For the first time ever, Descanso Gardens in La Cañada-Flintridge is transporting families into an Enchanted Forest at night. The Gardens have teamed up with Lightswitch, a lighting and visual display company, to create Enchanted: Forest of Light just in time for the holidays.
We had no idea what to expect because we’ve only been to Descanso during the day. And we were instantly enchanted with what they’ve created. There are 10 unique lighting experiences that illuminate some of Descanso’s most beloved locations, including the Japanese Garden and the Camellia Forest.
The first stop on the one-mile long path begins with “Flower Power”, a sea of flowers made of light that look like poppies. Or as Channing called it, “Where Dorothy visited the Wizard!” Her recollection astounds me.
From there, we stopped at the “Rainbow Sycamores” where we made the trees change color by touching huge bright corresponding pillars. Then we casually strolled down a starlight walkway of light to the “Lightwave Lake”. Dancing laser sticks of light shot up from the water and brightened up the lake area. There’s also a nice snack stop here so you can get some hot chocolate before you continue on.
My personal favorite stop along the route was the “Symphony of Oaks”, an interactive experience that allows visitors to manipulate the sounds and lights coming from the trees in the Oak Grove. There weren’t very many people around us so it had an eerie, almost hauntingly surreal feel about it. Chan loved jumping on the lights around the trees to make the sounds and I just wanted to sit in the middle of them all and listen…
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But Channing’s favorite part was without a doubt “The Pool” created by light installation artist Jen Lewin. At first glance the two areas look like big blue pools of water in the dark, but when you step on each “puddle” they change colors. It was like watching a bunch of frogs jump from lily pad to lily pad. The only way I could coax her away from this area was with the promise of a hot chocolate which was thankfully only a few steps away.
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There are 2 snack stands along the route in case you or your kids get the munchies. I had a hot chocolate and Chan had some cotton candy on a glow stick. Could she be any more of a kid?? The walk through ends with a spectacular light display in Descanso’s iconic Japanese Garden called “Garden of Good Fortune”, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Bold, red lanterns hang from the old trees and it’s very romantic.
I have lived in LA for 11 years and have never seen anything like this. To be fair, we were there on a preview night and there weren’t very many people around so we could touch everything and try everything without fighting crowds. But I feel like even if there are a lot of people, this would still be a must-see destination. I told my husband, Chan and I loved it so much we may have to make this a new holiday tradition.
I do want to say though, don’t go expecting to see your standard lighted Christmas trees, or caroling bushes. This is more of a colorful art and sound installation that really could be enjoyed throughout the year.
Enchanted: Forest of Light opens to the public on Friday Nov. 25th and runs from 5pm to 10pm. It will be open daily until Jan. 8th (except Christmas Even & Christmas Day)
Tickets are $28 (general); $24 (seniors 65 and older and children 3 to 17); children 2 and younger enter free. Parking is free. There are also a few places to eat if you decide to get dinner and make a night of it.