Outdoor Holiday

LA Arboretum's ‘Lightscape' Begins Its Seasonal Shimmer

The Arcadia garden will glimmer and glow after sunset, thanks to several illuminated installations.

Alysia Gray Painter

What to Know

  • Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden
  • Nov. 12, 2021 through Jan. 16, 2022
  • $32 adult; $20 child 3 to 12

The storybooks all have it right: You'll see almost any wondrous sight when entering a magical forest, whether or not you have a map in hand.

But if it is nighttime, and near the end of the year, and some creative wizards have been hard at work installing oversized stars, glimmering tunnels of light, and bulb-beautiful shows set to holiday music?

Then the magical forest you've entered is located in Arcadia, at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden.

And this spacious expanse of twinkling trees and luminescent lakes has a moniker to match its inherent magic: It's "Lightscape," a two-month holiday happening that just debuted at the 127-acre property.

But this made-for-the-season spectacular isn't full of some of the sights you might expect at other year-end, yuletide-themed events: Call it a more expressive and offbeat expression of the wintertime celebrations, where a walk through the trees will produce all sorts of whimsical experiences.

Each impressive installation that visitors encounter is intriguingly lit, as the event's name suggests, and a number of spots boast unusual and uplifting instrumentals that complement a display's dazzle.

Some palm trees seem to sing, as the light strings that enrobe them flicker on and off, while huge metal starbursts pulse along to curious chords.

The ethereal moments continue to roll out the deeper you venture into this magical forest: Intense green dots move across the limbs of stately redwoods, lit-up lotuses occupy the center of a lake, and a step-inside pavilion dazzles in Day-Glo colors.

Every installation found along the wending route has its own distinctive mood, in short, from bright and humorous to deep and contemplative.

And you haven't even reached the forest dell fantasia filled with light-reflecting disco balls yet. Looking for a vibe? A plethora of panache? A surreal scene you'll likely file at the very front of your memory cabinet? This is it.

People will sometimes claim that there's an excess of in-your-face, non-stop energy surrounding over-the-top seasonal displays when November arrives.

If you prefer a holiday experience to be less in-your-face and more in-your-dreams, and up-in-your-thoughts, and weaving-through-your-mind, "Lightscape" is the cool, contemplative, and ultra-visual adventure you seek, with a heaping helping of nature-based beauty to add allure.

Contact Us