Wind Through Botanical Gardens’ Enchanting Pathways Lined With Shimmering Holiday Lights

Twinkling holiday lights glowing against the night sky herald the magic of the season. As the days grow shorter and the air crisper, botanical gardens across the country unveil elaborate lighting displays that transform their grounds into winter wonderlands. Bundled up in cozy scarves and sipping on steaming mugs of hot chocolate, visitors can experience the enchantment of these gardens on foot during special holiday events. But for those looking for a more leisurely way to soak up the splendor, many gardens now offer a drive-through holiday lights tour from the comfort of your own car.

Cruising slowly along illuminated pathways, you’ll feel immersed in the glittering lights. Vibrant colors dazzle from above as arches and tunnels of lights envelope your vehicle. Glistening snowflakes, dancing reindeer, larger-than-life flowers, and shimmering icicles line your drive through the meticulously decorated gardens. As you wind through the gardens’ enchanted routes, the cheer of the season surrounds you.

botanical gardens drive through lights

Botanical Gardens Light Up for the Holidays

During the holiday season, many botanical gardens showcase their horticultural beauty in a whole new light. From late November through December, gardens across the United States host special nighttime events featuring creative light displays throughout their grounds. Some gardens, like the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Virginia, offer visitors a choice between walking through over a million glittering lights or driving through a mile-long display. Others, like the Atlanta Botanical Garden, provide a magical driving tour as the exclusive way to experience their holiday lights.

While walk-through light displays allow you to stroll at your own pace, drive-through options provide effortless entertainment from the comfort of your car. With the heat cranked up and your favorite holiday tunes playing, you can stay toasty while marveling at the gardens’ transformations. Pull on your coziest sweater, fill up your thermos with hot cocoa, and get ready to cruise through stunning gardens illuminated with holiday magic.

Why Drive-Through Lights Have Become Popular

In many parts of the country, drive-through holiday lights displays have become cherished seasonal traditions. Packing into the car and slowly driving through extravagant light shows offers fun for all ages. Little ones love seeing their favorite holiday characters come to life in lights. For busy families, it provides easy entertainment without having to bundle up and brave the cold. Drive-through options are also more accessible for people with disabilities or mobility challenges.

The COVID-19 pandemic increased the appeal of outdoor drive-through experiences. They allow social distancing while still enjoying festive community events. Due to this rising demand, more botanical gardens have been offering drive-through lights. These displays deliver joy and light up the dark winter months when people need it most.

Planning Your Drive-Through Botanical Garden Visit

If you’re looking to bask in holiday cheer from the comfort of your car, here are some tips for planning a trip to a botanical garden light display:

  • Purchase tickets online in advance – many shows sell out, especially closer to Christmas.
  • Check the garden’s website for recommended routes and tips.
  • Arrive when gates open or early in your ticket window to avoid long waits in line.
  • Bring warm blankets, snacks, and thermoses of hot drinks.
  • Make a family playlist full of favorite holiday songs to play during your drive.
  • Allow ample time to soak up the lights – most tours take 30-90 minutes.

Dazzling Botanical Gardens Holiday Light Displays

From California to the Carolinas, botanical gardens across the U.S. light up for the holidays. Here are some of the most magical places to experience botanical gardens’ beauty in a whole new light:

Winter Wonders at Boerner Botanical Gardens, Wisconsin

Just outside Milwaukee, Boerner Botanical Gardens provides a charming escape from city life year-round. For the Winter Wonders event held annually from late November through December 30th, the gardens shine even brighter. Over one million lights transform the grounds into a glittering winter wonderland. Cruise through illuminated floral displays, gaze up at towering tree sculptures, and delight in themed sections like Candy Cane Lane.

Garden Aglow at Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis

At the nation’s oldest botanical garden, the Garden Aglow display features over 1 million dazzling lights. This drive-through show displays larger-than-life botanical sculptures colorfully illuminated with LED lights. Highlights include the 150-foot long Poinsettia Tunnel, Rose Garden Fountain, and Towering Tree Canopy lightshow set to music.

Lights in Bloom at Atlanta Botanical Garden

Every year, Atlanta Botanical Garden switches up the theme for their magical drive-through light experience. 2022 highlights include the Orchid Color Zone showcasing vivid orchids, the Canopy of Lights tunnel, and interactive displays. With adult tickets starting at $30 per vehicle, it offers great family entertainment value.

Nature of Light at Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix

See the Sonoran Desert as you’ve never seen it before during the Nature of Light shows from November 19 – January 15th. Over 500,000 LED lights transform the Desert Botanical Garden into a glittering landscape. Cacti, trees, and plants glow in colorful hues along the driving path. Tickets are timed to limit capacity and range from $40-$65 per vehicle.

Botanical gardens truly look magical when aglow with festive lights during the holidays. Drive-through events allow you to take in their dazzling transformations from the warm comfort of your car. Cruise through with kids in their pajamas, or cozy up with your sweetheart – either way, you’ll make special memories. As you wind through gardens illuminated in holiday splendor, the shimmering lights never fail to delight. Let their enchanting cheer fill you with joy and light up your holidays.

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