If you’re tired of the same old holiday plans, take a look at the Jacksonville Arboretum and & Garden’s solution to that.
Words by Molly Britt
Between November 25 and January 1, 2023, they will be the sight for Dazzling Nights. It’s a night time walking immersive experience through lights drawn up all around the gardens. Between 5:30 and 9pm, you can experience a rare sight of one million Christmas lights. The lights are used in various sets, such as a canopy of Moroccan lanterns, an 8,000 square foot light up maze, and a live show featuring moving lights and live singers.
The lights offer a “hazy forest of layers” among the gardens in which nature is put on a beautiful display in between the sets. You can enjoy music and sculptures, a tunnel of stars, and photo opportunities for the whole group. One thing we cannot get in the South is a proper Winter Wonderland, but with organizations like Dazzling Nights, we can still experience the fun and festive environment brought on by the holiday season. Stop by this exhibit and you may even get to see some snow while drinking a delicious hot chocolate.
Have kids with you during the holidays and no clue how to tire them out? This is the perfect place. They get to play in inflatables, fake snow, explore mazes, and more. If they are not tired by the ride home after that 3/4 mile of lights and shows, you have got one energetic kid and I will keep you in my thoughts.
The lights are open during the holidays rain or shine, but make sure you have something to light up that walkway. In an effort to showcase the beautiful lights the ground, which may be uneven at parts, could be hard to direct. Maybe let the kids use a flashlight before playing in an inflatable Yeti park. While the kids are away walk under the tunnel of stars or the canopy of lantern with your special someone and enjoy the sounds of holiday music for your enjoyment.
Don’t forget the Christmas Tree? Christmas time is such a fun time to drive around and find all the lit up Christmas trees you can on your journey, and this is one you should not miss. The walk starts with a picture perfect thirty foot Christmas Tree boasting some of the million lights used in this exhibit. I, for one, am a huge fan of the beauty of lanterns and the lights they show off, you can and will find me under the canopy.
This is the perfect go-to for family or friends night when you don’t want to do anything too crazy, eggnog sure can end up making some crazy decisions for you…speaking for a friend. So maybe trade the eggnog for the beauty of nature covered in lights of all sorts for the night. Just be sure to buy your tickets online, as this event is not free. If you plan on parking yourself, plan on arriving slightly early so you can ensure the best time of you life. Now, go out, have fun, and enjoy the holidays.