10 tips to help you enjoy holiday light shows in public gardens

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‘Tis the season for holiday light shows in public gardens. Here are a few tips to make sure you have a fun evening among the lights. Happy Holidays!

1 –        Buy your tickets early, especially if you want to bring out-of-town guests during the holidays. Tickets do sell out on many days.

2 –        Save money and avoid peak crowds by visiting on less popular days.

herb garden at Winter Wonderlights, State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Athens, GA - photo by Connie Cottingham, gardentravelexperiences.com
Overlooks can give a different perspective of a light exhibit.

3 –        Check the garden’s website and social media for important information before leaving your house. You can get an overview of everything happening and information about where to park. Weather conditions, power outages or events may close the garden. While you are at it, triple-check the dates and times of your tickets and pull them up on your phone to save time at the entrance.

roasting marshmallows at a light exhibit
Try a few unexpected photos that give a feel of the experience.

4 –        Take lots of photos, especially since nighttime photography can be challenging. As a volunteer, I would watch people take tons of photos of people standing in front of lights, yet they didn’t notice the great shot of firelight glowing on the faces of a father and daughter roasting marshmallows together or siblings looking at the lights in wonder. A November visit gives you time to get photos onto Christmas cards.

5 –           I enjoy the earliest timed tickets in November when sunset is a bit later than late December. This could allow time for me to view some of the plants in twilight and then play with my camera as the sky turns to night. 

6 –        Dress for comfort and warmth. Temperatures can drop during the evening, so pick the right jacket and bring a warm scarf for you plus a blanket for the kids. Think twice about shoes – navigating dark brick walkways in heels and freezing toes can put a damper on the evening.

Scooter on a pathway through holiday light show.
Holiday light shows are designed to be enjoyed by many ages, abilities, and group sizes – perfect for multi-generational families, girls night out, dates, or exploring on your own.

7 –        Help spread the word about this event by tagging the garden or sharing its location when posting your photos on social media. Holiday light shows are key fundraisers that help to support gardens year-round.

8 –        Consider volunteering. It helps to support the garden, allows you to view the lights before or after your shifts, and introduces you to fellow volunteers and happy visitors.

9 –           Don’t forget to visit your local public garden during the day too. Winter visits may include festive indoor displays, enhanced views since the deciduous trees have lost their leaves, nature trails, berries, blooms or foliage, plus a gift shop to find unique and often locally made presents.

Cardinal perched in tree at holiday light show by Connie Cottingham gardentravelexperiences.com
There always seems to be something in the distance, pulling you further along the path.

10 –           Gift tickets or a garden membership to young families to introduce them to a public garden that offers so much year-round.Also, renewing or purchasing your membership may give you a discount on tickets.   

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