Kids and adults enjoy the photo ops available at Garden Lights. PHOTOS BY MELISSA LOWRIE
Light it up while there’s still time
By Melissa Lowrie
The abundance of things to do around Atlanta during the holiday season can be overwhelming. Honestly, it can make a mom want to take a nap until the feeling passes.
Luckily, for the sake of the readership, we took a December trip downtown. For those who aren’t prone to plan ahead, or those who’d rather not battle holiday traffic, Garden Lights at the Atlanta Botanical Garden continues through Jan. 9.
In its fifth season, the Garden Lights hours are 5-10 p.m. We opted to have dinner first, then visit the garden, so that put us there around 8 p.m. We were able to find a parking space in the parking deck on site.
If you’ve ever visited the Atlanta Botanical Garden, you know it’s a beautiful place. Visiting at night, however, is an entirely different experience. Nearly 2 million lights – of the energy-efficient LED variety – turn the gardens into a different world.
The Holiday Model Trains are a delight for all ages as they wind through the garden.
A new feature this season is the massive Tunnel of Light. Orchestral Orbs, Glittering Galaxy, Radiant Rainforest and the not-to-be-missed Holiday Model Trains are also on site to discover. Crape Myrtle Allee is transformed into the Twinkling Terrace, and the huge Ice Goddess in the Cascades Garden is as impressive as it sounds.
Check out the glowing rows of corn and the delightful, flying dragonflies in the Edible Garden. At the back, you’ll find a full bar with a DJ on weekends. There are also spots to buy s'mores and hot chocolate. Photo ops abound throughout the gardens, and there’s a giant ball of mistletoe at the Kiss Me Arch for those angling for a smooch. Our middle-schoolers opted out of the arch, but took plenty of photos and videos throughout the gardens.
It’s a very cool date night idea, and there were plenty of 20-somethings there on a December Friday night but also lots of families. I spotted kids of all ages enjoying themselves in the glow of the lights.
Don’t forget to visit the conservatory. From an Atlanta Botanical Garden press release: “Curtains of string lights, a living poinsettia wall and orchids will welcome guests into the Fuqua Conservatory lobby. Exuberant displays of flower and foliage in red, white, and silver will comprise an elegant color scheme for one of the show’s most photographed destinations – the live poinsettia tree towering in the Orchid Atrium. The Bear Family in the Fuqua Orchid Center will be resplendent in finery reminiscent of the Great Gatsby era.”
According to www.atlantabg.org, “The 2014 light show was voted one of the 10 Best Readers’ Choice travel award winners for Best Public Light Displays sponsored by USA Today. In 2012, Forbes magazine named the show one of its 10 Dazzling Holiday Lights Displays in the world.”
The Orchestral Orbs change color to the tune of the music.
This was a great family outing we all enjoyed. Sometimes traffic can be a hassle downtown, but plan ahead and make an evening of it. It took us about an hour to walk through, but there is plenty to see. Depending on the age of the kids in your group, two hours wouldn’t be tough to do. Also, be sure to check the weather. This is an outdoor, rain-or-shine event and sometimes it’s even cold in Georgia … dress accordingly.
Ticket prices are $26 for an adult and $20 for a child (3-12; kids under 3 get free admission). This was on a “peak” night, Thursday through Sunday. Non-peak is a little cheaper. Before you go – buy your tickets online at https://atlantabg.org – it was a huge timesaver as the ticket line was long.
If you can’t make it this season, plan on it next year. With the growing popularity of Garden Lights, I’d bet this show will be around for many years, with additional new attractions.
The Atlanta Botanical Garden is adjacent to Piedmont Park at 1345 Piedmont Ave., in Atlanta. It is closed Mondays and in the daytime on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
Enjoy the season with your Canoe Kids, whatever you do, have a great time.
Here’s to an adventurous 2016.