We always make a point of visiting a light display (or two or three) during the holiday season. One of our family’s area favorites is the Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, and we just visited over Thanksgiving weekend.
The locale that boasts beautiful plant and flower collections in the warmer seasons, the fantastic Wings of Fancy exhibit every summer, and an adorable Children’s Garden all year round, transforms into a twinkling wonderland come late fall and winter. Pathways are lined with colorful lights in forms of flowers, insects, animals, and more beautiful and whimsical glowing designs. There are sparkling tunnels, real trees illuminated with lights, and fountains full of shimmering scenes.
It’s so nice to stroll through leisurely (or run excitedly like the kids) and take it in at our own pace. Every corner we turned brought new delight — it’s fun, relaxing, and breathtaking all at once. And along with lights, there is a model train display in the Conservatory, plus live music, hot chocolate, and snacks for sale in the Visitor Center, perfect for warming up after wandering among the brilliant grounds outside.
Garden of Lights will be on display at Brookside Gardens through January 1, 2018. Hours are 5:30-9pm Sunday – Thursday, 5:30-10pm Friday – Saturday. Admission per car is $25 Sunday – Thursday, $30 Friday – Saturday. It’s open every night except for December 24-25. Get a glimpse of it all below before you go!
(Click to view larger images)
See the raccoon?
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Montgomery Parks, however, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will be of interest to KFDC readers.
Dazzling light shows are a staple of the holiday season, and one of my very favorites in the area is Brookside Gardens’ walk-through exhibit, Garden of Lights. The gardens are transformed into a magical winter wonderland illuminated by more than one million twinkling colorful lights handwoven into original works depicting animals, flowers, and other natural elements. It will all be on view for visitors every night from November 25 through January 1 (with the exceptions of December 24 and 25). And I have two admission passes (admission is per car/van) to give away to a couple of lucky KFDC readers.
Stroll from garden to garden to enjoy long-time favorite displays, including Nessie the Serpent, flying geese, and butterflies. The gardens’ trees and hardscapes such as the Children’s Garden Treehouse and Wedding Gazebo are bedecked in a rainbow of colorful glimmering lights. It is a light display unlike any other. (Get a glimpse of it all in this post about one of our visits there.)
Inside the Conservatory, enjoy the sights and sounds of model trains as they wind their way through seasonal greenery and miniature reproductions of local landmarks such as the RedDoor Store in Sandy Spring, the Kensington MARC railway station, Glen Echo Park complete with Bumper Car Pavilion and 1921 Dentzel Carousel, and even Brookside Gardens’ Conservatories.
A new fire pit on the South Terrace is the latest addition to Garden of Lights, where refreshments — think S’mores kits and hot cocoa — will be available for purchase. And nightly musical performances take place inside the Visitors Center.
Garden of Lights is located in Brookside Gardens at 1800 Glenallan Avenue in Wheaton, MD. It runs November 25, 2016 – January 1, 2017 (closed December 24 & 25). Hours are 5:30-9:30pm Sunday – Thursday, and 5:30-10:30pm Friday & Saturday. Admission is $25 per car/van Sunday – Thursday, and $30 per car/van Friday & Saturday.
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Giveaway: For a chance to win one of the two admission passes to Brookside’s Garden of Lights, simply leave a comment below or enter through the KFDC Facebook page or on Instagram. The passes can be used on any date the exhibit is open. This giveaway will run through November 23, 2016, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!
This post is sponsored by Montgomery Parks, however, I only promote events, places, and programs that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.
(Note: There was a correction to the Water Skiing Santa info. It will take place on Thursday, December 24, not Friday as originally posted.)
Monday – Skate under the sky before the weather takes a wet turn! Enjoy art as you glide at the Sculpture Garden; circle the rink at Washington Harbour; meander the paths at Canal Park; or do some holiday shopping then skate at Pentagon Row, Veteran’s Plaza, Rockville Town Square, or Reston Town Center. Several local rinks offer push aides to help newbie skaters. This post has details on alfresco (and indoor) ice skating options in the area, including bonus activities to enjoy while you’re there.
Tuesday – Go bowling! It’s a perfect activity for what’s expected to be a rainy day. Take advantage of Tots Playtime at Pinstripes in Georgetown. From 10am – 12pm on weekdays, ALL kids can bowl for $5 ($5/shoe rental) and parents are free (limit 4 kids per adult)! Eat while you bowl or stay after for lunch — they have a good kids menu and a pretty extensive main menu, too.
Thursday – Bounce on over to Flight Trampoline Park in Springfield for a super fun jump session. On Christmas Eve they are offering buy one get one free admission. Be sure to check the schedule, as times vary by age. And admission varies by time and age, but starts at $11. I recommend buying tickets and filling out waivers in advance to avoid lines when you get there. You can also watch Santa have some fun before his big night out, as he water skis his way up the Potomac along with knee boarding reindeer, flying elves, the jet-skiing Grinch, and Frosty the Snowman in a dinghy! You can view it all for free from the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria starting at 1pm sharp – the best viewing spots will be from King to Prince Streets.
Monday – See an art show full of special works at the Hemp Hill Carroll Square Gallery in Chinatown. Presented by Tracy’s Kids Art Therapy Program, a non-profit that does art therapy with pediatric oncology patients, Who We Are showcases art created by the kids they help. This was recommended to me by a KFDC reader who is an art therapist for the organization, and I think it sounds wonderful. The Gallery is located at 975 F Street NW. Hours are 8am – 6pm. Admission is free.
Tuesday – Hike the woods and wetlands of Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria. Look for little creatures along the way and stop to take in some gorgeous vistas. Bring along food for a picnic, or plan to grab a bite before or after — though it doesn’t feel like it while you’re there, the park is located close to a busy area with plenty of dining options. Open daily from dawn to dusk. Admission is free.
Wednesday – Do some shopping, enjoy a little live entertainment, and treat yourselves to some tasty eats at the Downtown Holiday Market. It’s like a little village in the heart of the city, where you can find all kinds of unique gifts, plus there will be live music from 12-2pm and 5-7pm. Make the most of your outing and pop into the National Portrait Gallery & American Art Museum, which are practically a backdrop for the market.
Friday – Visit Season’s Greenings, the U.S. Botanic Garden’s annual holiday exhibit on a weekday when the crowds thin out. See Pollination Station, the adorably whimsical model train display, easily one of the best around. Stroll the festively adorned conservatory and admire replicas of DC landmarks built entirely from plant materials. Be sure to pick up a plant scavenger hunt at the front desk for some fun as you tour the rest of the gardens. Hours are 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.
Tuesday – Experience the Magical Holiday Express at the B&O Railroad Museum. Along with festive model train displays, the event features tons of fun and activities for kids. Admission is $18/adults, $12/ages 2-12. Hours are 10am – 4pm Monday – Saturday (11am -4pm Sunday).
Wednesday – Choose between to cool events happening the same day: The grand opening of Wegmans Wonderplace, the first gallery on the National Mall designed for children 0-6! The 1,700-square-foot center, located in the American History Museum’s Innovation Wing, will provide the youngest historians with age-appropriate activities and experiences over the next 20 years. Opening day festivities from 10am – 3pm will include a meet-n-greet with “Walkaround Elmo” from Sesame Street; music and dancing with Coach, Williebob, and Boogie Bennie of the ever popular band Rocknoceros; cooking demos for kids and adults; face painting; balloon art, and more. There is also Winternational at Ronald Reagan Building. The lively midday celebration of international culture, travel, tourism, and trade takes place from 11am – 2pm. Admission to both events is free.
Thursday – See a holiday stage favorite on strings as The Puppet Co. presents The Nutcracker. Showtime is 10:30am. Tickets are $10. Plan to stay at Glen Echo Park after the show for a picnic and playtime — should be great weather for it!
Friday – Explore the beautiful grounds and cathedral of the Franciscan Monastery in Brookland. A DC “secret” to many, the “Oasis of Peace” welcomes visitors to stroll through the gardens and tour the church. Hours are 10am – 4:45pm. Admission is free.