Atlanta Botanical Gardens Transformed Into Winter Wonderland

Over one million LED lights, champagne cocktails, a S’mores-dedicated fire pit and a hip DJ have this Midtown hothouse rocking.

Photo by: Joey Ivansco The brilliant blown glass installation by artist Dale Chihuly is even more splendid when illuminated at night. 

Located at the northwest side of Midtown’s Piedmont Park opposite Ansley Park is one of Atlanta’s loveliest locales, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. The 30-acre garden opened its gates in 1976 and has since become one of the city’s most popular attractions all year long. 

ABG is composed of several unique gardens bursting with orchids and roses along with a Japanese-themed garden. However, it is probably best known for the amazing topiary with cobra-shaped hedges, a bust of Mother Nature (or Earth Goddess) as well as its 40-foot high, 600-foot long canopy walk. There are also lots of permanent sculptures including a stunner by Dale Chihuly and many special fountains. Now, imagine all this beauty drenched in thousands and thousands and thousands of lights and you've got the spectacular Garden Lights, Holiday Nights

Photo by: Joey Ivansco In the "edible garden," many of the plants that are harvested year round at the garden are either carefully wrapped in LED lights or surrounded in dazzling displays. 

Allison Wright Warren of Powder Springs is not only the mother of four school-aged children but also works full time at Fair Oaks Elementary in Marietta. So, when it comes to loading up the truckster for a family outing, Warren has learned how to pick her battles. Not only does she consider what will keep them all entertained, but there’s also often a budget involved. 

“Of all the places in Atlanta, I always keep that family membership renewed,” Warren told FrontDoor. “It works at all ages from the stroller days to the teen years.”

Warren learned “the hard way” to lower her expectations on the overall family enjoyment and found that it can sometimes be difficult to take the middle schoolers out with the teens. 

“With four kids you can't raise expectations too high or they will be disappointed if they aren't met. The Holiday Lights exhibition absolutely exceeded them,” she said. “We loved going through and seeing how the different areas had changed with the addition of Christmas lights. My daughter Claire, 17, and I thought Mother Nature looked like Mother Teresa.” 

Garden Lights is a “special” event, so everyone needs a ticket, including members, and guest passes are not accepted. Try buying your tickets ahead of time to avoid box office delays and remember that it is a rain or shine event and dress appropriately. 

Photo by: Joey Ivansco This part of the tour is called the twinkling terrace. 

Pets and food are not permitted but the Glow Bar located near the Edible Garden serves up adult beverages such their signature champagne cocktail called “The Rudolph,” a cranberry and champagne cocktail garnished with a cranberry red nose. Drink a few and count the flying reindeer. Atlanta DJs of Lethal Rhythms start cranking tunes at 8 p.m. every night until closing. 

“The girls had a spontaneous dance session when we cruised through the edible garden section,” said Warren. “The exhibition kitchen had been turned into a hopping bar (Glow Bar) and then they all had hot chocolate. The disco ball was a festive touch!” 

MetroFresh also serves up soup, salads, yummy mac and cheese, hot chocolate and spiced apple cider. Or get a S’mores kit and roast your own over a fire pit on the Twinkling Terrace.

“It was magical and they all got along for a few hours, which is impressive,” laughed Warren. 

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