Is there an annual attraction or experience you’ve always admired from afar, thinking “Man, that’s something I’d love to see”? I have an entire bucket list of these, and last night was an exciting chance for me to mark one of them off! Seeing Bellingrath Gardens Magic Christmas in Lights finally became a reality for me, and it was even more amazing than I’d always imagined it would be. Yesterday afternoon all six of us, along with two friends of ours and their sweet daughter, G, loaded up and headed to Bellingrath Gardens (just outside of Mobile, Alabama) for an evening of fun.
Originally a fishing camp purchased for relaxation by Walter Bellingrath, Mobile’s original Coca-Cola bottler, Bellingrath Gardens is a high-priority destination for lovers of beautiful horticulture, gardening, and history. His wife, Bessie, was well-known in Mobile for her gardening skills, particularly her azaleas, and began bringing cuttings from her plants out to the fishing camp. The Gardens grew more impressive each year, but grew phenomenally after the Bellingraths toured luxurious gardens throughout Europe. They sought out a prominent Mobile architect, George Rogers, to design a master plan for their elaborate gardens in addition to the 10,000+ square foot home he would build for them at BG. After opening the Gardens to the public and being amazed at the response, the Bellingraths began charging admission to aid in the development and upkeep of the now 65 acres of cultivated beauty. We toured the Bellingrath home during this trip, and the house along with its furnishings is something of a marvel. The decor is luxurious and a bit of time capsule from the early 20th century, but visiting it is also a chance to learn more about the Bellingraths and the extensive philanthropic efforts they completed. It’s truly a treasure that all should experience, and their award-winning Magic Christmas in Lights display is a Southern must-see for all ages.
We arrived a little after 6PM before the largest evening influx of visitors arrived, and although we didn’t have to park far from the entrance, a delightful BG employee picked us up on a golf cart shuttle (always a big help if you have small kids with you!) and took us right to the ticket booth. Will Call had everything organized beautifully for The Magic Christmas in Lights, ready for guests to pick up their prepaid passes and had a seamless ticket purchasing line as well. This pleased me to no end, because nothing’s worse than arriving for a fun evening then having to wait forever to get your tickets! The dreamy sounds of classic Christmas tunes and the stunning visual displays of lights had me in awe from the moment I stepped foot into the Gardens. The lights are themed by section, and as we walked through them I was conflicted between being super excited to see the theme of the next section and not wanting the beauty of the current section to end! The displays are as intricate as they are large, and trust me, these scenes are gigantic.
We walked behind our children as they skipped from section to section, oohing and ahhing over the wonderland surrounding us. Even though it was dark outside, we were still able to enjoy the beauty of the plants themselves amidst the lights. A tone of elegance surrounded the lively yet comfortable gathering of spectators, reminiscent of a large evening garden party.
The Nativity scene was incredibly grand and deeply stirred my heart as a Christian.
The area that was themed “Under the Sea” thrilled the kids with the curtain effect of ocean-like lighting and illuminated sea creatures as music from “The Little Mermaid” played in the background. My oldest asked me to snag a picture of him “smooching” a seahorse, and I couldn’t refuse.
The memories that we made while seeing the amazing beauty of Bellingrath Gardens Magic Christmas in Lights is something we will always treasure and it will likely become an annual tradition for us! Giving the gift of experiences and the opportunity to create those memories is one that will always stay the ones you choose to share them with, and frankly I can’t think of a better present. Someone asked me if I liked Bellingrath Gardens Magic Christmas in Lights better than I did Callaway Gardens Fantasy in Lights, and I honestly have to say that they’re equally impressive and very different experiences! Callaway’s amazing show is enjoyed from the inside of your car or a trolley, which is quite nice if it’s freezing cold outside and allows you to munch kettle corn while you drive slowly, but the Bellingrath Show allows you to wander at a slower pace on-foot, revisit certain scenes if you wish, and get up close and personal with parts of the display. Like my daughter did here:
She also felt the need to act like she was “eating” one of the illuminated gumdrops in the Candyland display, and I can’t stop laughing at this picture:
It’s honestly super difficult for me to choose my favorite part of the light display, because the brilliant hues of the lights were everywhere, and I enjoyed them all.
It’s all about what you’re looking to experience, but I can promise you that the Bellingrath Magic Christmas in Lights show is worth the drive/ticket cost and that every single member of your family will enjoy an evening spent here with you. Time is one of the most precious gifts we can give our loved ones, and taking them here for a special evening will last much longer in their hearts and minds than more “stuff” to unwrap and them put away at Christmas.
I was not compensated monetarily for writing this review of Bellingrath Gardens Magic Christmas in Lights, although I was given admission passes for myself and my family to use. All opinions are my own, as always, and I wouldn’t steer you wrong! All pictures and graphics were taken or created by me, and I reserve the rights to all.