Even as Bill and I quickly approach the one-year milepost of our residency in South Carolina, we still haven’t run out of “firsts.” January 2 was such an occasion as we attended “Nights of a Thousand Candles” at Brookgreen Gardens. Imagine over 2,800 hand-lit candles, in addition to thousands of sparkling lights, adorning the more than 9,000 acres of amazing botanical gardens!
Now, let me set our personal stage…the event, voted “Best Botanical Garden Holiday Lights” by USA Today and featured on the Today Show, began the Friday following Thanksgiving and ended Sunday night. Only two of those 36 days were rainy, and guess what – one of those days was our scheduled visit! Never fear, however, because the experience was perhaps even more magical as the rain gently fell, adding another dimension to the overall effect!
We arrived at Brookgreen shortly after 4p.m., and our first stop was the Rosen Galleries. In the portico of the gallery we viewed sculptures that were “recent acquisitions,” along with several pieces waiting for an outdoor placement – all of which were amazing! Within the gallery was an exhibit entitled “Treasured Holiday Memories,” which boasted several displays of model railroads along with a timeline, if you will, of Christmas trees through the years, beginning in the Victorian Era. I experienced a fond flashback when viewing the tree from the 1960’s-70’s, as I could see my dear mother putting tinsel on our tree – one strand at a time – rather than letting us kids throw it in handfuls!
During this event, there were several dining options, ranging from food trucks to buffets to sit-down dinners. We opted for a more formal -but early – dinner at Austin’s Harvest Restaurant and it did not disappoint! I selected Shrimp and Grits while Bill chose Chicken and Sausage Ziti, both of which were delicious! Pair those entrees with cocktails, wine, salad, and dessert and the dinner was just as special as the lights outside!
Of course we came to “Nights of a Thousand Candles” armed with raincoats and golf umbrellas, but the rain was cooperating, and to this point, was light at best. Following dinner, we set out to explore the lighted gardens and found our way to the 6:45 lighting of the trees. Every section of the gardens displayed a different configuration of lights…from Chinese lanterns to floating lighted globes and from giant trees changing colors to strings of lights hanging – with the moss – from massive ancient oaks.
Bill and I agreed that under other meteorological circumstances we would have lingered longer among the lights, but unfortunately it didn’t take long for the predicted rains to strengthen. We also agreed that it certainly could’ve been much worse. It was a wonderful way to end our holiday season and to welcome 2022!
It’s funny – prior to this event, when I asked several new friends what the night would be like, no one could say anything but, “It’s really hard to explain it – it truly is magical – you just have to go see for yourself!” As I’m writing and trying to put our experience into words, I can truly understand what they were saying – and although the pictures are beautiful, they truly don’t do justice to this magnificent display of lights! “Nights of a Thousand Candles” is certainly an annual event to put on everyone’s holiday schedule. You truly lose yourself within a magical garden of lights!
Stay Calm and Travel On…