how the wildflowers glow
Austin's Wildflower Center goes elemental for immersive holiday light walk
Most cities will not spend the holidays frolicking through wildflowers — actually, even for Austin that's a bit of a stretch. But the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has applied its conservationist and gardening sensibilities to another seasonal walk through nature this winter.
Luminations, a nearly two-mile stroll through the arboretum, has returned in an entirely new form, with all new light installations to bring some immersive magic to the darker nights.
Unlike most of the other light-led destinations this holiday season, this one doesn't rest on specific holiday themes, opting instead for more abstract explorations. This year's theme is the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. One installation illuminates falling water in interesting patterns, while others create larger-than life fluttering wings and faux bioluminescent plants.
Although the seasonal installations are new, visitors will likely recognize the oversized tire swing-like chairs that have been featured in many a nighttime selfie at other installations. (In fact, it looks like you can buy these popular LED seats online, but may just want to visit the Wildflower Center to save $500 and avoid a drop shipping nightmare.)
Other photos show a lantern-lit path that calls to mind the Mexican and Southwestern luminaria tradition, which highlights the unique masonry around the "Great Hall."
Although it is open to all ages, this glowing stroll will be one of the more adult activations thanks to the abstraction. A release touts "a rotating cast of local food trucks" including Craig-O’s, Asian Express and Ike-N-Aves. There will also be hot chocolate (that can be spiked) and a full bar with specialty cocktails.
Luminations opened November 24, 2023, and will run through January 6, 2024, with some blackout dates around Christmas and New Year's Eve. Tickets ($28 for adults, $18 for youth, plus member discounts) are available at wildflower.org.