Enchanted Forest of Lights

By: Jeffery Robertson, Sr. Editor of Visit SoCal

Posted on Location: , 5 min read

October through December is such an awesome time for the So Cal adventurist who really loves to get into the spirit of the holidays. There are so many beautiful places to visit and amazing events that it can easily get overwhelming on what to choose or where to go. Don’t worry, let us be your guide for finding the must stop spots in Southern California that are both good for a date night or for the whole family! 

If you read our last issue of TCOS you got all of our tips for visiting Oak Glen. If you haven’t checked out the October issues yet, go pick it up to get the rundown on our favorite places to visit up at the apple picking hotspot of So Cal. 

There’s one special event we look forward to all year and it takes place near Pasadena at Descanso Gardens. If you are a Pasadena local then you know exactly what I’m talking about but for most they have no idea of this hidden treasure of an event.  From November 17 through January 5 they turn the gardens into an enchanted light show that is jaw dropping and just straight magical. 

They call it the Enchanted Forest of Lights. This is one of the most incredible displays and use of lights we’ve ever seen. No matter how much I try to describe just how amazing this place is, nothing will come close to actually being there in person and seeing with your own eyes. However until you are able to go, I’m going to walk you through the forest to paint the picture.

As soon as you arrive at the front gate you will see a couple of gift shops on your right. They have some really cool and unique items to pick up so give it a quick walk through before you enter the grounds.  We got a delicious Hot Coco and special flavored candy canes that totally hit the spot as we started walking into the park. When you enter into the front gate you immediately get a scene of the scale that is in front of you. After only a few steps into the garden you can already appreciate the amount of detail that’s gone into this event. The entire walk is approximately 1 mile however it doesn’t seem long at all because all the cool discovery’s you make around every corner, each one better than the last.

There is a path to walk on and it takes you from one decoration to the next.  We started to jump around because the kids would see something cool and take off towards it like the ice cream man just showed up!  Our first interactive exhibit was like a giant lighted hopscotch course. It was crazy fun for all of us! Every time you stepped on a square it would light up with a color changing theme, we had no idea what color was next so we just kept stepping. I think we were running on that course for 25 minutes or until we just got exhausted. We had so much fun and we quickly found out that most of the displays are totally interactive with colors and sounds you can control.

Moving through the gardens we came across a lighted tunnel of stars. This is where you should take out your camera for some amazing photos.  At night time, getting good pictures can be difficult but the star tunnel is a photo-op must.  The tunnel has huge hanging stars that light up the pathway and all the surrounding plants. The pathway leads to yet another incredible interactive decoration. We called it the spinning lanterns. They were what seemed to be giant hanging lanterns with some incredible designed patterns on them.  We could spin them around, causing these unimaginable light reflections on the ground below them.  It’s truly one of a kind and completely memorizing.

Around the next bend we saw something that just made our jaws drop!  The closer we got to the display we could really appreciate the amount of detail they put into this one.  I believe they called it the flower fields of lights. It’s thousands of colorful lights that actually look like it a field of color changing flowers. It’s simply incredible. I think we just sat and watched this part for 15 minutes, seeing if we could guess what color will come up next! To watch this spectacle in person is just unreal and I highly recommend having a seat to hang out here for a bit.  

Our final stretch of the tour was probably the most grand in size, strolling through a glowing forest unlike anything we’ve ever seen. The forest walk was something straight out of a movie, bringing the plants alive with incredible lights spanning from the ground to the top of the trees. Not only were the trees all lit up with like something out of Avatar the movie but they had ground smoke and a laser show going on through the bushes. It was truly awesome to see.  We could have spent an hour just in this part of the walk. The grand scale of the forest is something that’s hard to put into words but once you are standing there in person it’s an unforgettable moment.    

The Enchanted Forest of Lights at Descanso Garden is just outside Pasadena and offers an extraordinary nighttime experience that’s totally interactive. I suggest getting tickets early because I believe it sells out during the holidays. This is easily one of our top pics for this time of year. We have been going there for years and the family absolutely loves it every time. It’s a rain or shine event so watch the weather closely, last year it actually rained on us but was still incredible. In fact the rain made it even more authentic to be part of such a cool environment.

I hope you like our second addition to TCOS and hope you join us on our next journey through beautiful Southern California. From my family to yours, thank you!

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