More than 1 million lights plus 15-foot-tall, illuminated flowers and a field of lighted bluebonnets now welcome guests at the San Antonio Botanical Garden.
Part of Lightscape, the international holiday light show that’s on display at multiple gardens throughout the U.S. this season, the installations are open Friday, Nov. 11 through Sunday, Jan. 8. This is the second year the exhibit has taken over the San Antonio Botanical Garden but that doesn’t mean those who saw the display last year should skip out on it this time, says Sabina Carr, CEO of the garden.
“We want you to come back and enjoy some of the favorites, but 80 percent of the show is different,” she says.
The Winter Cathedral, which anyone who’s searched Lightscape on Instagram will recognize, has returned to close out the show—and provide those IG-worthy photo ops—but the beginning of the display is new. In the Culinary Garden (where snacks and drinks are also available for purchase), visitors are welcomed by tall, multi-colored geometric cylinders created by the Australian lighting company Mandylights.
Those cylinders are also on view alongside lights and a Christmas tree display near the Lucile Halsell Conservatory, which features fire pits for roasting s’mores. The “Fire Garden” that was located there in 2021 has been moved to the East Texas Pineywoods and Lake, where it’s joined by cherry blossoms and other lighted flowers on display around the water.
Just off the lake, guests travel through “Aurora,” a new immersive installation that invites people to walk under the lights.
From there, visitors will find the popular lighted field of bluebonnets. This year, the display is twice as big as it was before and the walking path takes guests around the field rather than simply beside it. The beloved George Strait song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas,” provides an apt soundtrack to the scene.
When guests exit that area, they’ll see an all-new installation called “Flower Forest,” featuring large 15- and 9-foot tall “alien-like” flowers. “Think Alice in Wonderland,” Carr says, adding that the light display is choreographed to two songs by Pentatonix.
Lightscape opens a week earlier this year than last and will remain open a week longer, which Carr says they hope will give even more people a chance to experience it. Around 112,000 tickets were sold in 2021 and Carr says they’re expecting 125,000 or more tickets sold this year.
That means people are encouraged to make reservations early, especially if interested in attending on a weekend night or around a holiday when it’s not unusual for the event to sell out.
“We just wanted more of the community to be able to see it,” says Carr, adding that about a third of Lightscape visitors in 2021 had never been to the San Antonio Botanical Garden before. “I want everyone to know this is their garden.”
San Antonio Botanical Garden, 555 Funston Place
Book tickets at sabot.org. Tickets are available for booking every 15 minutes between 5:30 and 9 p.m. each night.
Free parking and shuttle service is available off-site; on-site parking can be reserved for $30.