Nights will shine even brighter in Asheville this winter, as The North Carolina Arboretum hosts its first-ever light exhibit. Opening November 22, Winter Lights will transform the Arboretum’s gardens into a nighttime wonderland. Visitors will have the opportunity to stroll through spectacular lighted displays and see the gardens in a completely new way.
For the first time in its history, the Arboretum’s most visited landscapes will be adorned with unique light installations. Designed with an artistic aesthetic, Winter Lights will enhance the natural beauty of the gardens. The Arboretum has collaborated with Jerry Stripling, former designer and manager of holiday decorations, special projects and events for Walt Disney World®, to create a magical experience for visitors.
At the heart of its mission, the Arboretum serves as a living classroom, modeling creative and sustainable expressions of landscape stewardship. Guided by green principles, the design team created a show composed entirely of energy-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) lights, which use 80% less energy than conventional lights.
In addition to the dazzling display, visitors to Winter Lights will be among the first to see Rocky Cove Railroad, a special winter exhibit featuring G-Scale (garden scale) model trains. The railroad includes two tracks featuring trains similar to those used in western North Carolina at the turn of the century. A mixed train led by a small locomotive pulls logging cars, passenger cars and freight, and a second train loops through a replica of a small mountain town.
Winter Lights will also feature a nightly DJ and dancing in the newly-completed outdoor courtyard of the Education Center. The Savory Thyme Café will offer food and beverages, including a hot chocolate and coffee bar. An outdoor s’mores station will offer visitors the opportunity to roast marshmallows and build their own gooey confections. Holiday gifts and souvenirs will be available in the Baker Exhibit Center Connections Gallery as well as a satellite outpost in the Education Center.
Winter Lights opens to the public November 22, 2014 and runs through January 4, 2015. The show will be open nightly from 6 to 10 p.m. Tickets go on sale October 15 and will be available exclusively through eTix.com. Tickets are date-specific and sold in limited quantities. All tickets must be purchased in advance; no tickets will be sold at the gate. Pricing is $18 for adults and $16 for children (ages 5 to 11). Children age 4 and under are free. Members of The North Carolina Arboretum Society receive a discount on admission. Group tickets are available ($15 per person, minimum 20 people), though some restrictions may apply.
Support for Winter Lights is made possible in part by the following sponsors: IHeartMedia, Inc.; Ingles Markets;
Fairway Outdoor Advertising; The Daniels Group; Our State magazine; Parsec Financial; and Southeastern Container. Each year more than 450,000 visitors experience the Arboretum’s gardens, trails, exhibits, shows and expos, educational programs, demonstrations and lectures. The Arboretum’s ability to meet its mission and enrich the visitor experience is made possible by a community of supporters—from members, volunteers and staff to state and local funds, tribute gifts, grants, and community partners.
For more information about Winter Lights, please visit www.ncwinterlights.com. Follow the arboretum on Facebook and the arboretum on Twitter, for event updates. The central mission of The North Carolina Arboretum, an affiliate institution of the 17-campus University of North Carolina system, is to cultivate connections between people and plants.