This is the second year that Descanso Gardens, a renowned 150 acre botanical oasis filled with California native plants and oak wonderlands, is open in the evening for locals and visitors to witness one of the most dazzling and unique holiday season light show.
Starting on Nov. 19, guests walk along a one mile long pathway to see 10 sections in the gardens bathed with different luminescent experiences. Lights are projected or free-standing to showcase the plants and trees.
It’s an interactive and fun time where guests manipulate joy sticks to make the lights change, jump on colorful lit pads to change colors, and stand under grand oak trees to hear a symphony of sound.
Just like the Tulips in Spring
Hundreds of tulip lights are planted into the ground along the Promenade, that dazzle in waves with a rainbow of colors from white, pink, orange, red, green and blue.
Light Up The Trees
Walking to the second area – Rainbow Sycamores with multiple towers near stately sycamore trees that are bathed in glorious light. Guests can control the light show by touching the towers and change the light effects.
Walking Under Lit Stars
Walk under an long arch of lit stars to reach the Lightwave Lake. Visitors can create this look in their own backyard by shopping at The Descanso gift shop.
Grab a Snack at the Lightwave Lake
Not only can guests warm up with a cup of hot chocolate or light meal near the Lake House, but Descanso’s beautiful lake offers a shimmering and shining interactive show. This lake was installed years ago by Descanso founder E. Manchester Boddy. The “tree controls” allows visitors to create their own light show.
Making Music Among Ancient Oak Trees
Be sure to stand in the center of the Symphony of Oaks area. It’s a visually spectacular experience for visitors, where ancient live oak trees “sing” with color and sound. Guests can compose their own symphony of hues by stepping on the lit platforms under each majestic tree.
After making music, take the pathway to Fantasy Forest to see Descanso’s famous forests of camellias lit in gorgeous shades of blue and red to showcase the 700 varieties of the winter-blooming plant. There is a beautiful Illuminated chandelier that illuminates the pathway.
The large lawn features Aqueous by Jen Lewin, a meandering pathway of lights. During the day, Aqueous shifts in color and reflection. Here at the Luminous Lawn is another opportunity to purchase a beverage or a snack before moving on to the last three more stops. Kids will love the “Candy Bar” where they can choose from a selection of 20 different candies. Adults will want to purchase the pork ribs with potato salad and Maple beignet meal.
Plants as old as Dinosaurs
Before you reach the Ancient Forest you will walk under trees that look as if one million fireflies are softly fluttering above and next to you. It is one of the most serene sights of the evening. Turn into the Ancient Forest to imagine how the world might have looked during the days of the dinosaurs. Each plant is highlighted with fog, lights and sound. Under a canopy of towering redwoods, lights shine on tree ferns, cycads and ginkgoes from the Jurassic and Cretaceous period, millions of years ago.
This is a newer exhibit to Descanso Garden thanks to a donation in 2015 by Katia and Frederick Elsea, La Canada residents. Their collection of more than 180 cycads, known as the oldest known seed-bearing plant species were planted under the redwoods and near tree ferns to replicate a ecosystem during the Jurassic period, the age of the dinosaurs. Slow-growing, cycads often live hundreds of years.
Lilac Pixel Grove
Glowing reeds of prismatic lights illuminate the lilac garden.
Seeking Good Fortune
The last exhibit is a garden filled with hundreds of brilliant reds lanterns. Walk past trickling streams of water in the iconic Japanese Garden to the Garden of Good Fortune. This is where the Enchanted tour concludes with a spectacular light display celebrating the Japanese Garden’s 51st anniversary. Glowing red lanterns contrast with the traditional blue and green colors in Descanso’s Japanese Garden.
Lights enhance live oaks, and many of the plants that originated in Asia, including camellias, black pines, mondo grass, flowering cherry trees and Japanese maples. Designed just like the gardens in Japan, there is a stroll garden, stream-and-pond garden, tea garden, and raked-gravel garden (karesansui).
Dine at Maple Restaurant
Master Chef Joachim Splichal and Chef Mark Salazar with his team prepare dinner at MAPLE inside Descanso Gardens. It’s the ideal holiday dinner spot to celebrate with friends and family before or after your Enchanted Forest of Light visit.
The á la carte Enchanted dinner is offered nightly from 5 to 10 p.m. to the exhibit’s ticketed guests. The menu features classic fall and winter flavors alongside garden-fresh cocktails, craft beer, and wine.
Descanso Gardens is located at 1418 Descanso Dr, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011. To purchase tickets, click on this link – https://www.descansogardens.org/programs-events/enchanted/faqs/