It’s been 11 years since the first Garden Lights, Holiday Nights. And over time, the Atlanta Botanical Garden Christmas lights have grown into one of our favorite things to do in North Georgia.
Located next to Piedmont Park in Midtown, the 30-acre garden has been a popular Atlanta attraction for decades thanks to its remarkable plant collections, artful displays, and spectacular exhibitions.
But Garden Lights has become one of the most popular Atlanta Botanical Garden events in its 45-year history, drawing sellout crowds nearly every night for two months.
Running from November 13, 2021 to January 15, 2022, this year’s Christmas light display brings back many of our longtime favorite elements, but with some exciting new twists.
There are approximately a million brilliant LED lights spanning the property, including some 1,600 individual strands of synchronized lights in the Nature’s Wonders display alone.
Read on for our in-depth guide to the 2021 Atlanta Botanical Garden lights, including updated info on tickets, parking, COVID precautions, and an event map (not to mention fabulous photos of this year’s display).
Atlanta Botanical Garden Christmas Lights Info
ADDRESS: 1345 Piedmont Ave NE, Atlanta GA 30309
REGULAR ATLANTA BOTANICAL GARDEN HOURS: Tuesday through Sunday 9AM–4PM; Closed Monday
GARDEN LIGHTS, HOLIDAY NIGHTS HOURS: Open 5PM-10PM nightly from November 13, 2021 to January 15, 2022.
ATLANTA BOTANICAL GARDEN PARKING: The parking fee is $10, and cash or credit cards are accepted. Note that the parking deck is shared with Piedmont Park, so parking space may be limited. If the deck is full when you arrive, come back in 10-15 minutes. Alternate means of transportation are strongly encouraged on peak nights.
LONGLEAF RESTAURANT: In 2021, only members can make reservations for the Atlanta Botanical Garden restaurant during Garden Lights, Holiday Nights. The restaurant is open from 5 to 10PM, with final seating at 8:45PM. Non-members may visit the restaurant on a first-come, first-served basis. You can also order soup, sandwiches & such from the Quick Café at the back of Longleaf from 5 to 8PM Sun-Thu and 5 to 9PM Fri-Sat.
Garden Lights, Holiday Nights Prices
All Atlanta Botanical Garden tickets must be purchased online in advance, and are limited to 8 tickets per order.
General admission tickets include timed entry, with no rainchecks for bad weather:
- General Admission on Value Nights- tickets cost $24.95 for adults and $21.95 for children age 3 to 12.
- General Admission on Regular Nights- tickets cost $34.95 for adults and $31.95 for children.
- General Admission on Peak Nights- tickets cost $44.95 for adults and $41.95 for children.
- FLEX Tix Add-on– For $10 extra, you can reschedule your visit in case of bad weather.
Premium tickets include hologram glasses, a drink ticket, and express entry:
- Premium Tickets on Value Nights- tickets cost $39.95 for adults and $36.95 for children age 3 to 12.
- Premium Tickets on Regular Nights- tickets cost $49.95 for adults and $46.95 for children.
- Premium Tickets on Peak Nights- tickets cost $59.95 for adults and $56.95 for children.
Premium + Tickets include all of the benefits of Premium Tickets, plus FLEX tix, no time restrictions on your visit, a cloth face mask, and a lighted bulb necklace. Premium + Tickets are $119 for adults, or $109 for children ages 3 to 12.
Note that all tickets for Atlanta Botanical Garden members are $5 off. Full details on Atlanta Botanical Gardens prices can be found here.
Atlanta Botanical Garden Map
Guide to the Atlanta Botanical Garden Lights
Glittering Galaxy/Brilliant Bugs
As you exit the Visitor Center, take your first right and make your way through the “Glittering Galaxy” and “Brilliant Bugs” sections of the Christmas light display.
The former features large red and white LED snowflakes that shimmer and shine high in the canopy of massive trees in the garden’s forest.
The latter is a winding path known as the Camellia Walk, which is lined with dragonflies, butterflies, and beautiful flowers towering above you.
One of the big changes for the Atlanta Botanical Gardens holiday lights in 2021 is that, in addition to timed tickets that greatly reduce capacity, they’ve also designated many of the pathways through the garden as one-way.
The Brilliant Bugs section is one of them, featuring a lot more illuminated insects than in previous years, as well as oversized flowers in gem-like shades of red, green, gold, blue, and purple.
The Tunnel of Light
One of our favorite sections of the Botanical Garden lights, the Tunnel of Light illuminates the pathway leading to the Gleaming Glade, where the renowned Ice Goddess holds court over her watery domain.
Each section of the tunnel is a different color, with thousands of brilliant LED lights glowing in rich hues of green, purple, orange, blue, and pink.
This is an extremely popular place for selfies, so don’t be surprised if foot traffic gets a little congested as you enter.
Our advice is to let others pass and take your time traversing this absolutely magical portal to the next scene, which is truly one of the most iconic features of these Atlanta garden lights.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Waterfalls Near Helen GA
The Ice Goddess/Gleaming Glade
Originally known as the “Earth Goddess,” this remarkable 25-foot sculpture created by Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal was a highlight of the Atlanta garden’s 2013-2014 exhibit, Imaginary Worlds.
It’s easy to see why she became a permanent fixture of the Cascades Garden.
With her flowing locks, water tumbling from her outstretched hand, and some 18,000 plants plugged into this living sculpture every year (which changes with the seasons, from verdant green in spring to vivid fall colors), she’s truly a wonder to behold.
The foliage is constantly maintained by the garden’s staff to maintain an artful visage. But as winter approaches she transforms into the Ice Goddess. Greenery is replaced by thousands of brilliant blue, green, and white lights, which are reflected in the pool her water falls into.
An array of illuminated fountains and bushes in the “Gleaming Glade” make this many visitors’ favorite part of the Garden Lights, Holiday Nights display.
If you haven’t watched the video featured near the top of this page, doing so will give you a taste of why of Nature’s Wonders is arguably the most popular of the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Christmas light displays.
The path takes you in a reversed route along the Kendeda Canopy Walk (a 12-foot wide suspension bridge that hovers 40 feet above the ground) through the Storza Woods, one of Atlanta’s last remaining urban forests.
Dangling from the massive oaks, hickories, and tulip poplars you’ll find the world’s largest synchronized curtain of light, with hundreds of light strands ranging from 16 to 64 feet long.
Each individual light is programmed with a cornucopia of colors that are coordinated to lively music and sound effects, creating illusions of natural phenomena such as raging thunderstorms, gentle snowfall, etc.
The 2021 soundtrack is brand new, including a great mixture of holiday favorites, classical compositions, and popular tunes ranging from “Under the Sea” to “The Muppet Song (Mah Na Mah Na).” In our opinion, it was the best display they’ve had since Nature’s Wonders debuted in 2017.
Twinkling Terrace/Crape Myrtle Walkway
Heading back uphill from the Storza Woods takes you past the Visitor Center to the Twinkling Terrace, with Mershon Hall on one side and Day Hall on the other.
The highlight of Twinkling Terrace (which is featured as the lead image for this story) is the fountain of the Levy Parterre, which is topped by a stunning glass sculpture by legendary artist Dale Chihuly.
The trees and shrubs of the formal garden are filled with green, blue, and purple lights, with the Midtown skyline shining brightly in the background.
The benches here are among our favorite places to sit a spell while exploring these botanical gardens in Atlanta.
We also love the Crape Myrtle Walkway, which is lined with trees wrapped in thousands of LED lights, forming a picturesque path leading to the ABG’s Great Lawn.
Another extremely popular (and unique) feature of the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s holiday lights, Orchestral Orbs is an awesome attraction of color-and-sound syncopation on par with Nature’s Wonders.
Dozens of spheres and cylindrical shaped lights are artfully arranged all across the Great Lawn in front of the Fuqua Conservatory, with the Atlanta skyline looming large in the background.
The soundtrack is primarily rooted in classic Christmas traditions– “Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”
But the old-fashioned tunes are paired with next level technology, as the orbs glow and pulse and shimmer with vivid colors spanning the entire spectrum of the rainbow.
Radiant Rainforest/Poinsettia Tree
If you’ve never been in a real rainforest at night, the botanical garden in Atlanta offers a reasonable facsimile of the otherworldly experience.
The Fuqua Conservatory’s Tropical Rotunda is home to hundreds of plant species from tropical regions around the world, including the lowland forests of Central America, central Africa, southern Mexico, and Southeast Asia.
During the Garden Lights show, the rotunda is illuminated with countless thousands of green lights, which glow in the humid, misty haze like the eyes of unknown animals peering out from the dark.
The path eventually leads out to the Poinsettia Tree, one of the longtime staples of the Atlanta Botanical Garden Christmas lights and a very popular place for taking selfies.
Note that the narrow pathway through the rotunda makes this the most congested part of the light show.
S’mores Station/Skylight Lounge
The area around the Robinson Gazebo (just outside the Fuqua building) is often used for various Atlanta Botanical Garden events.
So it’s no surprise that this is one of the liveliest sections of Garden Lights, Holiday Nights, with a full bar and a DJ in the Skylight Lounge cranking out lively tunes designed to keep the energy high.
If you head down the stairs to the Skyline Garden, you can get a close-up view of artist Jason Gamrath’s giant lotus flowers in the large reflecting pool.
These were originally part of the AGB’s popular SUPERnatural: Glass Art in Bloom exhibition. (You can also find several of his larger-than-life aloe plant sculptures in Storza Woods.)
While you’re there, you can also visit the S’mores Station, where you can purchase the ingredients to roast marshmallows over the open fire pits and make tasty s’mores for a sweet treat!
READ MORE: The Best Restaurants in Blue Ridge GA
The final stop on our tour of Atlanta’s garden of lights, Glowing Grove is another new addition for the ABG’s 2021 holiday season.
The elaborate displays of previous years (see: the ginormous topiary sculptures of the Alice’s Wonderland Reimagined exhibit) have been replaced by a simple stretch of Christmas trees along the Flower Walk.
Granted, the brilliant LED lights have been programmed to change colors and create subtle motion. But for us, this section was the only disappointment of this year’s Atlanta Botanical Garden lights.
It’s a cool selfie spot, to be sure. But it lacked the “WOW!!” factor we’ve come to expect from what remains Atlanta’s best Christmas light display by a long shot. –by Bret Love; photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett; map courtesy of Atlanta Botanical Garden