Making memories at Nights of a Thousand Candles

One of my favorite ways to banish the dark of winter is to immerse myself in the joyous festival that is Brookgreen Garden’s Night of a Thousand Candles. The early darkness of winter nights inspires people all over the world to “light candles” with displays of electric and wax lights.

These displays fight the physical darkness with the splendor of light and at the same time celebrate the spiritual meaning of light in darkness. Annually, the Grand Strand Strand’s own Brookgreen Gardens, lights more than five thousand wax candles and turns on countless displays of electric light at this holiday festival which not only banishes darkness with its gorgeous illuminations, but also inspires joy with its array of excellent music and drama filing the pathways and tents around the gardens during each night’s festivities.

From my perspective, there are three things to think about when planning your visit to the celebration. The first is that all tickets are now only sold in advance (to mitigate traffic issues) so take a chance and purchase now. You can dress for cold and even rain—the show goes on and if your are prepared for the weather, it will be enjoyable in spite of any chill or drizzle. The second thing I would recommend, is that if you can do it, arrive before dark. The earliest arrivals for the festival are at three pm. This will give you the opportunity to walk the gardens in daylight, noting the locations of the entertainments you most want to attend and the food tents. Plus you will be there to witness the lighting and the amazing transformation the gardens undergo as luminaries transform this already lovely place into a magical fairy garden with lights strategically, placed around the many amazing sculptures and floating among the flowers in the many water features. The third is to plan out your evening which is made easier if you can take advantage of arriving in daylight. As soon as you see the schedule, mark your route and plan to arrive at the venues you are most interested in a bit ahead of time.

Faye Graham, longtime Myrtle Beach resident and Realtor says of one of her visits, “Loved it!

My favorite time of year. Like a fairyland.” She advises, “Wear comfortable shoes-lots if walking.”

I echo Faye’s sentiments about the shoes and would also advise guests to bring a small umbrella in case of unpredicted drizzles and to dress according to the weather forecast but to also come prepared with an extra sweater or scarf. Layers are important because it can get a bit warm in the entertainment tents.

This year’s entertainment schedule is already posted, and although changes can occur, it looks like Bill Oberst’s famous one-man presentation of the Dickens Christmas Carol will only be given on the last weekend of the celebration—December 14, 15, 16, and 17 for two shows each evening. There are plenty of wonderful entertainment on the other evenings, but having seen Oberst myself, I understand why this master performer is a perennial favorite. Youth ensembles, Gullah Christmas celebration performances – all of these along with roving entertainers and joyous outbursts of song from the various choral groups stationed along the paths will make the evening well worth your time and ticket.

Food is not included in the ticket price. While you can bring your own and eat in at the outdoor picnic tables, there will be food provided by the wonderful caterers of Murrells Inlet’s own Inlet Affairs. The caterers will serve up such low country delights as shrimp and grits and she crab soup, as well as vegetarian burgers and an array of burgers, chicken and friend platter options from the dining tent, in the South Bank entertainment tent and in the Old Kitchen. (Their hush puppies are wonderful!) Water, wine, beer, and other beverages will also be available. Before you leave the tent, pick up a hot apple cider to go—it’s especially nice to enjoy a cup of cider or hot chocolate while walking among the romantic lights on a cool crisp evening. Volunteers make this event a true success, lighting the candles and helping visitors find their way around. The entertainment and food options are designed to please all ages. (see web for complete schedule and menu (http://www.brookgreen.org/NightsofaThousandCandles.html) This web page also had some tips for making the visit. If you are taking little ones, remember that the zoo will be closed during the illumination celebration. However, no matter your age or your own spiritual or secular traditions for this time of year, a visit to this extravagant, exuberant Brookgreen celebration will set you on a path to holiday joy. The garden’s shop will be open if you need to do some last minute gift shopping. As soon as you can, get on the internet or the telephone to purchase your family’s tickets. Once you visit, you will understand why many in the area make this a regular part of their family’s holiday celebration.

All tickets must be purchased in advance and the number of tickets for each night will be limited. You will need to select a specific date when you purchase tickets.
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If You Go

Festival Dates: November 30, December 1-2; December 7-9; December 14-17

Hours: 3-10 p.m.

Ticket Questions? Call Customer Care at 1-888- 718-4253. Hours are Monday – Friday 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 12-5 p.m.

Ticket Prices: General Public adult tickets are $20 and child tickets are $12. All children age three and under are free. Member adult tickets are $15 and Member child tickets (ages 4-12) are $10. Members: To receive your member discount, enter your Membership ID Number located on the front of your membership card. If you do not have your Membership ID Number, please contact the Membership Office at 843-235- 6015 or email membership@brookgreen.org before ordering.

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