Night Bright: 5 Spectacular Illumination Events

Experience visual artistry at night this October.


You can always expect to see creative and dazzling light displays during the Halloween and Christmas seasons but there are other major illumination events that are ideal for family night viewing every autumn and they offer some highly innovative approaches to lighting.

A larger-than-life LED installation from the exhibition China Lights: Boerner Brighter Than Ever

Boerner Botanical Gardens,

These run the gamut from top tourist destinations like Niagara Falls to botanical gardens to popular vacation getaways and resorts. Take, for instance, the Blackpool Illuminations, a tradition that dates back to 1879 when this English seaside resort first launched the event which has since become an annual festival. Covering a six mile area along the waterfront, the Blackpool Illuminations light up the night skies from mid-September to mid-November and it is a free event. Tourists come from all over the world to view these glowing, larger-than-life tableaux that feature a variety of themes and creative ideas. If you are traveling in the U.K. this fall, you owe it to yourself to experience the 2016 event.

A sculpture in lights homage to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

Jeff Stafford

During the 2015 season, you could see a series of scenes inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass which comprised more than a city block in terms of the size.

An Egyptian-themed tableaux at the Blackpool Illuminations

Jeff Stafford

Some of the Blackpool Illuminations pay homage to a specific culture like this Egyptian-style temple with an ornate and glowing sarcophagus.

A scene from the 2015 event Blackpool Illuminations in the U.K.

Jeff Stafford

Other light sculptures pay tribute to Blackpool itself such as the above recreation of the double-decker buses that serve the seaside resort.

The Blackpool Illuminations Trolley Ride

Jeff Stafford

If you don’t want to walk the entire six mile strip of lights, you can pay to ride on a decorated trolley which is a visual treat in itself and see the entire presentation from the comfort of your trolley seat.

Visitors can wander through a wonderland of colorful lights and vegetation by night with live musical accompaniment at this 2016 Longwood Gardens event.

Longwood Gardens,

Now celebrating its second year at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience combines visuals and music in a popular event that runs through Oct. 29.

A pathway through an illuminated enchanted forest by night

Longwood Gardens,

While an orchestra plays selections from Bach, Brahms and Debussy, visitors can wander through the garden and be dazzled by an array of awe-inspiring light installations created by the Klip Collective of Philadelphia.

A flower-like design in LED lighting at Longwood Gardens' Nightscape exhibition

Klip Collective,

Some of the popular sights include the spectacular Waterlily display, the Mediterranean Garden with its lush green and blue hues and the unique geometry of the Silver Garden.

Niagara Falls at night

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation,

One of the most popular tourist attractions in the U.S. as well as an iconic honeymoon destination, Niagara Falls is situated between New York State and the province of Ontario, Canada. The location hosts three magnificent waterfalls but they are even more spectacular at night when colored lights and fireworks illuminate nature’s creations. The illumination/fireworks presentations are offered year-round and the viewing times listed on the official website are approximate and subject to change according to light conditions.

A nighttime shot of the China Nights exhibition at Boerner Botanical Gardens

Boerner Botanical Gardens,

For the first time, Boerner Botanical Gardens in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is presenting an elaborate Chinese lantern festival entitled China Lights: Boerner Brighter Than Ever which runs through Oct. 30. More than 1,000 sculptural components created by 30-plus artists from China will culminate in a fantasyland of LED-lit creations including a three-foot baby panda, a three-story Chinese palace pagoda and other larger-than-life illuminated sculptures.

A sculpture in the exhibition Chihuly in the Garden

Atlanta Botanical Garden,

Art in the dark is the best way to describe a nighttime tour of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens’ Chihuly in the Garden exhibition. Running through Oct. 30, this is the sequel to artist Dale Chihuly’s blockbuster 2004 show but this time it is double the size with a total of 19 installations, all of them set against the surrounding fall landscape.

Artist Dale Chihuly's The Saffron Tower

Jason Getz, Atlanta Botanical Garden,

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