Twinkling lights in the trees and luminaries along trails, stargazing on clear evenings and live music in the greenhouse — the Alaska Botanical Garden has drawn hundreds of visitors on recent winter nights. And there’s one more round coming up this Thursday, Friday and Saturday — plus New Year’s Eve — for the inaugural season of Holiday Lights in the Garden.
Gardens that explode with color in summer lay dormant under snow blankets. Winter brings its own beauty. Garden staff and volunteers make it even better with lightscaping and other visual treats.
Wooden cutout carrots and supersized sunflowers erupt out of snow, giant peapods dangle from a trellis, and cabbages line the bed of an old Chevy truck at the Anchorage Heritage Garden, one of several gardens within the overall 110-acre site. The wooden veggies were created at Cook Inlet Tribal Council’s Fab Lab, a fabrication laboratory for students.
The nonprofit organization that runs the garden began in 1986 and the first gardens opened to the public in 1993. One, Lile’s Garden, has a special connection to the Rasmuson family. The Foundation has supported the botanical garden over the years including with a technology grant in 2018 and a $775,000 grant in 2013 for the greenhouse and organizational development.
On winter solstice, more than 350 guests came through, drinking hot chocolate, walking the lighted trails, and stopping to warm up at two bonfires. A surprising number were first-timers to the garden. Many guests said they were eager to come back in summer when peonies and other perennials pop into bloom, vegetables get gigantic and the scent of the herb garden fills the air.
Tickets are $5 for members and $7 for non-members. Ages 4 and under are free. Gates open at 5 p.m. Coming up:
Thursday — Guided stargazing from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. if skies are clear and astronomy activities in the greenhouse in case of clouds.
Friday — Chugach Chocolate’s hot chocolate, bonfires and in the greenhouse, live music from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Leigh Ann and 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with Jennie Morris.
Saturday — Family crafts! Bring a plain mug to decorate and the garden will supply the pens.
New Year’s Eve — The fun goes from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.