For anyone who is looking for a real holiday treat that showcases the finest of the South Carolina lowcountry, be sure to take a trip down to Brookgreen Gardens during their annual Nights of a Thousand Candles program. During selected days in December, the statue gardens of Brookgreen are transformed into a twinkling wonderland, with thousands of candles lighting pathways, statues and fountains, and lights of every color draped over the Live Oak trees and native plants. It really is a spectacular sight.
If you’ve never been to Brookgreen, it’s an absolute must on the list of things to do on the Grand Strand. Here’s a little history:
In 1931, Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington founded Brookgreen Gardens to preserve the native flora and fauna and display objects of art within that natural setting. Today, Brookgreen Gardens is a National Historic Landmark with the most significant collection of figurative sculpture in an outdoor setting by American artists in the world and has the only zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums on the coast of the Carolinas.
I try to make it to Nights of a Thousand Candles every year and I had the pleasure of attending last night when the weather was absolutely perfect. We have been having quite the cold snap lately here on the beach, with temperatures dipping down into the single digits at night. But last night was a perfect, breezy 60 degrees, and we just donned some light jackets.
There’s no real path to follow; you can go in any direction you please. They offer wine and hot chocolate at 2 different locations, as well as cider, fresh homemade pastries and light snacks. There are various tents set up around the gardens where hand bell choirs, choruses, jazz bands and acoustic guitar players serenade guests with various holiday songs, and you can sit and listen or just wander and absorb the lovely atmosphere. One big draw is the nightly show put on by piano dynamo Rocky Fretz, of The Carolina Opry fame. Rocky, a local fixture and favorite for nearly 30 years, fills the largest tent up night after night with his rousing piano playing ranging from raucous versions of “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” to a truly showstopping “Hallelujah Chorus.” Be sure to check it out.
Nights of a Thousand Candles is truly a magical way to view Brookgreen Gardens and they pull out all the stops to ensure that the experience is a fantastic one. If you haven’t been, absolutely go. Young and old alike will be mesmerized by the lights; children especially will think they’ve been transported to a colorful candyland.
Tickets are usually around $15 for adults, $10 for children, and it’s very much worth it. I highly recommend it, and maybe next year, you can start a new holiday tradition with family and friends!
Visit www.Brookgreen.org for more information.