Running through January 8th, Enchanted: Forest of Light turns Descanso Garden’s into a wildly wonderful fantasy land. Not specifically holiday themed, eight illuminated installations lead visitors through the dark, into a garden blossoming with light.
Timed entry keeps the event from getting too crowded; there are spots where visitors can simply stand for a moment and breathe in the chilly night air and the almost palpable sense of wonder. Kids love the colors and lights, adults are quietly mesmerized. The interactive nature of some exhibits adds to the visual poetry and the fun.
Entering the exhibition, viewers first meet up with fields of multi-colored, ever changing beds of tulips, which dance with light as they color-shift.
Next up: like a miniature version of the light columns at LAX,ccolor-changing columns in the Rainbow Sycamores section respond to touch; place a hand on the five blue columns and watch the colors shift into vibrant purple or pink.
Next, head toward the lake beneath arches of stars.
At Lightwave Lake, push a button and change the spotlights shifting in ribbons of color across the water. When we visited a spooky mist blanketed the lake, creating a truly other-worldly experience.
Thin streaks of light pulsate, part art, part alien.
The Ancient Forest, all ferns and firs, dazzles with soft multi-colored light, an emergence into a fecund land that could be home to a myriad of alien creatures. Anyone remember the charming 90s era animated feature Ferngully? Or maybe Avatar? Both fit.
It’s fun to literally hop on wooden platforms in the Symphony of Oaks section, too, where the ancient oaks become the guardians of guests’ ability to sound chimes.
On the Luminous Lawn, kids and adults alike hop again – onto lily pads which change colors and patterns in a touch-sensitive pond.
A Japanese garden vibrates with red light, creating a surreal and beautiful finish to the show.
We took a leisurely just-under-two-hour stroll through the exhibition. The unlighted areas of the gardens that hover just out of sight add to the magical feeling – we are privy to a secret world, with perhaps other secrets tantalizingly just out of sight.
While a festive event for the season, Enchanted could easily run year ‘round; there are no overtly holiday themes here, just a link to the magic, wonder, and sweetness of the season.
For now, make the drive to La Canada/Flintridge and have an enchanted experience through January 8th. For ticket info see https://www.descansogardens.org/programs-events/enchanted/
- Genie Davis