtown’s boutiques or grabbing a bite to eat at a local restaurant. Find out more about Glendale Glitters by checking out the Visit Glendale website.

Nights of Lights: St. Augustine, Florida

Travelers hoping to get into the holiday spirit and avoid winter’s chill should head south to St. Augustine for its annual Nights of Lights celebration. Around 3 million lights illuminate the town’s Historic District, including must-visit sights like the Lightner Museum and St. George Street. If you’d rather explore with a guide, you can sign up for a tour of the lights with a local company like Old Town Trolley Tours or The Tasting Tours. Once you’ve seen the lights, admire the Villa Zorayda Museum’s holiday decor or partake in the Nights of Pints event, which lets participants sample beers from local breweries. Previous visitors said this is a terrific time to visit St. Augustine because the lights are spectacular. Perusing Nights of Lights is free for all, though tours, Nights of Pints and any goodies you wish to purchase from downtown vendors will cost you. The lights are viewable every night from Nov. 14 through Jan. 31. Head to the Florida’s Historic Coast website for more details.

Blossoms of Light and Trail of Lights at Denver Botanic Gardens: Denver

Denver Botanic Gardens hosts two separate holiday events: Blossoms of Light at its York Street location (near downtown Denver) and Trail of Lights at its Chatfield Farms outpost in Littleton (which sits about 20 miles south of the city). At Blossoms of Light, visitors walk through the gardens to see trees and brush aglow in a rainbow of colors. Meanwhile, Trail of Lights offers two paths of slightly different lengths that take patrons to a children’s play area and through two illuminated tunnels. Paths at both locations are accessible, but the venue notes that the walkways may be icy and visitors should exercise caution if using a wheelchair or stroller. Previous viewers loved the displays, especially Blossoms of Light, which they described as a stunning spot for date night. But remember, a separate ticket is required for each event. Entry for Blossoms of Light is $21 per adult, while Trail of Lights tickets cost $13.50 per adult. Children, students and seniors receive reduced or waived admissions, depending on their age and the event chosen. Each timed ticket must be reserved online in advance. Both displays open in late November and end in early or mid-January. Blossoms of Light is open between 4:30 and 8:30 p.m., while Trail of Lights welcomes visitors from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Snacks and refreshments are sold on-site as well. Visit the Denver Botanic Gardens website for more information.

Magic Christmas in Lights at Bellingrath Gardens and Home: Theodore, Alabama

Bellingrath Gardens and Home sits along the banks of the Fowl River in Theodore, about 20 miles southwest of Mobile. The venue’s annual Magic Christmas in Lights display spans 65 acres and features 15 different scenes illuminated with 3 million lights. After visitors walk the outdoor grounds, they can see the Bellingrath Home outfitted in its finest holiday decor as they take a guided tour to learn more about the property and its former owners, Walter and Bessie Bellingrath. Reviewers say the displays are stunning and highly recommend taking a tour of the Bellingrath Home, led by interesting and friendly guides. Magic Christmas in Lights glows nightly from Nov. 27 through Jan. 3 (though it’s closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1). Because all tickets are for set times between 5 and 9 p.m., the facility recommends buying online in advance. Each combined Gardens and Home ticket costs $25 per adult and $14 per child age 5 to 12. A cheaper option that only includes access to the gardens is available as well. To purchase tickets, go to the Bellingrath Gardens and Home website.

Gardens Aglow at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens: Boothbay, Maine

Previous travelers said Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is thrilling at any time of year, but they saved their biggest praise for the facility’s annual Gardens Aglow event. More than 500,000 lights adorn the gardens in shapes ranging from Christmas trees to round baubles. And this year, staying warm in the chilly Maine air won’t be an issue: The event is drive-thru only. Tickets cost $40 per vehicle and must be purchased online in advance. Lights are on display between 4:30 and 8:30 p.m. every night from Nov. 21 through Jan. 2 (excluding Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve). The property is located in Boothbay, a small town situated less than 58 miles northeast of Portland. Learn more about Gardens Aglow by visiting the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens website.

ZooLights at Oregon Zoo: Portland, Oregon

As you might expect, Oregon Zoo‘s ZooLights presentation depicts all kinds of critters who call the property home. Throughout the event, you’ll see lit figurines that resemble everything from wolves to beavers to snakes. Past visitors said the lights are incredible and that the event is a great family outing in Portland. For 2020, ZooLights is a drive-thru event that lasts approximately 30 minutes. Timed tickets, which are released to the public a week at a time, must be purchased online before you visit. Tickets cost $50 to $65 per vehicle, depending on the date selected. Visitors can drive through the ZooLights display each evening from Nov. 22 through Jan. 10 (except Dec. 25) between 5 and 9 p.m. Though refreshments are not sold on-site, you can elect to purchase goodies in advance to enjoy during your visit you’ll get your snacks when you check in. Learn more about the event by visiting the Oregon Zoo website.

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights: Brooklyn, New York City

Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights neighborhood is a favorite holiday attraction for New Yorkers and visitors alike. Residents wrap their windows in fairy lights, twine colorful bulbs around the trees and erect wireframe displays atop their roofs. And, of course, you’ll see plenty of Santa Claus, nutcracker, snowman and elf figurines. Previous visitors praised the area’s light displays, saying the homes are beautiful and it’s a must-do activity in New York City come Christmastime. Some suggest arriving just after New Year’s to explore with fewer people around. The neighborhood is situated in the southwest corner of Brooklyn the best displays are typically found between 11th and 13th avenues, from 83rd to 86th Street. Lights go up after Thanksgiving and generally stay lit from 5 to 9 p.m. (though some residents may keep their lights on later) through New Year’s Eve. The area is free to explore, though tour operators like Dyker Heights Christmas Lights and A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours offer guided trips through Dyker Heights at specific times for a fee. Tickets for tours range from $30 to $65 per person.

Austin Trail of Lights: Austin, Texas

Hosted in Austin‘s Zilker Metropolitan Park, the Austin Trail of Lights is a drive-thru holiday extravaganza. The trail glistens with more than 2 million bulbs. As visitors weave their way around the park, they’ll pass through tunnels and catch glimpses of holiday must-sees like Santa’s home and workshop. There are 70 displays in all, not to mention 90 trees wrapped in twinkling lights. It will take approximately 20 minutes to complete the course. Reviewers say the lights and displays are incredible but warn of heavy crowds and long wait times. The Austin Trail of Lights runs from Nov. 28 through Jan. 3, but keep in mind that it is closed on select dates like Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. Tickets are valid for a set time (the first entry is at 5:45 p.m., while the final entry is at 9 or 9:45 p.m.), and prices vary depending on which time is selected. Prices start at $25 per vehicle. There are no on-site vendors selling snacks and drinks however, visitors are welcome to bring their own treats to enjoy. Visit the Austin Trail of Lights website for more information and to purchase tickets.

Glittering Lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway: Las Vegas

The Strip isn’t the only place to see lights in Las Vegas come November. Every year, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway (about 15 miles northeast of The Strip) decks out its facility with more than 5 million lights that illuminate 500-plus displays across a 2 ½-mile course. Although the drive-thru event is located at a track known for hosting auto racing events, Glittering Lights encourages you to drive slowly so you can enjoy as much of the spectacle as possible and snap plenty of photos. Previous travelers raved about the event’s displays and were impressed with the sheer number of lights featured. Visitors can catch Glittering Lights nightly from Nov. 13 through Jan. 10 between 5 or 5:30 p.m. and 9, 10 or 11 p.m., depending on the day. Ticket options and prices vary, but attendees can expect to pay $25 to $55 per car. Purchase tickets and learn more about the event by visiting the Glittering Lights website.

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at Atlanta Botanical Garden: Atlanta

You’ll find double the joy at the Atlanta Botanical Garden‘s holiday spectacle. While Garden Lights, Holiday Nights showcases traditional holiday cheer (think: lights strung up to form Christmas trees and strands dangling from tree branches like icicles) every year, the 2020 event features magical light displays throughout the garden’s popular “Alice’s Wonderland Reimagined” exhibit. As you walk through the garden, you’ll see the Queen of Hearts’ guards, the White Rabbit and other characters from “Alice in Wonderland” glowing against the evening sky. Previous travelers said the entire presentation is lovely and a truly immersive experience. You can view the exhibits nightly from Nov. 14 through Jan. 16 from 5 to 11 p.m. Tickets start at $24.95 for adults and $21.95 for children between 3 and 12 kids 2 and younger get in for free. Keep in mind, prices are higher around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden website to plan your visit and purchase tickets.

Pigeon Forge Winterfest: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

More than 5 million holiday lights bedazzle Pigeon Forge — and for a much longer stretch of time than similar displays in other destinations across America. Pigeon Forge Winterfest showcases illuminated features throughout the town, including on many of its top attractions, which remain lit from mid-November to mid-February. Dollywood, in particular, earns rave reviews from its guests for its massive Christmas lights exhibition and family-friendly holiday shows. If you’d rather stay in your warm car while checking out the area’s twinkling lights, drive along the Pigeon Forge Parkway for a festive spectacle or about 15 miles north to Smokies Stadium to explore Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland. Be sure to leave room in your schedule for one or two Pigeon Forge Winterfest events — parades, train rides and shopping experiences are just a few options — in Pigeon Forge or nearby Gatlinburg. While there are no specific tickets and set hours for Pigeon Forge Winterfest, individual events and experiences have fees and their own timetables. Visit the Pigeon Forge Winterfest website for full details.

Winter Garden aGlow at Idaho Botanical Garden: Boise, Idaho

Previous visitors said Winter Garden aGlow is one of the best Christmas light displays available in the Boise area, if not the best they’ve ever seen anywhere. The Idaho Botanical Garden‘s annual holiday event takes up the entire complex the one-way path winds visitors through the Willow Tunnel, a meditation garden and even past Santa’s cottage. The garden also sells snacks and warm drinks on-site to keep you extra cozy during your walk. The display is viewable Wednesday through Sunday from 6 to 9:30 p.m. between Nov. 26 and Dec. 27. You must purchase your timed tickets in advance, which cost $15 per person (kids 3 and younger enter for free). Find out more, including how to buy tickets, by checking out the Idaho Botanical Garden website.

Looking for more holiday travel ideas and information? See:


How Gardens Aglow became Maine’s must-see holiday attraction

The pond in the children's garden at Gardens Aglow at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay
Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

A couple takes in the lights at Gardens Aglow at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Adelaide Munsey of Brunswick, 3, stops to look at the lights at Gardens Aglow at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.
Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akke

Staff Photo by Ariana van den Akker

The folks at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens know something about the power of color.

Since opening in 2007, the Boothbay site has drawn people from all over Maine and the country because of colorful blooms from roses and rhododendrons to hosta and hydrangea, not to mention acres of lush green forest. So it makes sense that a few years ago the garden’s managers decided to add some color in the dead of winter, a time of year when strolling through gardens is not exactly top of mind.

The result was Gardens Aglow, a November and December extravaganza of lights at the botanical gardens. Now in its third year, the spectacle has grown to include some 500,000 LED lights on 43 miles of cord, lighting up the major areas of the garden, including the children’s garden, the woodland garden and the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses.

It’s fast becoming one of southern Maine’s best-known holiday attractions. Last year, Gardens Aglow drew more than 75,000 people in just about a month, while the botanical gardens drew 113,000 people May through October.

Gardens Aglow opened for the season Nov. 16 and will be open Thursdays through Sundays from 4 to 9 p.m. until Dec. 31.

Because of the success of Gardens Aglow, the Boothbay Harbor Region of Commerce organizes a seasonal event called Boothbay Festival Of Lights, in its second season. People can park at a free lot in downtown Boothbay Harbor and take a free shuttle to Gardens Aglow a mile up Route 27 in Boothbay, past businesses and homes lit up for the event. Shops, restaurants and inns in Boothbay Harbor are also decorated and open for people either on their way to or from Gardens Aglow. For a list of other Boothbay Festival of Lights events, including the Harbor Lights Festival on Saturday, go to boothbaylights.com.

People can also park at the botanical garden’s lot and visit downtown Boothbay Harbor on their own.

“It’s tough when you’re in a seasonal area with only seasonal jobs, and we had talked about ways we could have more of an impact on the area in our off-season,” said Kris Folsom, marketing and communications director for Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. “We thought this would be valuable, bringing a lot of people in at a time when there aren’t usually a lot of visitors.”

On a recent Friday night, the appeal of Gardens Aglow was evident as hundreds of people walked around open-mouthed in blustery weather, with temperatures in the low 30s. The appeal, in a word, is lights. There are more lights than most of us have ever seen at one time, in more color combinations than one would normally associate with Christmas. There were pink and yellow lights, for instance, on a line of tall thin trees that were blowing in the wind, as if waving at visitors. There were two shades of orange lights on evergreens, creating the illusion of towering, flickering flames in the forest. The music wafting from speakers hidden in the gardens is varied too, ranging from pieces that sounded classical to some a bit more jazzy.

“The first time I saw it I was in such awe, I called everyone I knew and said they had to see it. Now I go three or four times a season,” said Bettina Heath of Augusta, who was visiting the gardens on Nov. 17. “Seeing all the lights and hearing the music playing, it’s just magical.”

Heath brought her boyfriend, Robby Coffin of Hallowell, who had never seen the lit up gardens before. Coffin said he was “stunned” by the size and scope of the lights, including ones that moved up and down trees like snow or rain and whole strings of lights that criss-crossed ponds, creating giant reflecting pools. He says he’d “definitely go back” but would dress warmer in order to stay out longer.

“Other than in Times Square (in New York City), I don’t know where you can see more lights,” Coffin said.

A visit to Gardens Aglow starts in the visitor’s center, where people are handed a map outlining where the lights are and, importantly, where the Winter Fun Warming Station is. The latter is a place where you can sit down, get warm, have a snack and watch model trains.

Unlike some holiday attractions, there are no long lines in the garden and there’s no tight schedule to follow. Once you’re in, you just wander at your own pace. You don’t have to be anyplace at a certain time to see Santa or feed reindeer.

In order to stagger the crowds at Gardens Aglow, tickets have a timed admission each evening, either 4 p.m., 6 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. But the lights really are best seen in the dark, so if you get there at 4 p.m., before sunset, you might want to start with a snack inside until darkness falls.

Last year, Gardens Aglow had about 360,000 lights, so some 140,000 have been added for this season.

The gardens’ horticulture staff – 10 people, plus some helpers – started putting up the lights in September, using a couple boom lifts to get up into the tallest trees, some 60-feet high. The gardens’ lighting pattern was designed by horticulturist Anna Leavitt, who said finding colors that work is sort of trial and error.

“Those big trees near the visitor’s center have pink and yellow lights, which doesn’t sound nice, but it works,” said Leavitt. “It’s just experimenting a lot, figuring out what works.”

And when you’ve got half-million lights to work with, you can do a lot of colorful experiments.

GARDENS AGLOW

WHEN: 4 to 9 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, through Dec. 31 closed Christmas Eve
WHERE: Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, 132 Botanical Gardens Drive, Boothbay
HOW MUCH: $12 adults, $6 ages 3-17, $30 family rate (two adults and two children)
INFO: mainegardens.org
WHAT ELSE: For more lights, park in Boothbay Harbor at a municipal lot and take a free shuttle from the fire station to Gardens Aglow. Along they way, you’ll see many local businesses and homes decorated for the Boothbay Festival of Lights, a season-long event created to coincide with Gardens Aglow. The lights are on each night, but on Saturday there will also be a day-long event called Harbor Lights Festival, including Santa’s arrival by boat, a festival of trees, a craft show and more. For more information on the Harbor Lights Festival and on shuttle buses from Boothbay Harbor to Gardens Aglow, go to boothbaylights.com.

Check out our Kid Review of the Gardens


Gardens Aglow at the Holidays

Winter Garden aGlow ( Sold Out )

Sold Out! Sold Out! Sold Out!
Thank you for a wonderful year!

Join us this holiday season as the Garden is transformed into a twinkling wonderland.
Peek into the Garden Cottage and send the big guy a postcard! Enjoy snacks and warm drinks from local vendors while you check out the holiday express model train display, wander through the coolest tunnel of lights in Boise, and see what wondrous creation Illumicone has in store for you this year.
Winter Garden aGlow is open Wednesday – Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Nov 26 through Dec 27. To promote safety and social-distancing, this event will use timed ticketing. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

Nov 26-Dec 27
Wed-Sun. 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Limited one-hour timed ticketing blocks available every thirty minutes.

Ticketing
Space is limited! To ensure room for social-distancing, tickets will be limited. So, get yours early!

!! Limited one-hour timed ticketing blocks available every thirty minutes.

6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
8:00 pm – 9:00 pm
8:30 pm – 9:30 pm

!! Tickets will not be sold at the gate. They must be purchased in advance.
!! Tickets are non-refundable. Dates and times are non-transferable.

Admission Prices
You can reach us at (208) 343-8649. Mon-Fri. 9 am – 5 pm.

❄️ Member Price: $12
❄️ Non-Member Price (4+): $15
❄️ Kids 3 and under: Free

!! Tickets must be purchased in advance.
!! Tickets will not be sold at the gate.

Bring Your Mask
For your protection and the protection of other guests and staff, masks are required while you are in the Garden.

❄️️ We are so excited about the event this year. Please help us keep it a safe space so everyone can enjoy their experience.
❄️ Leave 6 ft of space between guests outside your party.

Walk This Way!
For your safety, we have a one-way path leading you through the winter wonderland while keeping everyone socially-distant. This means some areas of the Garden are closed but there are more lights surrounding the open areas of the Garden.

❄️ Follow the signs closely. Signs are cool.
❄️ Enjoy displays from a distance. No touching☝️!
❄️ No backtracking. One way.

Write your letter to Santa!
Kiddos will get a letter template in your goodie bag, but you can download it now and write your letter to Santa before your visit too! Don’t forget to bring it!

Dress for Success
Buy those hand warmers in bulk. This event is outside, so be sure to dress for the weather.

❄️ Our event happens in snow or stars, rain or shine, and will only be canceled due to extreme weather.

Food & Drink
We’ll have plenty of local vendors on-site to help keep your stomachs full and your hands warm.

❄️ Roasted Nuts
❄️ Kettle Corn
❄️ Coffee & Cocoa

!! Vendors may vary from night to night.
!! Vendors take cash or card.

Volunteers Needed
Looking for a fun, safe place to volunteer this winter? Help IBG create the magic! Join our festive Winter Garden aGlow volunteer team and make someone’s holiday a little brighter.


Saturday, November 28th 2020 • 6:00pm - 9:30pm

Sold Out! Sold Out! Sold Out!
Thank you for a wonderful year!

Join us this holiday season as the Garden is transformed into a twinkling wonderland.
Peek into the Garden Cottage and send the big guy a postcard! Enjoy snacks and warm drinks from local vendors while you check out the holiday express model train display, wander through the coolest tunnel of lights in Boise, and see what wondrous creation Illumicone has in store for you this year.
Winter Garden aGlow is open Wednesday – Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Nov 26 through Dec 27. To promote safety and social-distancing, this event will use timed ticketing. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

Nov 26-Dec 27
Wed-Sun. 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Limited one-hour timed ticketing blocks available every thirty minutes.

Ticketing
Space is limited! To ensure room for social-distancing, tickets will be limited. So, get yours early!

❄️ Corporate Packages Available – Oct 12 – Oct 25
❄️ Members-Only Presale – October 26 – Nov 1. Tickets go on sale at 10 am
❄️ Tickets available to the public – November 2nd at 10 am
❄️ Limited one-hour timed ticketing blocks available every thirty minutes.

6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
8:00 pm – 9:00 pm
8:30 pm – 9:30 pm

!! Tickets will not be sold at the gate. They must be purchased in advance.
!! Tickets are non-refundable. Dates and times are non-transferable.

Admission Prices
If you have an event voucher, please call in advance and secure your tickets before the event date. You can reach us at (208) 343-8649. Mon-Fri. 9 am – 5 pm.

❄️ Member Price: $12
❄️ Non-Member Price: $15
❄️ Kids 3 and under: Free

!! Tickets must be purchased in advance.
!! Tickets will not be sold at the gate.

Bring Your Mask
For your protection and the protection of other guests and staff, masks are required while you are in the Garden.

❄️️ We are so excited about the event this year. Please help us keep it a safe space so everyone can enjoy their experience.
❄️ Leave 6 ft of space between guests outside your party.

Walk This Way!
For your safety, we have a one-way path leading you through the winter wonderland while keeping everyone socially-distant. This means some areas of the Garden are closed but there are more lights surrounding the open areas of the Garden.

❄️ Follow the signs closely. Signs are cool.
❄️ Enjoy displays from a distance. No touching☝️!
❄️ No backtracking. One way.

Corporate Packages
The 6:00 – 7:00 pm time block is available for exclusive access to Winter Garden aGlow on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays.

❄️ Must be purchased Oct 12 – Oct 25 only
❄️ One-hour time block for up to 350 people
❄️ Three 6’ tables, 20 ’x 20’ open-air tent, and a burn barrel

!! If you are interested, contact [email protected]

Dress for Success
Buy those hand warmers in bulk. This event is outside, so be sure to dress for the weather.

❄️ Our event happens in snow or stars, rain or shine, and will only be canceled due to extreme weather.

Food & Drink
We’ll have plenty of local vendors on-site to help keep your stomachs full and your hands warm.

❄️ Roasted Nuts
❄️ Kettle Corn
❄️ Coffee & Cocoa

!! Vendors may vary from night to night.
!! Vendors take cash or card.

Volunteers Needed
Looking for a fun, safe place to volunteer this winter? Help IBG create the magic! Join our festive Winter Garden aGlow volunteer team and make someone’s holiday a little brighter.


Pandora’s Winter Lights

During the holiday season, downtown Portland is transformed into a winter wonderland replete with colorful lights and light displays. Take a driving tour using the guide provided by the city and see the lights at Longfellow Square, Congress Street, Lincoln Park, Boothby Square, Pleasant Street Park, and much more.

You also have the option of walking downtown Portland to check out the lights, but make sure you take precautions like social distancing and mask-wearing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


'Gardens Aglow' decorates Heritage Gardens for the holidays

Sunday

Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich will again sparkle this holiday season with "Gardens Aglow," an installation of lights – 10.5 miles of them – and decorations set up throughout its expansive grounds.

As the lights go on at Heritage Museums & Gardens, it's beginning to look at lot like Christmas.

The Sandwich museum will again sparkle this holiday season with "Gardens Aglow," an installation of lights – 10.5 miles of them – and decorations set up throughout its expansive grounds.

In addition, the monthlong event, which kicks off Friday, will include a spectrum of holiday performances given by groups like Cape Cod Strings, Sandwich SOUL, First Church Handbell Choir and Cape Cod Youth Ballet. Events and activities will also be held throughout the museum's three galleries during the weeks of "Gardens Aglow," including a reindeer scavenger hunt, a gingerbread competition, Hidden Hollow family crafts, and marshmallow roasting and toasting. A model train exhibit will include a suspension bridge, and replicas of the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge, the Eiffel Tower and the George Washington Bridge.

New elements this year, according to Heather Meade, the museum’s director of visitor engagement, will be a Currier & Ives winter scene lithograph display an ice-sculpture demonstration, conducted by Chip Koser of South Cape Ice Sculptures on Dec. 5 and a bubble-blowing demonstration by Vinny Lovegrove of the Toe Jam Puppet Band on Dec. 19.

Meade – who says it's always the museum's mission to inspire people to explore, discover and learn together – hopes visitors will not only get into the holiday spirit, but also become well-versed in the "amazing talents" the Cape community has to offer.

"We are bringing so many performers – vocalists, string groups, handbell choirs, and dance companies – to our Automobile Gallery and they are always a hit. People of all ages enjoy their appearances and always seem to engage with their talents," Meade says. "We have a huge array of things planned from the return of Santa in his Model T to the sneak peak of 'Cut! Costume and the Cinema 2016,' our cinematic couture exhibit which will debut this spring. Every night attendees will find something different."

Meade is equally enthusiastic about the multicolored-lights display, which will illuminate the inner forests of the grounds, adorning garden structures and flora with 2,000 strands of LED lighting. Les Lutz, director of horticulture, has been working with a team of four, including students from Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in Harwich since September, Meade says, and they have created a spectrum of "cool effects." Among those: a simulated waterfall rope lighting that will silhouette many of the 60-foot trees that dot the property and a tunnel that will alternate blue and white icicle lights.

Lutz, who began composing the display in March, explains that he always tries to execute the project "as organically as possible" and is always paying attention to cutting-edge lighting techniques to make the show unique year after year.

"The goal is to create a cohesive experience from beginning to end that will draw people from the Heritage entrance all the way through to the vintage carousel," Lutz says. "I travel to different lighting shows throughout the year and talk to staff where we share ideas and discuss what is the latest and greatest and that's how we bring our visitors things they've never seen before."

While Lutz has been heading up the display since 2011, "Gardens Aglow" has been ongoing for 12 years. Formerly known as the "Spectacle of Lights," it's one of the museum's most popular annual events, and, Meade says, has the power to "bring out the holiday spirit."

"It's absolutely magical to walk through and I never get tired watching families as they approach the grounds in different ways," she says. "And whether you walk straight through to the vintage carousel for a ride, or meander towards the Magnolia Cafe for snacks, hot cider and cocoa, you are guaranteed to have a special time."


Watch the video: Gardens Aglow is a go