A Captivating Experience: Enchanted Forest of Light

By Lori BODNAR   

The Descanso Gardens’ Enchanted Forest of Light is a rare opportunity for families and friends to explore Descanso Gardens when it is illuminated by brilliant lights and enhanced with art installations. The one-mile walking experience is available through Jan. 9.

“This is the fifth year of Enchanted Forest of Light. (We did not have a show in 2020.) Descanso Gardens is a place for people to come and enjoy nature, to take a breath, and have a relaxing time,” said Jennifer Errico, Public Relations and Marketing manager for Descanso Gardens. “We see ‘Enchanted’ as an extension of the daytime experience. You get to see nature in a different light. I love watching the families pour through the gate at the opening and enjoy a night of exhilaration. We’ve had some engagements and lots of hot chocolate consumed.”

There are 10 different light displays. Highlights include the first display, Flower Power, built near the Promenade that features 3,000 electric tulips in a garden of color-changing lights with music syncing harmonies. The tulip garden light display was a favorite of many who attended the Enchanted Forest of Light.

The Flower Power display.

Another favorite was Lightwave Lake, which amplified the beauty of the lake with lights shining on surrounding trees that reflected on the water. The feature included a giant white glowing orb that resembled the moon. This display was interactive, so fog was released when a button was pushed. Colors changed and music played when a little wheel was turned. Children and adults loved the interactive display and a nearby café filled with sweet holiday treats and portable heaters helped warm chilled hands.

Lightwave Lake

Fantasy Forest projected lights onto trees and ticketholders walked along lighted paths that were reminiscent of a fairy world that included misty fog flowing around, adding to the mysterious and fantasy elements of the forest. There were also lights in the shape of a huge birdcage that people could enter, which was highlighted by an enormous crystal-lit chandelier hanging from a tree.

In the Ancient Forest display projected laser lights that moved and sparkled onto the trees resembled fireflies, and a misty fog flowed around, adding to the ambience and beauty of the ancient forest and ferns.

“It takes about a month to set up the lights. We own the show and most of the equipment, [and] we have a company that comes and helps us set it up,” said Errico. “We wanted to highlight the beauty of the gardens: the electric tulips are where visitors will see more than 30,000 tulips this spring along the Promenade, the Oak Forest canopy is highlighted with changing colors, the Main Lawn continues to be a place to play and the Ancient Forest is highlighted with ‘fireflies’ and music. The sound that plays on the Main Lawn was made for the HYBYCOZO pieces using a handpan. Not all the music is original, but it was all chosen just for the event.”

Fifth grader Alisha Singh attended Enchanted Forest of Light.

“I loved the tulip garden. It was really pretty and nice to see all the colors,” she said. “It is my first time going to the Enchanted experience, but I have been to Descanso Gardens before. It was fun to see it in a different light at night with all the lights.”

People traveled far with friends and family to experience the Enchanted Forest of Light at Descanso Gardens. Nancy Morrow, Brian Morrow, AJ Rodriguez and Christian Rodriguez came from Orange County.

“The Flower Power light display is beautiful,” said Nancy. “It looks like a field of tulips. We have never been [to Descanso Gardens] before. I always wanted to see [the Gardens] and the Enchanted experience gave a perfect opportunity to explore Descanso Gardens with family. The Enchanted Forest of Light is a wonderful event that shows holiday spirit.”

Kelly Bock also made the trip to La Cañada to experience the Enchanted Forest of Light.

“I liked the snowflake walkway, which was beautiful, and the tulip garden, which was lovely,” said Bock. “This is my first time going to the Enchanted experience and my first time going to Descanso Gardens. I came from San Diego.”

The Descanso Gardens Enchanted Forest of Light is a perfect outdoors setting to share with friends and family. The Enchanted Forest of Light experience will be open from 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m. until Jan. 9 (closed on Dec. 24 – 25). Tickets cost $25-$28 for Descanso Gardens members and $32-$35 for non-members. Some dates are already sold out, so it is advised to purchase tickets soon to ensure an enchanting evening.