Bundle up the little ones! Old Westbury Gardens on Long Island is welcoming visitors of all ages to enjoy its first-of-its kind holiday light show. Shimmering Solstice opens November 20 and runs through January 9. Tickets are on sale now. The light show is presented by Catholic Health.
Magical holiday lights twinkle along the Old Westbury Gardens paths, and festive sounds celebrate the season. Maura Brush, the director of horticulture at Old Westbury Gardens, advises NY-area parents of young kids and kids of all ages to put the Shimmering Solstice holiday light show at the top of their must-do list this holiday season.
“Your children are going to be immersed for 90 minutes, actively walking, getting fresh air, and using their imagination,” she says. “It’s not only visually appealing. I think it’s going to be good for the young creative mind.”
Bringing the Little Ones to the Holiday Light Show
The holiday light show is entirely outside. That means, when preparing to come to the show with kids, wear hats, good walking shoes, and mittens. “Little ones can enjoy themselves so much more when they’re comfortable,” says Brush, who is a mom of three kids ages 7, 11, and 13.
Because the Shimmering Solstice experience is meant to be engaging and interactive, toddlers will love exploring the paths by foot. For younger ones, Brush encourages baby carriers over strollers since there are elevation changes along the route.
A Bedtime-Friendly Holiday Event
It’s an evening show, but winter sunsets allow for timed tickets as early as 5:30. “Parents of little ones can feed an early dinner, enjoy the show, and still be home in time for bedtimes,” Brush explains.
Refreshments are available for visitors to enjoy as they walk along the trail. The menu, catered by Lessing’s Hospitality Group, includes things that can be eaten with one hand, from butternut squash soup and veggie chili to chicken sandwiches, holiday treats, and hot cocoa.
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Shimmering Solstice Highlights
Brush has wanted to have a light show at Old Westbury Gardens for the past ten years. It was about seven years ago when she and colleagues first starting meeting with possible design companies. They hired the Los Angeles-based and internationally-recognized company Lightswitch to build the light show. Lightswitch designers walked through the Gardens to get a sense of the space and to build something unique for the specific landscaping.
“The entire walk is engaging enough to hold the attention of even the youngest visitors,” shares Brush, “but I suspect that the shadow play areas and the labyrinth of lights will really be popular with the littles!” The interactive Simon game (with a twist) is expected to be a hot spot, too.
Other unique features include light displays twinkling in rhythmic patterns in the formal Rose Garden and Walled Garden. Oversized dandelions made of light line the edge of the pond. “It looks like their tops are blowing away in the breeze,” says Brush. A giant Christmas tree, made of lit globes, is on display in front of Westbury House.
“There is going to be a lot of stuff for the children to actually participate in,” Brush explains. Visitors control the light in the Walled Garden and Labyrinth of Light, where shadow lights allow people to see themselves projected as 15 feet tall on a giant oak tree. The special 10-minute finale is secret but one hint Brush offers is that it will follow Old Westbury Gardens through the four seasons.
What You Need to Know About Visiting Shimmering Solstice at Old Westbury Gardens
Where is Old Westbury Gardens located?
Old Westbury Gardens is located on Long Island at 71 Old Westbury Rd, Old Westbury, NY 11568.
When is the new exhibit, Shimmering Solstice, open?
- The exhibit opens Nov. 20 and runs through Jan. 9.
- Admission time starts at 5:30 pm and the last admission is at 9:30 pm. The gates close at 11 pm.
- There will be no showings on: November 22-25, 30; December 7, 14, 21, 24, 25, 28; January 4.
How much is admission to the Shimmering Solstice exhibit?
- Adult Peak $32.95, Child (3-17) Peak $17.95
- Adult Off-Peak $29.95, Child (3-17) Off-Peak $16.95
- Senior Monday $24.95. Not valid on December 27 (ages 62 and above)
- Off-peak dates are as follows: November 20, 21, 28, 29; December 1, 5, 6, 8, 12, 13, 15, 19, 20, 22; January 3, 5, 9.
- Any time/Any Day Experience $75
What are the Old Westbury Gardens current COVID guidelines?
- Following CDC and New York State guidelines, visitors who are fully vaccinated may visit outdoor areas of Old Westbury Gardens without face coverings.
- All guests over age 2 must wear face coverings in indoor areas (at this time inside Café in the Woods and the public restrooms by the parking area.
- Visitors who are not fully vaccinated must wear face coverings when social distancing is not feasible.
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