The Atlanta Botanical Garden Lights is one probably my favorite holiday light show. It could be because the Atlanta Botanical Gardens is one of my favorite Atlanta attractions. Once you see the orchestral orbs with 14 million different colors dancing to holiday music, or witness the 25 foot tall Ice Goddess – a vision of wintry radiance with twinkling lights weaving through her tresses, you’ll want to make this a holiday tradition. And that’s not even the best part!
Holiday Lights, Garden Nights began in 2000 with more than a million energy-efficient LED lights. The bulbs consume up to 80 percent less electricity than traditional incandescent light bulbs, but also have a life span of five years more. This year’s show (the eighth annual) runs November 17 – January 6, 2019, and features several of the giant topiary-like sculptures from this summer’s popular mosaiculture exhibition, Imaginary Worlds, Once Upon a Time illuminated for a spectacular effect. Be sure to find the Phoenix, it is quite beautiful.
New for 2018 at the Atlanta Botanical Garden Lights
The wonderland goes throughout the 20-acre Midtown attraction, and each year the Garden adds something new to the botanical-inspired light display. In 2017 the Gardens added a new high-tech ‘Nature’s Wonders’, illuminating the world’s natural phenomena through countless strands of synchronized dancing lights strung high over Storza Woods.
This year the three-dimensional light curtain display takes on a new twist with new music, choreography and sound effects in which the more than 70,000 color-changing LED bulbs create images of Northern Lights, a storm at sea, a gentle snowfall, a ranging fire, and cracking snow. To say the show is stunning doesn’t even do it justice. I’m contemplating going back by myself just to sit in the Woods and immerse myself completely in the show.
Also new for 2018 is the Skylights lounge in the Skyline Garden, where the Flower Walk is immersed in a new all-white light tunnel, while a lighted sculpture anchors the fiddlehead display in the Aquatic Plant Pond. You’ll find comfy seating here, and a cozy fireplace, as well as cash bars and a deejay (you can also find other cash bars throughout the garden).
Favorites Atlanta Botanical Gardens Lights
Visitors to the Holiday Lights, Garden Nights can meander among garden displays – including giant snowflakes, colorful tunnels, or get a photo taken at the Kiss Me Arch, all while sipping hot drinks and listening to strolling carolers.
One of the most loved exhibits is the Orchestral Orbs that change to 14 million different colors that dance to holiday music on the Great Lawn. Next to Nature’s Wonder, these are my favorite, I love the combination of the music and motion. You can’t help but get into the holiday spirit with the peppy soundtrack. In addition, there is plenty of room for the kids (and maybe adults) to dance around while the Orbs change color to the music. I wonder if you could order your own orbs in the gift shop?
For the littles, and the little at heart, the holiday model train set up is always a favorite. The young boys doing laps around the display trying to keep up with the train reminded me of when my boys were young.
Warm up at the s’more roasting fire pits in front of Mershon Hall. While you are toasting marshmallows, be sure to notice the Chihuly glass sculpture in the fountain, a remnant of the very first art exhibit at the Botanical Gardens.
I always say I’ve learned more about art by visiting the Atlanta Botanical Gardens than I have about flowers. It started with the Chihuly glass exhibit, but my all time favorite was the Nikki in the Garden. In addition to being interesting art shows, I think the Garden is such a wonderful backdrop for any exhibit. It’s like adding the symphony to a rock concert at Chastain.
9 Things You Need to Know about the Atlanta Botanical Gardens Lights
Go Early in the Season. This is a HUGELY popular attraction. It’s best to buy tickets early. The exhibit starts in mid-November and runs through early January.
Save Money on Non-Peak Days. In addition to smaller crowds, you’ll also save money going earlier in the season or on non-peak days. Members get an additional savings. To save even more, order your tickets in advance rather than getting them at onsite. Tickets purchased after 4 pm on the day of the show are $5 more.
Go Late. A special Night Light ticket is available after 9 pm on peak nights, including Friday and Saturday. This ticket can only be purchased at the Garden.
Dress Appropriately. This event is rain or shine, warm or cold. So once you purchase your tickets, they are non-refundable and non-transferrable (unless you do a Flex Ticket Upgrade) Atlanta weather can get cool, so dress to be outside.
You Must Pay to Park. Depending on when you go, you’ll pay between $5 and $10 to park in the Atlanta Botanical Garden SAGE parking deck.
Go for Dinner. Choose between a sit down meal at Longleaf or a grab and go at the Quick Cafe. Longleaf welcomes walk-in guests, but during Garden Lights, you may want to make a reservation to ensure you get in. And if you want to host a holiday special event, this is the perfect place.
Gorgeous Views of Atlanta. In addition to the festive atmosphere, another reason I love the Atlanta Botanical Gardens Lights is the Skyline bar (with one of the best views of Atlanta) and a cozy fireplace
Trains. My boys love watching the model trains. I remember when my youngest was still learning to talk waving backwards saying ‘lie, lie’ as they went back through the tunnel. In addition to the model train, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens has a ride-on-train on weekends and select weekdays. See the website for specifics.
Visit with St. Nick. On select days, you can also get your pictures with Santa. Dressed all in green, this is a great alternative to visiting with a crowded mall Santa.
Click here for a complete list of places to see Christmas Lights in Atlanta.