The holiday are for making memories, but we’ve probably all been in meltdown situations we’d rather forget. Whether it’s the kids or the parents struggling to keep it all together, good planning can go a long way. Here are three insider tips for visiting one of Richmond’s favorite holiday traditions: Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.
1. PICK THE EXPERIENCE YOU WANT
(Please be aware these are general guidelines. Weather can be a huge factor in visitation numbers.)
Early vs. Later in the Season: Visitation is usually strong on opening weekend, on free member nights in November, and when schools are out for winter vacation. This makes early December a good time to visit if you’re hoping to avoid crowds. However, if you like the hustle and bustle of the season, the dates leading up to Dec. 25 are usually the busiest (the show is closed Dec. 24 & 25).
Weeknights vs. Weekends: As you might imagine, weeknights tend to be less busy than weekends and there’s the added bonus of special activities (included with Garden admission) on weeknights.
Merry Mondays: storytelling plus “Santa sightings” through Dec. 23
Caroling Tuesdays: strolling carolers 6:30 – 8 p.m.
Crafty Wednesdays: make and take a whirligig
Musical Thursdays: acoustic music in the library
Early Bird vs. Night Owl: If you have the flexibility, 4:30 p.m. is a good arrival time to watch night fall and the lights begin to shine. Arriving later in the evening is another option since the show is open till 10 p.m. and attendance tends to peak before 8 p.m.
2. CONSIDER MEMBERSHIP
Free, unlimited visits in November and January. New this year, Garden members have free, unlimited visits to GardenFest in November and January and discounted admission in December. There are also special nights for members with informal tours and music in historic Bloemendaal House.
3. KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Visit the Website: lewisginter.org
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s website is full of information about this year’s event, including the Magic in the Air theme and special nights including Illumination Weekend and GardenFest for Fidos. Check out the GardenFest Map before you visit so you can be sure to catch the TowneBank Holiday Trains, Kelleher Warming Fire and more. There are even more tips for visiting with kids.
Learn about the food at the Garden Café, Tea House and Espresso A-Go-Go, including gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options. The Tea House offers wonderful views and you can make Tea House reservations online.
Speaking of online, GardenFest tickets are also available for purchase through Eventbrite so you can have them in hand when you come – one less thing to worry about. Add “holiday specs fun glasses” to your online purchase and receive special glasses that magically transform the lights at GardenFest into snowflakes.
But Best of All, Now You Can Win FREE Tickets to See GardenFest of Lights 2019!
Enter below to win a family four-pack of tickets to Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights and experience the magic for yourself.
Dominion GardenFest of Lights runs nightly 5 – 10 p.m. from Nov. 22, 2019 – Jan. 6, 2020 (closed Thanksgiving, Dec. 24 and 25). Learn more at lewisginter.org.