Zoie Clift, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
Taking in the beauty of Holiday Lights is a tradition for many in the state. During this annual event, around 4.5 million bulbs transform Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs into a whimsical holiday display. The event takes place Nov. 18 – Dec. 31 this year.
“Holiday Lights is an outdoor light experience like no other,” said Becca Ohman, garden director at Garvan Woodland Gardens. “Covering 18 acres of the 210-acre garden, it is an incredible way to view the garden in a whole new light, a celebration of the garden spaces with light, as well as an exceptional way to build wonderful family traditions.”
According to Ohman, several new features will debut at the event the year. There will be a new animated Ice Dandelion display as part of their winter display. “Dandelion seeds will be blown into the wind and cascade in a wave of light through the garden,” Ohmen said. “In addition to this newly constructed feature, some old friends will be welcomed back to the garden this year. Three topiaries from our Mystic Creatures events will don their winter coats of light and Roderick the Sea Serpent; a Family of Mushrooms and the Sasquatch, otherwise known as Bigfoot, will be lighted and fun features to find in the winter display.”
Ohman said there are some features to be sure to check out if you visit. “As visitors begin their tour of Holiday Lights, a stroll through the natural 4-acre Garden of the Pine Wind featuring ethereal blue and white lighting, giant koi fish, a multitude of light-wrapped trees characterizes the uniqueness of Garvan’s Holiday Lights,” she said. “Next on the tour, the 50-ft tall Rose Tree display features a 12-minute musical holiday celebration with an animated light show. Then, visitors can explore the Garden ares featuring the new ice dandelion, ice tunnels, ice palace, flowers and a pond blooming with light. For kids at heart, the fully-animated James the Train offers hands-on fun, surrounded by traditional elves, reindeer and a lighted sleigh. The fanciful lighted Parterre garden and Jazz Piano trio are featured on the Great Lawn, near the lighted miniature Train Garden and free Hot Chocolate tent.”
The event is open from 3 – 9 p.m. nightly and closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas days. Admission for garden members is free and admission for non-members is $15 adults, $5 for ages 4-12 and free for ages 0-3. There is also a Golf Cart Tour option available for $15 per person extra. Of note, dogs are not allowed in the Gardens during Holiday Lights.