ATLANTA - Ask Mary Pat Matheson how she felt ten years ago as Atlanta Botanical Garden unveiled its very first Garden Lights, Holiday Nights, and the garden’s President & CEO gives quick answer: “Scared to death! Oh my God, we were terrified! We didn't know if anyone would come!"
Of course, they came. In fact, visitation that first year more than doubled the garden’s projections, making the holiday light show an instant sensation. Since then, more than a million-and-a-half visitors have included Garden Lights, Holiday Nights as part of their holiday season, something that continues this year, despite the ongoing pandemic.
The 10th annual Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at Atlanta Botanical Garden opened November 14 and continues nightly through January 16th. The show presents the garden’s 33 acres wrapped in colorful lights and dotted with unique seasonal displays, work that generally takes several months to complete. And Matheson says this year, due to the pandemic, there were extra time and resources to work on the show.
"This year, because of COVID, we were closed for two months, and we thought, 'Let's get a leap on lights,'” Matheson says. "We just re-purposed some of our staff, and they were amazing. They were happy to do it. We were all a team and they started putting lights in as early as April! Which is unusual, we've never done that."
Of course, there are some changes due to the pandemic; tickets must be purchased online in advance, capacity is drastically reduced, and masks are required. For more information on this year’s show and the new safety guidelines in place, click here. And to get a special peek inside Garden Lights, Holiday Nights, click the video player in this article!