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Galaxy of Lights kicks off holiday season at Huntsville Botanical Garden

Garden transforms into winter wonderland of lights, faux snow, music and more

HUNTSVILLE – Named among the best botanical holiday light displays in the U.S. by USAToday’s 10Best, the 2023 season of Galaxy of Lights at Huntsville Botanical Garden (HBG) will open Nov. 17 and run through Dec. 31. Guests will explore more than 20 themed areas made from over 1.25 million lights within the Garden by driving or walking more than a mile of paved pathway. With traditional light displays and special effects throughout the experience, there will be surprises for first-time guests and longtime visitors alike.

“If this is your first time to visit Galaxy of Lights, get ready for an unforgettable garden experience with friends and family. And if you came to Galaxy in recent years, we invite you to experience fresh and new features along with traditional favorites,” said Sue Wagner, chief executive officer of the Garden. “Galaxy of Lights is a one-of-a-kind holiday tradition that only happens right here in Huntsville.”

Part of the evolution of Galaxy of Lights includes two totally new sections of the Garden lighting experience called Whimsical Woods and Aurora Canopy, respectively.

“This location features more than 35,000 lights in one location, with 200 10-foot light poles, animated wrapped trees and new beam lighting technology all mixed together with traditional light displays,” said HBG Lighting Design and Programming Manager Steven Byrd. “Guests will transition to the next area under our popular snowflake archway and through an entire pathway of light.”

Next to Whimsical Woods is the Aurora Canopy, which adds more than 6,000 programmable lights over guests as they walk through lighting reminiscent of the Aurora Borealis. Guests will become surrounded in a shimmering light that will pulse different colors to increase the ambient effect. While the Whimsical Woods is available to walkers and drivers alike, the Aurora Canopy is only accessible during Walking Nights.

Galaxy of Lights is created in-house at HBG and is an all-year operation from designing to engineering to building the entire experience. More than 1.25 million lights, 12 miles of extension cords, 12 miles of ethernet cable, 50 audio speakers and countless staff and volunteer hours go into making Galaxy of Lights a world-class light experience.

With both walking and driving experiences available, the award-winning event offers guests of all ages the chance to share in the beloved tradition and make memories together. Ticket prices vary, so guests are encouraged to check the schedule and admission details, and even purchase ahead of time, at hsvbg.org/galaxy.

Walking Nights

  • November 17- 26 (Closed Thanksgiving Day), November 29 – December 3 and December 16 – 24
  • The event will be closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day
  • Ticket prices range from $13 to $25 for adults and $7 to $15 for children, depending on membership status and peak vs. non-peak dates
  • Discounted tickets of $3 each are available to those who qualify through Museums for All (limit of four tickets)
  • Gate tickets for Walking Nights are not guaranteed, so guests are asked to pre-purchase timed tickets in advance
  • The concession stand will serve hot chocolate, alcoholic beverages and tasty holiday snacks to enjoy along the walk

Driving Nights

  • December 4 – 15 and December 26 – 31 (Closed Christmas Day) from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. (time of last admission)
  • Ticket prices range from $25 to $40 per vehicle, for up to 10 people per vehicle, depending on purchasing in advance vs. at the gate, membership status, and peak vs. non-peak dates
  • Tickets for Driving Nights can be pre-purchased for any date or purchased upon arrival

Dog Walking Nights

  • Mondays and Tuesdays during Walking Nights (November 20 and 21, December 18 and 19)
  • Admission is $5 per dog
  • Dogs must be on a leash and up-to-date on vaccinations

Galaxy Races: 5K

  • Monday, November 27, at 6 p.m.
  • Pets, strollers, headphones, and non-registered participants are not allowed on the course

Galaxy Races: 3K

  • Tuesday, November 28, at 6:30 p.m.
  • Pets, headphones, and non-registered participants over 3 years of age are not allowed on the course, but strollers are welcome

Registration for Galaxy Races is required at runreg.com/2023galaxyoflightsruns. Only registered participants will be allowed access to the Galaxy of Lights displays for the 5k Race and 3k Fun Run. All registrations are final, non-transferable, and non-refundable. More details are available at hsvbg.org/galaxy.

Galaxy of Lights was nominated again this year as one of the best holiday light shows in the nation by the USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest. The exhibit won second place in 2020 and seventh place in 2021. HBG members, visitors and supporters are encouraged to vote for Galaxy of Lights every day at www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-botanical-garden-holiday-lights-2023/. Voting ends on Wednesday, Nov. 29, at 10:59am.

“The USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice awards are voted on by the public, so it is a genuine show of support from our community to be recognized this way,” said Wagner. “We are honored to be such a beloved part of the holiday season in Huntsville!”

Tickets to Galaxy of Lights are available now at the Garden front desk during regular business hours or online at hsvbg.org/galaxy. All proceeds directly support the mission of the Huntsville Botanical Garden, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Galaxy of Lights is presented by the Damson Automotive Group.

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