Chicago Botanic Garden’s Lightscape + A Giveaway

The Chicago Botanic Garden has always been my happy place. No matter the season, its beautiful tranquility is the perfect spot to slow down, unplug, and reconnect with nature. This year the Chicago Botanic Garden is hosting the US debut of Lightscape, a breathtaking way for visitors to connect with its gorgeous grounds this holiday season. Here’s what to expect from Chicago Botanic Garden’s Lightscape exhibit:

My family and I received complimentary admission to Lightscape. All opinions are my own.

What is Lightscape?

Lightscape is a festive, immersive trail of color, imagination, and sound. On the after-dark illuminated trail, you’ll escape into a festive world of color, imagination—and sound.  Families, couples, and friends are invited to get into the holiday spirit by interacting with musical trees, marveling at twinkling waterfalls, dancing on projection floors, and much more.

The Lightscape Trail

The Lightscape trail covers vast areas of the Chicago Botanic Garden, starting at the Rose Garden—which has been transformed into a tranquil Fire Garden, continuing towards the Japanese Garden and culminating at the Esplanade, which boasts a six minute Field of Light finale.

The mile-long path is both wheelchair and stroller accessible, although it may become a bit difficult to navigate through crowded areas such as the Feast of Light or if there is snow or ice on the ground. I recommend bringing an umbrella stroller as opposed to a wagon to ensure everyone’s safety while walking through the Lightscape trail.

There are also benches and snack stations (with fire pits to warm up or roast s’mores) located throughout the Lightscape trail in case you or someone in your party wants to pause and take in the gorgeous illuminations. Once you begin the Lightscape trail you have to go through it in its entirety, so make sure you have everything you need (camera, water bottle, mittens, etc.) before you start your illuminated journey.

Lightscape Highlights

While I don’t want to give the ENTIRE exhibit away, there are some major highlights that you should know about before you head to the Chicago Botanic Garden’s sparkling exhibit.

Fire Garden—The first major installation you will come across on the Lightscape path, this quiet, calming display of fire sets the tone for a beautiful, contemplative journey. Take a deep breathe while watching the flames and notice the frankincense in the air.

Singing Trees—The singing that you hear while walking along the Lightscape path isn’t from a live chorus. Instead, it comes from ten large trees festooned with more than a half mile of LED lights. The trees perform as a harmonized choir and are activated as Lightscape visitors pass by.

Feast of Light—Ever wonder what it would be like to get wrapped up in Christmas lights? Well, you can experience it for yourself at the large, immersive, walk-through Feast of Light experience that uses suspended strands of light to create feelings of presence and movement.

Cathedral of Light—The piece de resistance’ of Lightscape, the towering Cathedral of Light arch leads visitors along a 110-foot long tunnel of light. The photos truly don’t do it justice. Pro tip—Take a photo about five feet from the exit so that you have not only the glistening white lights in your photo, but also the green illuminated trees outside the Cathedral of Light.

Field of Light—The grand finale of the Lightscape trail, the six minute long light show fills the Esplanade with thousands of points of light that dance their way to music in multiple patterns and colors. It is a showstopper and a favorite with kids.

Tips for Visiting Lightscape

Since Lightscape is making its US debut at the Chicago Botanic Garden this year, premiere times will undoubtedly sell out quickly. Buy your tickets early to get your preferred date and time.

Dress warmly (including warm socks and sturdy shoes), since the Lightscape trail takes about an hour to complete if you stop to take pictures and enjoy a drink or two at the snack stations. Wearing touch screen gloves is a great option so your hands don’t get cold while you are snapping away!

Purchase a light up necklace for kiddos BEFORE you get to the Garden not only to save money, but also to have another way to keep an eye on wandering kids.

Practice taking pictures in the dark BEFORE attending Lightscape. That way you won’t end up in the middle of the Feast of Light frustrated because your selfie keeps coming out blurry (basically learn from my mistake!). Many phones have night or low light modes—test them out before heading to the exhibit. Bringing a selfie stick is helpful, too, but leave the tripod at home.

Talk to the Chicago Botanic Garden staff that guides you throughout the Lightscape trail. Most of them are incredibly kind and will offer to take your picture, in addition to sharing things they learned while setting up the exhibit.

Purchase your parking online to save 50%. Members always park for free (and as a Chicago Botanic Member, like me, you enjoy a wide array of benefits!). You can also save $2 by buying tickets online instead of day-of tickets.

If you are delayed the Chicago Botanic Garden team will accommodate your late arrival, but do note that the last Lightscape entry is 8:30 p.m. and the exhibit closes at 10 p.m.

Lightscape Ticket GIVEAWAY

I’m happy to share that the Chicago Botanic Garden has given me TWO PAIRS of tickets to give away to my online audience. I will be administering one giveaway over on my Instagram page and the other right here on the blog. What do you have to do?

*Comment on this post with what you are MOST EXCITED TO SEE AT LIGHTCAPE

*That’s it. Seriously.

Entries close one week from today—Friday, November 29th—at noon CST. The winner will be contacted via email and will receive a pair of non

Be sure to check out my popular post on where to find the Best Christmas Lights in Chicago, as well as my Christmas in Chicago Bucket List suggestions before the season is through!

Enjoy the Lights!


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  1. Gabi Chowaniak says

    The cathedral of golden lights looks enchanted! Something I have never seen before. Definitively going there!
    Thank you for the review and tips.

  2. Lisa Hellgeth says

    How do you pick just one thing?! My kids can’t get enough roasted marshmallows, so I’ll say the fire garden!

  3. Joe Torraco says

    Saw ice castles with grandson in February.would love to look for comparison and sense being in the castle.cathedaral probably most appealing love old church’s

  4. Isabel says

    I’ve never been to this but am soo excited about it. In particular, I want to take my oldest who is autistic and I think would ESPECIALLY enjoy the sensory input.

  5. Rebecca Powrozek says

    I’m most excited to see the fire garden! My daughters will love this experience! Thank you for sharing your experience and the giveaway!

  6. Dawn Parikh says

    Most excited to get wrapped up in lights at the Feasts of Light for a 3 generations photo with me, my mom and my daughter!

  7. Pam Duffey says

    I love walking around with a cup of hot chocolate. Went to Morton arboretum last year, would love to go to botanic garden’s this year, I heard botanic is much better.

  8. Valerie Thompson says

    Wow! Your pictures are stunning! I would be excited to see the whole thing! I’ve never been! Thank you for sharing!

  9. KG says

    The entire exhibit looks amazing, but the Cathedral of Light is particularly impressive! Would love to take the family to go see this!

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