Seattle's Child

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Bellevue Botanical Garden presents Garden d’Lights

Make it a delightful evening celebrating the holidays

Hosted by the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society and in partnership with Bellevue Parks and Community Services, Garden d’Lights is a perfect holiday outing for all members of your family.

Twenty-nine years of bright lights

Over half a million lights make up the intricate light creations featured throughout the beautiful outdoor displays at Garden d’Lights. Around 130 volunteers donated more than 6,000 hours to make this event come alive, just in time for the holidays. Working nearly year-round, volunteer designers put together the incredible light creations the community enjoys while visiting Garden d’Lights.

In its 29th year of operation, the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society estimates that around 70,000 people will visit Garden d’Lights this holiday season. Maybe you and your family will be one of them!

Tickets, parking and a new shuttle service

The Bellevue Botanical Garden is located 20 minutes outside of Seattle. Tickets to the light show must be purchased in advance and parking is available on site for $5. You can also park at Wilburton Park, a few blocks away, for free.

Not driving into town? Take the BellHop, a new 100% electric and on-demand, free shuttle service. Download the app and request a shuttle service to your destination. Service areas vary, so be sure to check the map before reserving.

The garden paths are good for foot traffic, but bring your stroller or wagon, if needed. To ensure everyone has a great experience, it’s recommended that you bring only the essential equipment that will meet your needs, as the event can be quite busy. Bring snacks and hot chocolate or purchase from the vendor at the Shorts House. Restrooms are available by the entrance of the gardens.

Hunting for light displays

If you’ve ever been to the Bellevue Botanical Garden during the day, you know that this large museum displays meticulously cared-for plants, flowers, shrubs and trees of many varieties. At Garden d’Lights, families will find all kinds of brightly lit plants, animals, and other fun features throughout the garden, including dragonflies, a ladybug, a peacock, a rabbit, a frog, an owl, and jellyfish. Those who regularly attend this holiday light show will have to keep their eyes open for new features this year – a goose, a scarecrow, a tropical bird, and a squirrel.

Download the scavenger hunt map when you arrive at the event to help guide your visit and use it as a fun activity for the whole family. The scavenger hunt features over 30 items to locate as you wind your way through the garden path.

Evening festivities and engaging activities

Darcy McInnis, Communications Manager for the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society, notes that “older kids may want to test their knowledge of plants made of lights. Every plant is botanically correct, so it’s fun to try and figure out what each plant is.”

On some evenings, visitors can enjoy live music at the Aaron Education Center. Visitors can purchase a warm beverage or snack about halfway through the path every evening. See the website for more details about the entertainment schedule.

Our experience

We took our grandparents and four-year-olds to Garden d’Lights on the chilly Sunday after Thanksgiving. Despite having timed tickets, the event felt pretty crowded. McInnis says that Monday-Wednesday is less busy, and the week leading up to Christmas is the busiest. However, it wasn’t too crowded to enjoy. We saw all of the displays throughout the garden. With a bit of patience, we waited our turn to see a few of the more popular features and made sure that our little ones didn’t run ahead of us with excitement.

The kids trotted along the path, and we all found different plants and animals. We spent time pointing out different features to each other, taking photos, and enjoying the lights surrounding us.

It took us about 20-25 minutes to go through the well-marked path, and it was easy for our group’s younger and older legs.

We had a wonderful time at this event and thought it was the perfect amount of time for everyone in our group to be out and involved in something festive. I hope you consider a family outing to the Bellevue Botanical Garden d’Lights for a fun holiday experience this season!

Know before you go:

• Tickets must be purchased in advance. They are date and time-specific. Reserve your tickets here.
• The event runs through December 31. (It’s closed on Christmas Day). The first entry is at 4:30 pm every day, and the final entry time varies depending on the day.
• Children 10 and under are free. Tickets are $8/per person for 11-year-olds and older.
• Check out the $5/per-person nights, running Monday-Thursday the first two weeks of the event (Nov 27-30, and Dec 4-7).
• The route is ¾ of a mile so wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
• The estimated time it takes to see lights is 30-45 minutes.
• There is an on-site vendor selling beverages and snacks.
• Park in the Botanical Garden Lot for $5, or a ¼ mile away at Wilburton Hill Park for free.

Read more:

Your guide to holiday events

More lights to see for the holiday season

Parent review of Snowflake Lane

Find more things to do on Seattle’s Child Calendar

About the Author

Ellie White

Ellie had the privilege of growing up in our beautiful Pacific Northwest. She currently lives in the Green Lake neighborhood with her husband and twin toddlers.