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Best Botanical Garden Holiday Lights: A Longwood Christmas

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Winning garden puts up half a million lights

During the winter season, a different kind of color lights up botanical gardens across the United States. Instead of spring flowers, visitors find twinkling holiday lights, often accompanied by a range of other holiday activities and events. Which botanical garden puts on the best seasonal lights show? 

  • A Longwood Christmas

    A Longwood Christmas
    Longwood Gardens - Kennett Square, Penn.

    During A Longwood Christmas, Longwood Gardens celebrates the shapes of the season. The outdoor gardens are sheer magic with more than half a million lights by way of illuminated trees to glowing orbs to dancing fountains. Outdoor fire pits and carolers add a note of holiday cheer. Inside, the celebration continues with elegantly adorned spaces and towering trees inspired by the contours of ribbons to confectionery to snowflakes.
    Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens

  • Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights

    Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights
    Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden - Richmond, Va.

    Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond lights up with more than a million LED bulbs during the Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights, a holiday tradition kicking off Thanksgiving Weekend. The 2019 event is themed Magic in the Air, taking inspiration from things that fly. 
    Photo courtesy of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

  • Gardens Aglow

    Gardens Aglow
    Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens - Boothbay, Maine

    Gardens Aglow at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay ranks among the biggest and brightest lights displays in New England, with more than 650,000 bulbs. The event is part of the larger Boothbay Lights in partnership with area hotels, shops and restaurants. The 2019 event will incorporate the sculpture exhibit Unearthed by artist Steve Tobin for the first time.
    Photo courtesy of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

  • Nights of a Thousand Candles

    Nights of a Thousand Candles
    Brookgreen Gardens - Murrells Inlet, S.C.

    On select nights in December, Brookgreen Gardens celebrates the holiday season in the glow of more than 2,700 hand-lit candles and countless more sparkling lights. Visitors can walk through the display with a warm cup of cider, cocoa or wine in hand to the sounds of live holiday music.
    Photo courtesy of Visit Myrtle Beach

  • Million Bulb Walk/Dominion Energy Garden of Lights

    Million Bulb Walk/Dominion Energy Garden of Lights
    Norfolk Botanical Garden - Norfolk, Va.

    Visitors to Norfolk Botanical Garden can see more than a million dazzling holiday lights during the 25th anniversary of this annual holiday event. Visitors can walk through the lights to experience the magic of the holidays or drive in the comfort of their car during the Dominion Energy Garden of Lights drive-through. 
    Photo courtesy of Norfolk Botanical Garden

  • Fantasy in Lights

    Fantasy in Lights
    Callaway Gardens - Pine Mountain, Ga

    The beautiful Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia celebrates the season with more than 8 million lights spread across over a dozen lighted holiday scenes during Fantasy in Lights. Besides riding the Jolly Trolley past the lights displays, visitors can listen to stories from Mrs. Claus, watch live stage shows, learn to build natural bird feeders or ring in 2020 with a fireworks display.
    Photo courtesy of Callaway Gardens

  • River of Lights

    River of Lights
    ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden - Albuquerque

    New Mexico’s largest walk-through light show, River of Lights at the ABQ BioPark Botanical Garden, features more than 600 displays made up of millions of lights. Other highlights of the event include a holiday-themed Garden Railroad model train exhibit, holiday nature crafts in the education building and visits with Santa aboard the Polar Bear Express.
    Photo courtesy of Visit Albuquerque

  • Illumination: Tree Lights

    Illumination: Tree Lights
    Morton Arboretum - Chicago

    One of the most interactive of our nominees, Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum in Chicago lights up each holiday season with a series of LED displays that respond to visitors' touch and sound. Highlights along the mile-long path of lights and projections include Meadow Lake Magic, where lights respond to the speed and direction of the wind, and Woodland Wonder’s illuminated grove of sycamore trees.
    Photo courtesy of Morton Arboretum

  • Lights in Bloom

    Lights in Bloom
    Marie Selby Botanical Gardens - Sarasota, Fla.

    More than 2 million lights illuminate Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota during Lights in Bloom. Walkways become sensory light tunnels, and the garden comes alive with illuminated flowers, rainforest butterflies and dragonflies. Santa visits nightly.
    Photo courtesy of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

  • Illuminations

    Illuminations
    Botanica - Wichita, Kan.

    Illuminations at Botanica in Wichita features 37 nights illuminated with some two million twinkling bulbs, paired with thousands of luminaries to light the way. Carolers and live music set the scene each night, and Santa is on-site for visits with young visitors.
    Photo courtesy of Kansas Tourism/Andrea Etzel

  • A Longwood Christmas
  • Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights
  • Gardens Aglow
  • Nights of a Thousand Candles
  • Million Bulb Walk/Dominion Energy Garden of Lights
  • Fantasy in Lights
  • River of Lights
  • Illumination: Tree Lights
  • Lights in Bloom
  • Illuminations

The top 10 winners in the category Best Botanical Garden Holiday Lights are as follows:

  1. A Longwood Christmas - Longwood Gardens - Kennett Square, Penn.
  2. Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights - Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden - Richmond, Va.
  3. Gardens Aglow - Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens - Boothbay, Maine
  4. Nights of a Thousand Candles - Brookgreen Gardens - Murrells Inlet, S.C.
  5. Million Bulb Walk/Dominion Energy Garden of Lights - Norfolk Botanical Garden - Norfolk, Va.
  6. Fantasy in Lights - Callaway Gardens - Pine Mountain, Ga
  7. River of Lights - ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden - Albuquerque
  8. Illumination: Tree Lights - Morton Arboretum - Chicago
  9. Lights in Bloom - Marie Selby Botanical Gardens - Sarasota, Fla.
  10. Illuminations - Botanica - Wichita, Kan.

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning botanical gardens!

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Marla Cimini

Marla Cimini

Marla Cimini

Aimee Heckel

Aimee Heckel

Aimee Heckel

Ilene Jacobs

Ilene Jacobs

Ilene Jacobs

Jacky Runice

Jacky Runice

Jacky Runice

Chelle Koster Walton

Chelle Koster Walton

Chelle Koster Walton

Corinne Whiting

Corinne Whiting

Corinne Whiting

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10Best Editors

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