Long-time readers already know about my undying love for Franklin Park Conservatory – but this year, their annual holiday lights display took that love to a whole new level.
Let’s face it, Central Ohio’s holiday lights are bangin’ this time of year. We have some incredible light displays, from drive-through events like Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights to walk-through, neon wonderlands like the holiday lights at Columbus Commons and the Grand Illuminations along the Scioto Mile. We love them all.
Last night, we got to attend the member preview of Franklin Park Conservatory’s new Conservatory Aglow holiday lights extravaganza and our whole family agrees: FPC knocked it out of the park this year.
And when have we ever needed a safe, socially-distanced, magical outdoor walk more in our lives than in 2020?!
I should start out by saying that my COVID anxiety is at an all-time high. Both Z and I were so anxious all day yesterday that E and I made the call to keep her home for the remaining school days this month. It just feels like things are spiraling fast with the rise in cases, and I don’t want to take any chances. I’ll happily home school her and we can begin our winter hibernation a bit early.
That said, we had tickets for the Franklin Park Conservatory member preview and I really wanted to go. I told myself it would be safe; we would stick to the outside areas, wear masks and avoid clusters of people.
I needn’t have worried – there were no crowds. Tickets are timed so that only a few enter at a time and there’s so much to see, both inside and out, that it is easy to distance as you work your way through. We had most of the place to ourselves except for a few families ahead of us and a few families behind us – there was never any fear of crowding or interaction.
Wearing a mask the whole time was a minor bummer for me because I had my glasses on, so the combination of cold air + warm mask made my glasses foggy the entire night! I’ve got to figure out a solution for that or wear only contacts until COVID is over. (Any tips, let me know?!)
The entire outside area of the Conservatory was lit up in millions of tiny, colorful lights. They are so creative with the colorful displays – I love seeing what they do each year. This is not just strings of lights thrown over trees! FPC’s artistry with holiday lights is simply gorgeous.
In the incredible Children’s Garden, there are places to climb and play, all lit with festive and colorful lights. Red and white glowing flamingoes have taken over the waterfall and stream area, while the treehouse is bedecked with Mardi Gras shades of bright pink and purple.
There’s even a Candyland-style gingerbread house and ice cream sundae path all leading to the incredible Paul Busse Garden Railway. And don’t get me started on the incredible rainbow tunnel. I could happily live in that tunnel for the rest of my life!
Photos don’t do any of it justice. There’s nothing like walking through these lit-up gardens on a chilly night with the moon and majestic clouds overhead – it did my soul good. As we drove home, I noticed that all signs of stress, fear and anxiety had left my body. I think it did Z a world of good too because she laughed, danced, ran, climbed and acted like a kid again – it did my heart good to see her so happy.
Bundle up with hats and scarves and gloves – and don’t forget your masks – and head to Franklin Park Conservatory for Conservatory Aglow from now through January 10, starting at 5 pm and going until 9. Admission is pricey, whether or not you’re a member, but it’s well worth it for a fabulous, festive and safe night out with the family – or with that special someone.
If you go to Conservatory Aglow, I’d love to hear your favorite part. We didn’t even look through the inside buildings, so I know we missed a lot! You’ll have to tell me all about it if you go.