We decided this was the year to check out Luminaria and Thanksgiving Point. So many people have been sharing how amazing this walk through light show is, that even though we cringed a little at the price, we bought tickets and headed to Thanksgiving Point Gardens.
Luminaria is set up throughout the Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point. During other seasons of the year, there are many paths to take and you are free to wander the gardens as you wish. During this event, there is a clear path to follow. There are volunteers along the way to direct you, and keep you headed in the right direction. The path is about a mile long, and there are ups and downs, but it is wheel friendly, so you can bring strollers or wheelchairs.
You begin with a look over the timed lights that are the feature of Luminaria. 1000s of lights are set in the grass and they make patterns including stars, trees, Santa, American Flags, and more. As you start down the path, you walk past the Gingerbread building. We walked right past on the way down, but stopped on our way out. The greenhouse has some amazing gingerbread houses (and pirate ships) to view. There are also gingerbread treats! Make sure you take a peek either on the way in or the way out.
The first section after the Gingerbread House is the Peppermint area where the lights look like candy canes and it smells like peppermint. We were so surprised to smell the mint smell, and it made walking through this area so fun. There is a forest further on that smells like pine trees. The smells really make the experience special.
The path is full of different colors and types of lights. There are purple and pink trees, a beautiful photo spot in the gazebo, and even a Christmas tree that you can walk through. The kids loved being able to walk under the lights. We also loved the flower lights in the spot that is normally full of tulips during the Tulip Festival. There are no rivers or streams right now because of the cold weather. Instead, each streambed is filled with blue lights to look like water. It was beautiful.
About half way through the walk, you come to the Reindeer Woods. There are live reindeer, as well as fun games like ring toss onto the reindeer antlers, and bean bag toss. Make sure to talk with the ladies about the reindeer. We learned all sorts of interesting facts about reindeer and touched their fur and an antler. There are a few booths with food so you can buy a treat, too. We bought some mini donuts and shared them around. There are a few fires to warm yourself by as well.
The path continues and you are at the other end of the timed light display. It was fun to see it from the other side. Our boys tried to count the lights, but they had a hard time keeping track.
The Light of the World statues are the next stop. This area has life size statues of the Savior, Jesus Christ. There are soft Christmas lights throughout the area, and you can feel the reverence as everyone quietly walks through the statues. This is a great spot to contemplate the real meaning of Christmas. We talked with our boys about the different stories that the statues represent.
We were sad to see that the Secret Garden was closed because it’s one of our favorite spots in the summer, but they had the secret tunnel lit up. You can walk right through the lights, and they are also timed to music. This was one of our favorite spots along the Luminaria path.
After the secret tunnel, you come to one last gathering area. There are more food booths, and games. They have fire pits as well for roasting s’mores. And a few for warming your cold fingers and toes. We especially loved the giant Lite Brites. We made lots of fun pictures and spent a bunch of time enjoying the warmth in this area.
As you make your way back to the front, there are a few more fun light displays. Our boys really liked walking through the lights that shown all over the ground and across the path. You feel as if you have become part of the Christmas lights. There are fun lights and a disco ball where the waterfall usually is, and some cool lanterns as you make your way back to the start. There are so many amazing lights that it’s hard to write about all of them.
Our final stop was back at the top of the timed lights. It’s fun that you can start and stop here. We stood and watched for twenty minutes and never heard a song repeat!
After going, we would give Luminaria a huge thumbs up. We were so impressed with how much fun we had. There were so many fun things to see and do. Our kids thought all of the games, and being able to walk through the lights, was so neat. We spent over two hours and it was freezing! We were bundled up very well, and we were enjoying ourselves so much that we didn’t notice the cold that much.
The cost for Luminaria is a little discouraging, but after going though, we felt it was worth the cost that we paid! The thing we loved most is the uniqueness of the Luminaria. There are plenty of drive-thru Christmas lights, but Luminaria is the only walking show around. There was so much going on, and it was such a great way to see Christmas lights, we felt the cost was worth it. They do allow you to volunteer to help earn free tickets. We know that this event will be out of some people’s price range, so check out our list of Christmas events for other FREE activities.
Tips for Families
- Bundle up. You will be outside for this event, so come prepared for the weather. We wore a lot of layers!
- Go early. We picked the first time (5:00), and we ran a little late, but we loved being able to take our time and still get home by bedtime. The lights do get better as it gets darker, though.
- Wear glowsticks. They were selling glow swords and necklaces, and we thought how easy it would have been to grab some glowsticks from the dollar store. It would have made the event a little more fun, and we would have been able to keep track of the kids easily. In the dark, everyone looks the same.
- Bring water. Our boys asked for water the entire time, and the drinking fountains are turned off for the season, so definitely bring snacks and water for little ones.