Its second exhibit, “Garden Lights, Holiday Nights,” boasts twice as many lights from last year, said Mary Pat Matheson, the garden’s executive director, and they started hanging them in July.
She calls it a “Winter Wanderland,” as it is complete with miniature villages and toy trains, fire pits and s’mores, and hot chocolate and spiced apple cider.
“We’re going to keep enhancing it each year,” she said. “This year, we have a garden mascot, Lumina, who is a woodland sprite. She is dressed like a fairy sprite from the woods.”
Lumina walks around the gardens talking to children about how she lights the entire place up every night.
And carolers scattered around the gardens sing from 5 to 8 p.m.
The lights are divided into sections with themes, including the “Starry Night Walk,” inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s famous painting, featuring dozens of twinkling stars along a walkway.
The Glow Bar opens around 8 p.m., Matheson said, and offers wine, beer and liquor drinks, including spiked hot chocolate and other holiday beverages.
“We wanted it to be more upscale and mature,” she said. “People come and hang out in the disco bar, dancing and enjoying the lights.”
Matheson said more than 40,000 people have already visited the exhibit since the opening Nov. 17.
“We’re definitely getting people beyond metro Atlanta,” she said. “Last year we had 30 percent of visitors from outside the state.”
Rebecca Euinon was visiting Atlanta from Washington last weekend and described the lights display as “breathtaking.”
“We came here before the sunset, so we’re kind of getting the best of both worlds now,” Euinon said. “Our zoo [in Washington] has a lights display, but it’s about half of this.”
And Jean Gottlieb of Highland Falls, N.Y., was visiting with her sister Donna Guilbault, of Marietta.
“I love the combination of the stars in the trees lit up,” Guilbault said.
Matheson said she hopes “Garden Lights, Holiday Nights” becomes a holiday tradition for families every year. “One of the things I think is really important about this, is you don’t do it in the car. You get out and walk on your own two feet, or in a wheelchair or stroller,” she said. “Being with friends and family, interacting outdoors in nature, all rolled up into the holidays is so special. We hope families talk about it and do this for generations to come.”
If you go:
o What: “Garden, Lights, Holiday Nights” exhibit
o When: now through Jan. 5
o Where: Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Ave., Midtown
o Tickets: $20 for adults, $14 for children and free for children under 3
o Information: atlantabotanicalgarden.org/