Christmas just isn’t Christmas until the lights come out. We don’t know about you, but there’s nothing we love more this time of year than sipping eggnog while enjoying a holiday extravaganza.
Arguably the best light show along the Gulf Coast is “Magic Christmas in Lights” at Bellingrath Gardens and Home in Theodore, Alabama – just a short drive from your beachfront hotel.
This beloved annual attraction began nearly two decades ago, when the Bellingrath staff embraced the opportunity to showcase the beauty of the Gardens during the holiday season. Marketing and Special Events Consultant Emily King says the staff, who create such imaginative floral displays throughout the year, use the same talents to design the lighted set pieces that illuminate the Gardens each winter.
As one of his first official orders of business, Executive Director Dr. Bill Barrick recruited former Disney Imagineer Clare Graham to redesign the Bellingrath show in 1999. The maintenance team transformed Graham’s sketches into life-size sets by welding steel frames, and the “Magic Christmas” crew adorned them with twinkling lights. Over the years, the talented troupe has created more than 1,300 pieces in 14 distinctive scenes. According to King, a few new scenes are added each year.
“The Gardens lend themselves so well to these Christmas scenes, and guests really enjoy the opportunity to walk through to experience both the festive light scenes and the Gardens themselves,” King says.
Her favorite part about Bellingrath this season and year-round is watching everyone’s hard work pay off. Throughout the year, the staff works to grow the healthiest plants, design the most beautiful landscapes and keep the grounds in impeccable shape. Then, to prepare for “Magic Christmas,” they work for months on end hanging lights, replacing bulbs, and welding sets.
“To have so many visitors who have made ‘Magic Christmas’ a part of their holiday tradition means a lot to Bellingrath, and we really appreciate the community support,” says King.
In addition to thousands of dazzling lights, the Bellingrath event features performances by local high school and church bands.
You can have your picture made with Santa Claus during his weekend visits, or stop by the on-site Magnolia Café for a delicious lunch or dinner. And if you still have some names on your ‘NICE’ list, King speaks from personal experience when she tells us you’ll find unique presents in the Gift Shop.
No matter the season, don’t visit the Gulf Coast without visiting Bellingrath. The Gardens are regularly recognized for their incredible floral displays, and “Magic Christmas in Lights” has been nationally ranked as one of the best light shows in the country.
“We are so happy to be able to keep the Bellingrath tradition alive and be a part of an institution that embodies what is so beautiful about southern hospitality and art,” King shares. “The Gardens are works of art that change every day, and the preservation of the Home is an incredible undertaking that keeps in mind all that Mrs. Bellingrath valued in antiques.”
Take the time to make the drive across the Bay, because Bellingrath Gardens and Home is sure to delight.
Bellingrath Gardens is located at 12401 Bellingrath Gardens Rd, Theodore, AL 36582. For more information and to look at an event calendar, visit the Bellingrath Gardens website or call (251) 973-2217.