For the past 14 years, Brookgreen Gardens has produced "Nights of a Thousand Candles." For those of you that have been living under a rock somewhere and don't know - Brookgreen Gardens, located in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, is a 501©(3) non-profit, whose mission over the last 84 years has been to display figurative sculptures by American artists and to preserve regional plants, animals, and history. Brookgreen Gardens is certainly beautiful and worth visiting during the day in each of the spring, summer, and fall months.. but it becomes truly "magical" and "enchanting" for just nine nights in December!
Now I must shamefully admit that I had never attended "Nights of a Thousand Candles" before. Well, part of my excuse is that before moving to Murrells Inlet a few months ago, I was living almost four hours away in Greensboro, NC. This year, no excuse... I was going! I was graciously given media passes by Helen Benso, Brookgreen Garden's Vice-President for Marketing. I attended last Friday December 5th - their second day of the event.
On my short nine minute drive to Brookgreen Gardens, I was wondering what possibly could all the hype be about... throw-up a few strings of lights, pay a few singers to stroll around singing Christmas carols and call it an event... charge $18 and make some money... Wow, my thoughts have never been so wrong!
"Nights of a Thousand Candles" is not just an event. Let's maybe call it an extravaganza! No, wait.. that doesn't even do it... How about an enchanting evening in a lighted forest - surrounded by awe-striking sculptures, tranquil ponds, candle-lit paths, with the best in music and food! Well hell, that doesn't even do it either! However it could be described in writing would never do it justice anyway! You just have to experience it for yourself! And guys who are reading this... let me tell you a little secret.. you can owe me one... take your woman out to this event and you will earn big time brownie points! Seriously, you aren't going to be sleeping on the couch anytime soon! "Nights of a Thousand Candles" is probably "The Best" romantic holiday date-night you could ever take her to!
Candles... well sure, there are probably a thousand candles around the place.. about five times that amount actually... and they are nice... really nice... but the real view is the tiny little lights... probably millions of them... sparkly lights... christmas lights... mesmerizing lights... white lights... red lights... blue lights... green lights... romantic lights... gets-you-in-the-mood lights... any mood lights... seeing the lights reflect on the water in the many ponds... seeing the lights reflect in people's eyes... It is a life changing moment in time!
So here is the deal. No matter if you are single, in a relationship, are married, or have a family of 12... no matter if you are four hours away or nine minutes away... you must visit "Nights of a Thousand Candles!" For those of you out of town, you can actually find travel agents and resorts around the area that feature packages including lodging and tickets! And the news gets even better: no high summertime accommodation prices this time of year at the beach!
A few helpful tidbits..
1) Arrive early! They open at 3pm and I would say get there around 4. It will take you about 10 minutes to drive through the property, pay for your tickets, park, and walk to the main entrance. You will also be able to experience the hour of sunset and see the lights come alive! Want it less crowded? Go on a Thursday night and avoid the weekend crowds!
2) Wear your comfortable shoes and dress appropriately! Walking/tennis shoes are a must and dress somewhat "formal casual." Gentleman! It's
basically winter time.. wear a nice sweater and a sport coat.. you can always take your coat off if you get a little warm and that way you will be able to put it over your woman's shoulders in case she gets a little chilly! High-Five! Ok, now you can owe me two times.
3) Please don't yell at me here but I think it would be best to keep your babies and young kids at home. Strollers are hard to use/navigate through many of the pathways and there are thousands of people at the event that want a nice quiet evening without crying/screaming babies and small toddlers running around wild. However, I do think this is a wonderful place to take your older children! Make new holiday memories with them! They will certainly get in the spirit and be amazed with all of the lights! A great place to take a few snapshots of them around the lights! And, maybe one day when they are all grown up they will take their date, their spouse, and/or maybe even their kids! Generations of a family holiday tradition!
4) For those that have trouble seeing/walking at night, you might want to take advantage of some of the wheelchairs that Brookgreen Gardens has available and make sure you bring someone with you. Even though a good majority of the pathways are lit with luminaries, there really isn't much light and many of the walkways are in their original state.
5) Plan to stay the entire evening! Arrive at 4pm and stay until 9pm! Grab a drink when you arrive.. walk around for an hour then grab another drink and walk around another hour then eat dinner from the main food tent (catered this year by Inlet Affairs/Drunken Jacks) or in the sculpture gardens "Old Kitchen." Then walk around for another hour or so to burn off the calories! Lol!
6) Take a few pictures... but only a few! This place is big and beautiful and everywhere you turn and look you will want to snap pictures! Don't get wrapped up in worrying about getting great photos! You will find tons of them online to view later. My advice, find a bench or somewhere to sit down every once in a while and just soak it all in with your eyes and your remaining senses! The sights... the sounds... the smell of the crisp December air... enjoy and embrace it!
How about some fun facts of "Nights of a Thousand Candles" - There are over 3.5 miles of extention cords! There are over 5,000 candles lit each night from around 40 volunteers! It takes a combination of 150 staff and volunteers to create and run this special event each night! There are only 6 more days for you to experience "Nights of a Thousand Candles" in 2014 so please don't miss it! We promise you won't be disappointed! It's coming up again on December 11th-13th and then the 18th-20th.
Want to learn more about Brookgreen Gardens or purchase tickets? Just visit their website at http://www.Brookgreen.org
View All Of Our Photos From Our Visit To "Nights Of A Thousand Candles"
About Joey O'Connor:
Joey O'Connor is an author, writer, and the current editor of http://www.OnTheGrandStrand.com - He is also the founder and publisher of many
online publications (including the 50,000+ pages http://www.GolfClubBusiness.com) as well as the owner of over 50 additional websites and networks. Joey is also a registered musician with BMI and has been a professional in the golf industry for over 20 years. After 46 years of living in Greensboro, North Carolina (where he was born and raised) Joey is currently residing in Murrells Inlet, SC. Complete information on Joey can be found by visiting his website http://www.JoeyOConnor.com