Atlanta Botanical Garden Lights: Brilliant Holiday Fun

The Atlanta Botanical Garden Lights is probably one of my favorite holiday light displays. 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!

Atlanta Botanical Gardens Lights

Photo Courtesy of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Garden Nights, Holiday Lights began in 2010 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 tenth annual) runs November 14, 2020 – January 16, 2021, and features spectacular lighted sculptures from the larger-than-life plant giants of Alice’s Wonderland Reimagined.

Alice’s Wonderland Reimagined features many of the topiary-like sculptures from last year’s Imaginary Worlds: Alice’s Wonderland, but is also joined by several new sculptures.  You’ve got to see it!

New for 2020 and Safety Protocols

New in 2020, the Red Queen joins the White Rabbit and Phoenix in a glowing cast of larger-than-life sculptures twinkling with holiday cheer.

The Ice Goddess will also be back — but this time, with even more new colors in her flowing locks!

The biggest changes this year though, are the safety protocols.  Due to COVID-19, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens will be dramatically reducing their nightly capacity during Garden Lights.  Tickets must be purchased online, and in advance.

Masks are required of all guest over the age of 10 indoors.  Outdoors, masks are required when within 6 feet of other guests.

Hand sanitizing stations will be located throughout the Gardens.

Atlanta Botanical Gardens Lights

Photo Courtesy of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Favorites Atlanta Botanical Gardens Lights

Visitors to the Garden Nights, Holiday Lights can meander among garden displays – including giant snowflakes, the tunnel of light, or get a photo taken at the Kiss Me Arch — all while sipping hot drinks and listening to strolling carolers.

Take a stroll through the Storza Woods on the Kendeda Canopy Walk — and see the beautiful light displays throughout.

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. It just makes for a great light show.

In addition, there is plenty of room for the kids (and maybe adults) to dance around while the Orbs change color to the music.

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.  And you can’t leave without stopping by the gift shop!

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.

Atlanta Botanical Gardens Lights

Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

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. This year, with limited capacity, that is especially so.  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.

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. (Note: This is not happening in 2020 due to COVID-19.)

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 Skylights Lounge in the Skyline Garden (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.

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. (Note: This is not happening in 2020 due to COVID-19.)

Click here for a complete list of places to see Christmas Lights in Atlanta.

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The Atlanta Botanical Garden Lights Holiday display is truly magical and a must see this holiday season. It's a great event and activity for kids and for the whole family. Give the gift of an experience this Christmas! If you are home for the holidays or visiting Atlanta, be sure to check the gardens out. #Christmas #events #Atlanta #Georgia #Kids #holidays #family #lights

The Atlanta Botanical Garden Lights Holiday display is truly magical and a must see this holiday season. It's a great event and activity for kids and for the whole family. Give the gift of an experience this Christmas! If you are home for the holidays or visiting Atlanta, be sure to check the gardens out. #Christmas #events #Atlanta #Georgia #Kids #holidays #family #lights

Atlanta Botanical Garden Lights: Brilliant Holiday Fun

Sue Rodman | Co-Founder

Sue came to Atlanta after finishing the Walt Disney World College Program where she was a tour guide then guest relations hostess (and no she did not moonlight as Snow White). Sue spent 25 years in PR before adding freelance travel writing to her resume. Prior to 365 Atlanta Traveler, Sue published an award winning family travel blog called Field Trips with Sue for eight years, and produced a TV segment with the same name on CBS Better Mornings Atlanta. Her favorite place to visit is anywhere with her husband and three sons. Sue believes anytime is a good time for dessert and there are no bad field trips, just better stories. @SueRodman