GardenFest 2014: A Legacy in Lights

GardenFest kicks off tonight, but get a sneak peek right here!

Tonight’s the night! Join your fellow food-baby-sporting Richmonders this evening at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden for the grand illumination of one of the city’s most beloved (and anticipated) holiday events: Dominion GardenFest of Lights.


This year marks the Garden’s 30th birthday, and the folks at Ginter want to celebrate by taking us on a tour through time–by bicycle, no less! Back in 1895, Mr. Lewis Ginter founded the Lakeside Wheel Club (out of the historic Bloemendaal House, which is still a key attraction at the Garden) to give his fellow cycling-enthusiasts a resort-like setting in which to ride their bikes.

This year’s GardenFest–officially called “A Legacy in Lights: 120 Years from Bicycle Club to Botanical Garden”–pays tribute to that history (and looks forward to Richmond playing host to the 2015 UCI Road World Cycling Championships) with bikes galore. They’re on display in the Conservatory! They’re lit up and lining the Garden’s pathways! They’re even hanging from that beautiful ginkgo tree out by the Bloemendaal House! You also don’t want to miss (although I’m not sure how you could) local artist John Meola’s pyramid-shaped sculpture made of recycled bike parts and topped with a pedal-powered plane.



Once you’ve strolled around the garden to see the lights–including a trip through the Children’s Maze (now located in the Anderson Meadow) and a stop at the bonfire for hot chocolate and s’mores–head into the Conservatory and feast your eyes (no touching!) on the 20-foot tree and the North Wing train display showcasing crazily-detailed models of Richmond landmarks hand-crafted out of botanicals by the Garden’s horticulturists, volunteers, and other staff.


In the Education Center you’ll find the interactive (yes touching!) train display, while the library showcases dollhouses, images chronicling more of the Garden’s history, and yet another jaw-dropping tree–this one covered in Victorian bits and baubles. And be sure to take a walk through the arbor located right by the Education Center’s doors; it’s now filled with bike horns and bells just waiting for visitors to create a delightful holiday ruckus.

GardenFest of Lights officially kicks off tonight at 5:00 PM with a Grand Illumination celebration featuring a show from stunt rider Mike Steidley,visits from Energy Cycle that involves lots of bikes and a unicorn–that’s all I’m going to say because I don’t want to ruin things for you.

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GardenFest is open nightly (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) from 5:00 – 10:00 PM through January 12th. Tickets are $12 for adults; $11 for seniors; $8 for kids ages 3 to 12; $7 for adult members; and $5 for children members. Members get in free on December 1st through 3rd and January 12th. For more information, visit

Photo by: Sarah Hauser, Virginia Tourism Corporation

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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