Designing a Holiday Light Show

December 13, 2019 Special Events

The holidays are gleaming brighter than ever at Blossoms of Light™ this year at York Street, and thousands of visitors have already booked their tickets to enjoy the dazzling display of lights. We love welcoming first-time guests to this annual event, but we also work hard to redesign the show every year so that long-time members and visitors always have something new to look forward to.

How long does it take to design Blossoms of Light?

The lead coordinators will start designing next year’s show while the current display is still up. It’s much easier to identify the areas where we need more lights, the color palettes we like and the changes we’d like to make while the gardens are still aglow with lights. After the initial walkthrough, we continue to adjust the design, modify color palettes, add or subtract trees and evaluate the experience as a whole before finalizing the design in late spring.

How much of the design stays the same from year to year?

We re-assess the entire display every year, and to keep things fresh, almost every garden gets a new color palette. Usually, even if we really love the way an area looks, we won’t keep it the same for more than a couple of years. But don’t think that we forget our favorites! Palettes we like might simply move to a new location. We may also bring back colors to a certain feature after a break – this year, the teal tree in the Annuals Garden made a triumphant return! We are also always working to bring new special features to life to round out the display. This year, be sure to check out our immersive 360-degree lighting experience in Oak Grove, or the all-new projections on the Science Pyramid!

What factors do you consider when choosing color palettes?

This is one of our favorite parts of the design process, but also one of the most challenging! When selecting colors, we think about the balance of “cool” and “warm” palettes, which colors look good together, where to incorporate traditional holiday palettes as opposed to more unique combinations, which colors are available in each size of bulb and more. We also think about the plant material we are decorating: would a garden look better with lots of colors, or would it be better to only select one or two colors?

How do you decide whether or not to decorate certain trees or plants?

We work closely with the Gardens’ horticulturists to determine which trees and plants can be decorated. Some trees have fragile bark or branches or may be healing from a heavy spring snowfall, so we avoid those trees and exclude them from our design. For other trees, it comes down to basic logistics: if the trunks and canopies cannot be reached by ladders, buckets or climbers, then we won’t be able to decorate it. Finally, there are some areas where we would love to add more trees, but we’ve maxed out our electric power in the vicinity and don’t want to risk blowing a circuit.

Why are certain gardens not open during the event?

While we’d love to open the entire property for Blossoms of Light, there are some realities of operating a night-time event in a snowy city that we must accept. Certain pathways are difficult to keep clear of snow, ice and water. We also consider how wide a path is and whether or not it is paved. Welcoming thousands of guests each night can cause crowding on narrow pathways, and unpaved paths would get messy very quickly!

Blossoms of Light is open every night through Jan. 3, 2020. Advance purchases are highly recommended to get the best price and to ensure admittance on your desired date.

Get your tickets today!


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