Fort Worth’s most Instagrammable new holiday lights display is best enjoyed without clinging to a phone. “Lightscape,” making its North Texas debut at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden on Friday, November 18, walks visitors through a winter wonderland experience unlike any other in DFW.
As the name says, the event features “lights” in “landscape,” so the natural surrounds of the garden are the stage on which the light features shine. The third star of the show is music, and the major supporting character is strategic use of … darkness.
What makes "Lightscape" different from other modern Christmas light attractions is that it’s not a constant, over-the-top, bombastic blast of LEDs. There are high-lights and low-lights, moments of razzle dazzle and moments of quiet contemplation. Parts are whimsical, parts are worshipful.
The holiday season is not (for most people) one steady dousing of joyful Christmas spirit. In the same way, “Lightscape” evokes the many different spirits of Christmas: the wonderment, the majesty, the mysticism, the reverie, the joy, and all the merriment.
Yes, of course, snap those selfies and record those reels, but then tuck that phone away and take it all in as a total sensory experience.
Feel the chilly air hit your face as you pose in the bluebonnet field with a Texas country serenade. Sip your hot chocolate and linger on a bench, watching the reflection in the water of trees changing colors to “Silent Night” in the Japanese Garden.
And if you start to think, “This part of the path seems dull,” look up at a sky-high tree lit purple or green and, think, “I wonder why, out of all the trees, they chose that one?”
Below are five highlights of the mile-long walking path through the display, based on a sneak-peek visit. If you don’t want spoilers, skip to the bottom for some valuable “know before you go” information. (You’ll want to know about the spiked hot chocolate.)
Winter Cathedral – This is the feature in all the ads and every influencer reel. An 18-foot-tall, 110-foot-long cathedral guides guests through a long tunnel illuminated by tens of thousands of LED light globes. You might think it’s the grand finale - It’s not; there’s still much more to come. Andrea Bocelli singing “O Holy Night” adds to a true “cathedral” experience; pause and take in the light-filled spectacle when he gets to the rousing line, “Oh Night Divine.”
The Rose Garden – What makes this fun is that it’s actually in The Rose Garden. A sprawling installation of 5,000 handmade color-changing roses with life-like silk leaves fills the garden where many in Fort Worth have celebrated weddings, engagements, and celebrations of life. This whimsical botanical playground also looks a bit like a retro “Light Brite” board.
Fire Garden – Perhaps the most surprising feature of the whole event is a field of structures that fill the landscape with real fire, created from hand-poured candles, flickering in the breeze. Set to an a capella choral rendition of “Auld Lang Syne,” it feels like a candlelight worship service at a church. It’s a beautifully contemplative moment.
Bluebonnets – Merry Texmas, y’all. A field of 2,000 bluebonnets twinkle and shine and bathe the landscape in bold blue and white LED pixel lights, while a country crooner sings, “Merry Texas Christmas, You All.” An entirely different way to take iconic bluebonnet photos. (You can’t actually plop down in the field, but there are plenty of spots for shots.)
Japanese Garden – Whatever you do, don’t skip this at the end. The entire garden is transformed into a space both meditative and majestic. Trees are lit in various colors and change colors to the soft sounds of “Silent Night.” Water features that look like falling leaves in the pond “dance” to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. It’s an awe-inspiring finale to the entire experience.
Good to know:
- "Lightscape" runs November 18-January 8 at Fort Worth Botanic Garden; information and tickets are here.
- No shows on: November 21-22 & 24, November 28-30, December 5-6, December 12-13, December 25, and January 2-3.
- The entire event is outdoors and uncovered, and about a mile long. It’s an all-walking experience so wear comfy shoes and dress appropriately for the elements.
- The average tour time from start to finish is 1.5 hours, although there is no time limit.
- Concessions (charcuterie cones, turkey legs, veggie burgers, hot and cold beverages) are sold at stands throughout the event. Various kinds of spiked hot chocolate and apple cider are available for adults; they’re $12 apiece.
- There are a few gravel spots and dark pathways, especially walking to and from the parking lot. If you’re not sure-footed, you might keep your phone flashlight handy.
- Strollers and wheelchairs were able to navigate the entire event.
- Tickets (timed every 15 minutes) run $28-$30 for adults, $18-$20 for children (ages 3-12), and free for infants (0-2 years old). FWBG members receive $5 off of each ticket.
- Prices do not include parking, which runs $15-$20, according to the website. A $60 VIP ticket package includes parking.