Immersive Illuminations

Lightscape returns to LA Arboretum through January 8

By Kamala Kirk

Returning to the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Lightscape is bigger, bolder and brighter. 

“Lightscape celebrates and highlights the Arboretum’s extensive gardens and landscapes with dazzling displays of color, light and sound,” says Richard Schulof, Los Angeles Arboretum director. 

Through January 8, Lightscape offers 18 experiences along a 1-mile trail through the 127-acre landscape. 

“Except for the popular Winter Cathedral, all this year’s installations are new, with many making their U.S. premiere at our show. The Winter Cathedral is a tunnel of twinkling holiday lights, ideal for family photos. Thousands of glowing lights give the experience of moving through a cloud of stars. And last year, the Winter Cathedral hosted multiple wedding proposals.”

Three installations that are making their U.S. debut this year are Will-o’-the-Wisps, Whole Hole and the Laser Garden. Will-o’-the-Wisps is a legion of mystifying, glowing entities that haunt the night with a soft flicker, glowing discreetly and never revealing their true form. 

Whole Hole is a wild-growing and futuristic structure that transports those who enter a wormhole, moving them faster than the speed of light with hundreds of LED strips that help spectators travel through time and space, beginning and ending with a movement toward light.

The Laser Garden is an ever-evolving experience that basks the audience in a blanket of endless green laser beams. A seemingly impenetrable web of light is broken apart by illusive shapes in the dark, illuminating trees and the ground in ways never before seen.

 “My personal favorite is the Venus Fountain. Simply spectacular, kaleidoscope colors and images are projected across towering, geyser-like streams of water shot from water cannons, creating a 100-foot-wide liquid screen of dancing lights above the 3-acre Baldwin Lake. In the Arboretum’s tropical forest — one of my favorite places — the Laser Garden combines brilliantly colored laser lights and fog with botanical beauty of the forest, illuminating the diversity of plant forms and textures.”

According to Schulof, the walk through Lightscape takes around 90 minutes or longer to complete, depending on how many times one stops for photos or for hot chocolate, a drink or food.

“Just beyond the Winter Cathedral are fire pits where visitors can make their own s’mores,” Schulof says. “Kits, available for purchase, include a giant marshmallow, graham crackers, chocolate and a stick to create the gooey snack. Children and adults love the s’mores.”

The L.A. Arboretum produces Lightscape in association with Sony Music. Additionally, Lightscape is creatively produced by Culture Creative.

Schulof adds, “Lightscape is created by an international team of artists and designers who have created a show specific to the L.A. Arboretum, unlike any other. All proceeds from Lightscape go directly to improve the Arboretum, with past shows funding new gardens, repairs to the Queen Anne Cottage, and improvements for visitors.”

Lightscape

WHEN: Through January 8

WHERE: Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, 301 N. Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia 

COST: $15 adults, $11 students and seniors, $5 children 5 to 12, free for children 4 and under

INFO: arboretum.org/lightscape

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