Winter Lights at the Arboretum

Each winter, during the holiday season, the NC Arboretum does their Winter Lights exhibit. In years past, this has been a walking exhibit in the garden area with games and hot chocolate next to an open fire in one of three firepit areas. See more of the previous shows in my post Winter Lights 2017. This year, the show was converted to a drive through only show. Entering the gates, we were greeted with a lighted sign and bright ornaments.

I have to say that they outdid themselves, making this show worth the price of admission. This forest of blue trees twinkled at the first turn in the road, with a deer peeking out.

As we slowly drove further into the park, lighted figures were hidden among the trees, like this deer. Threes were lit with single color lights. At one point, large upward pointing flood lights changed colors on the bare tree limbs.

As we got to the parking area, the big tree from previous shows was at the entrance, and making all kinds of patterns and designs in color lights. It was in constant movement.

Traffic was routed through the parking lot in a serpentine fashion, with lights in the trees.

Sorry, this one is a bit blurry, but you can see the beautiful colors and how densely the lights were strung.

Along the edge, a row of arches lined one side.

On the other side, a blue heron stands among the trees.

Near the buildings, animated figures moved, like this butterfly’s wings fluttering.

A bit of humor, the caterpillar with a big grin was lit up in purple and red. This was the snowflake archway in the past. Gold mushrooms sparkle in the lower right, next to a design in the grass that looks a bit like a map of the United States.

A snail and a grasshopper exchange holiday greetings near the coral bells, while more grasshoppers hide under the leaves. A big bee on the left had moving wings.

Making the next turn in the lot, parking was not allowed, you had to keep moving between the reflector lights on the ground. Coming up on the left, a wall of lights was making interesting patterns.

Seen a little closer, the lighter green colors waved across the darker blue like water.

Another turn and golden lights frame two deer, with a rainbow behind.

Then, what fun! A tunnel to drive through, surrounded by golden light. Ahead, blue lights on low shrubs beckon us forward. Those went around a circle and we got to come back through the tunnel again going the other way.

Polar bears frolic next to an igloo.

Topiary lights change colors as we go by.

The last row of lights were all daisies, and lined both sides of the street. It was difficult to get these, sorry the pic is a bit blurry.

The exit of the park bids us all a Good Night.

What fun, and a welcome treat for an austere year. Are you seeing any light shows near you this year? What are you doing for fun?

22 thoughts on “Winter Lights at the Arboretum

  1. Rita C.

    Fun! We drove our local city park to see lights on Wednesday, and then through our old neighborhood. It’s so fun to see what sparks people’s interests and creativity.

  2. Donna Weeks

    Very nice drive in light show. We were in Wilson County TN for Thanksgiving and went to the Christmas light show that was at their fairgrounds. Drive in also, filled with plenty of lights in creative patterns and designs.

  3. Linda Sink

    Thank you so much for sharing the beautiful lights. I live in Maine but am from NC. I won’t be able to get home for Christmas this year, and seeing all the beauty of the light display, made it like almost being there. Thank you!

  4. Brenda @ Songbird Designs

    Thanks for sharing! I’m like a kid when it comes to Christmas lights!! I always love going to Pigeon Forge to see the Christmas lights but not sure that will happen anytime soon! 😦 But I will be driving around the neighborhood and surrounding areas!!

  5. Thanks for sharing your drive through the light display. Lovely that they could continue a tradition with modification to the normal “walk through”. We have a little display locally, called Winter WonderFest ( in Milton Delaware. They converted to a total drive through. We had reservations for Monday night this week, and I rode with my youngest granddaughter and her parents, while my hubby rode with the other 3 grandkids and their parents. We were in line for 5 pm, and it was dark before we drove through. The absolute JOY coming from a four year old was worth the ticket price. I love that the event has sponsors, and this is an event to raise money for charity. In another local community, they have created a “Christmas lights” map ( and you can download a google map pinpointing all the homes that are registered and lit. We plan an evening drive next week.

  6. Joan Sheppard

    So beautiful! Wish we could come down to see this in person. Maybe next year.
    My Dad used to take me for the “light tour” of the neighborhood and now I do that for the grandkids. More people had the time to put out lights this year, some old favs, some crazy fun new ones. My husband does the lights as he takes down the Halloween stuff (while it’s still warm). Wish it would snow so cover some of the wires!
    Thanks – I feel like I was there.

  7. Wow, what an amazing winter lights show. I loved all the photo scenes you shared, but that caterpillar just quacks me up. Too cute. Our new neighborhood appears to really be getting into the holiday season. We plan to take a walk tonight to enjoy all the decorations at night.

  8. Gretchen Romanelli

    Thank you for the pictures of the drive through light show. I like to go out for a nighttime drive ( alone this year) and look at people’s house decorations. When the children were young, we did it Christmas eve drive around after evening church service. We each chose a favorite and tried to find one with the most lights or other categories.
    One perennial favorite is no more. A rural family broadcast holiday music via am radio and synchronized lights that had a 15 minute repeat. They had a small 4 car parking area on the lawn and neighbors did not object as long as it was off by 11 pm. A hidden local gem.
    I plan to drive around and find some places with lights. Then ask siblings to take a drive individually one evening in their cars and talk on phones while taking a route to my favorites. And see their local favorites.

  9. Donna Irmis

    Thank you for the light show! Since moving to SC I have missed the arboretum in the Chicago area which always had a light show at Christmas. Maybe next year, I’ll try to drive up to the NC site for the Christmas show.

  10. Jean McKinstry

    That is a real delight to see how, and what a treat to see all those coloured lights, the rainbow, the animals, I truly could not pick just one to be a favourite, what a lot of thought went into this display.

  11. That’s so pretty! What a treat to experience! I need to see if there’s something here like that for us. There are several to walk through, but I would enjoy one to drive through.

  12. thedarlingdogwood

    Looks beautiful! We did the lights at the Speedway in Concord on Monday. About a 20 minute wait to get in, then almost exactly an hour to drive the whole route. I think I would have enjoyed it even without the 7-year-old! A good time was had by all 3 of us, and since it was just us in our car it felt completely safe.

  13. That is a wonderful display. Some very creative people have done a great job. How sensible to make it drive through! Thank you for sharing these delightful pictures.

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