The Houston area is rife with lavish holiday light displays, from the luminescent lantern creations at the Houston Zoo in Hermann Park to the colossal kingdom of illuminations that is Magical Winter Lights in Katy.
But there is nothing quite like the resplendent spectacle now on display at dusk at the Houston Botanic Gardens, where dozens of displays enfold visitors in a nocturnal menagerie of lighted sculptures.
For 59 nights between Nov. 17 and Feb. 25, Houston Botanic Garden transforms into Radiant Nature, a holiday attraction featuring a mile of lights including a 100-foot-long magnolia tunnel and an immersive Texas prairie corridor with 10-foot-tall bluebonnets.
Several of the displays, including a football field-sized dragon and a 50-foot-tall pagoda, celebrate the Lunar New Year.
“The Houston Botanic Garden is a reflection of our cosmopolitan city and we are delighted to focus our holiday celebration on the beautiful traditions of Asian cultures,” said Jill Barry, Houston Botanic Garden’s CEO. “As with our global gardens, we strive to authentically reflect the regions and cultures of the world around us, and we want our holiday light experience to help expand guests’ appreciation for and understanding of that.”
At a glance
- 📍Venue: Houston Botanic Garden, 1 Botanic Lane, Houston, Texas 77017
- 📅 Dates: Radiant Nature runs 59 nights between Nov. 17-Feb. 25. Radiant Nature is NOT open on Thanksgiving (Nov. 23) or Christmas (Dec. 25).
- ⏳Times: Radiant Nature operates 6-10 p.m. Last entry is at 9 p.m.
- 💰Tickets: Admission is $28.50 for adults and children 4 and up. Children 3 and under will be admitted free.
- 🚗 Parking: On-site parking is available via the Garden’s main entrance at 1 Botanic Lane off Park Place Blvd. for a $10 fee. For $5 per vehicle, visitors can park off-site at METRO’s Monroe Park & Ride lot and shuttle to and from the garden.
- ☕Concessions: Vendors on-site offer a selection of festive food and drink options, including alcoholic beverages.
Lights, lanterns, action
Eager to experience Houston’s newest holiday light show, I scored advance tickets to the Radiant Nature so I could visit ahead of opening day.
Here are a few takeaways from my visit:
- At dusk on Nov. 16, the garden was a glow with lighted lanterns. They blinked and shimmered, and some lantern sculptures even moved,
- Sculpted in metal and covered in painted cloth, Radiant Nature’s enormous lanterns occupy several show gardens at the Houston Botanic Garden. The merry and bright displays feature dazzling, supersized flora and fauna.
- I oohed and aahed as the glowing extravaganza flashed before me as I meandered through the botanic garden. The elaborately constructed scenes included dozens of fluttering insects, brilliant flowers, and activations.
- The spectacular displays were totally immersive and unlike anything I’ve experienced, engulfing me in a kaleidoscope-like landscape of otherworldly scenery.
- Some of my favorite scenes incorporated Houston and Texas wildlife.
- There are several stunning tunnels you can wander through including flower tunnels, a wisteria tunnel, a Zodiac tunnel, and a lantern tunnel.
- An interactive zone featured flower chairs, illuminated swings, whimsical seesaws, a digital kaleidoscope you can step inside, and numerous photo opportunities including rainbow wings.
- Food vendors are stationed midway through the trail, before the Lunar New Year portion of the exhibit. Dumplings are among the offerings available.
- The Lunar New Year exhibit was illuminating, and not only because of its plethora of huge lanterns. As I traveled through the displays, I learned about the nine mythological sons of the Dragon King. In addition to these creatures, there was a massive dragon, fish lanterns, and a cannon that puffed air.
- All in all, walking at a slow pace with several stops to take pictures and videos, it took me about 45 minutes to complete the course.
- Joy of all joys, there was no wait and only a small crowd. I felt I could take my time and walk through the light trail at my own pace. I wasn’t confronted by the crush of humanity that I often experience at many of the area’s cherished holiday destinations where it’s often a struggle simply to get a glimpse of the displays, much less enjoy oneself.
- I walked away from Radiant Nature with the sense that I had seen something wonderful and totally unlike anything I had experience before.
See more scenes from Radiant Nature in the video player at the top of the page.
For more information about Radiant Nature, visit hbg.org/series/radiant-nature/.
What’s your favorite light show in the Houston area? What makes it so special? 📸 Don’t forget to share all your festive fun with us at Click2Pins. We love featuring your photos online and on TV!