"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Sunday, December 13, 2015

"Nights of a Thousand Candles" at Brookgreen Gardens, SC

It was the end of a busy day, especially for our niece Sarah who seems to go nonstop 24/7, taking care of three children under the age of 5. But she treated us to a glorious evening out for Christmas, despite the challenges of getting out of her house without the oldest two kids. 

Curtains of light hang from the live oak trees

With baby Will in tow, we left Mount Pleasant at 7:30 and headed 1.5 hours north on Rt. 17 through Georgetown and Pawleys Island, and got to the Gardens at about 9:15. Luckily, they extended the hours to 10:30, half an hour after their usual closing time. It turned out that an hour was really just right to see the light display. Unlike some drive-thru' Christmas lights, this is a walk through the beautiful sculpture garden that is open year round, and decorated for the holidays.

Also unlike other displays, there are no representational lights. No Santa's, no elves, no snow flakes, no reindeer, no snow castles...nothing but abstract lighting effects highlighting the natural beauty and structure of the formal gardens and their delightful sculpture collection. It is a remarkably effective approach, and such a breath of fresh air during a stereotypical image filled season.

Reflecting pools under the lights

The gardens are divided by color and form themes. Our first experience was walking through their vast ancient live oak avenues, dripping waterfalls of white lights.

Lights like Spanish moss drip from the live oaks

 Then at the suggestion of one of the omnipresent volunteer guides, we visited the multi-colored Children's Garden (even though Will was fast asleep and too young to appreciate it anyway). But we loved it.

Rick strolls sleeping Will through the Children's Garden

The colorful Children's Garden

Just a few interesting facts. There are approximately one million lights (90% LED), and 4,500 candles in the display. Forty people light and blow out the candles every night. There are 5 miles of extension cords.

Our path led through more light-wrapped live oaks...

The lights accentuate the sculpture throughout the gardens

...and on to the red and white garden where an interesting use for wine bottles lighted the ground under the red trees.

Wine bottle lights under a tree

The red and white garden

Then on to the blue garden,

The blue garden

...the reflecting pools,

...and a grand light tent over an immense reflecting pool. You can't see them well in these photos but there are sculptures in all of these reflecting pools.

A tent made of lights covering a reflecting pool

One formal garden was completely lighted with Chinese lanterns so that it felt like a Hawaiian luau.

Chinese lanterns and luminaries

By this time is was after 10:00 and most of the people were heading out because they didn't know about the extended hours I guess. We had the place almost to ourselves...

...as we finished at the giant evergreen tree. It was very peaceful.

Sarah and Rick appreciating the Holiday Tree

Thank you Sarah for a beautiful night that sparked our imaginations and our appreciation for the beauty of the holiday.  It was so worth the journey through the dark silent night.

Wishing all our readers a love and peace filled holiday with friends and family.


  1. How beautiful! I really enjoy lights. The lights in the live oak forest were my favorite:) The reflections, colors, and designs are spectacular! Clever idea with the wine bottles! What a nice evening:) Merry Christmas to you and your family, Lenore:)

  2. What an incredible experience! Your photos are lovely!

    Wishing you happy holidays with your family!

  3. Same to you two! May the adventure go on and on! More lights! More cameras! More action!


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