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luminaria4Last night I attended ‘Luminaria‘ at the Devonian Botanical Garden. I had been meaning to take in this special event for years but somehow had always been busy on this particular weekend and missed it. This year I decided to book my tickets in advance so as not to let that happen again! I am so glad that I did as this was a very special holiday event that will now become a personal tradition.

luminariaLuminaria is held in the Japanese garden. If you have ever visited this particular area of the garden in spring, summer or fall, you will appreciate the peaceful winding paths, the gentle hills, the rocky waterfall, and the shelters and mini temples along the way. Now imagine all of this in the dark, covered in a thick blanket of snow and lit up by hundreds of flickering candles…

luminariaImagine barrels of crackling bon fires here and there on the paths where people can gather around to warm up… complimentary hot apple cider… ice sculptures…. and two small groups of live carolers to fill the night with song.

luminaria2There was a great turn out of people of all ages. It was quite exciting to share the evening with so many other visitors, yet the garden is big enough that it never felt crowded. I also appreciated how organized the event was, from the park-and-ride in Devon (which we took advantage of and did not have to wait any time at all for), to the many easily identifiable volunteers who directed the visitors, took the tickets and served the cider. There was also a first aid station, a special table where one could buy a candle for a special loved one and a craft sale on the way out in another building. With my two admission tickets I received a complimentary ‘free admission for two’ ticket for the Devonian Botanical Garden the upcoming season.

luminariaThe most enjoyable part of this evening was its simplicity. Instead of garish electric Christmas lights flashing, inflatable Santa’s swaying and endless advertisements to keep one shopping for that perfect gift there was just the gentle flickering of candlelight outdoors on a dark winter’s night in a beautiful natural garden. The only sounds were the cheerful songs of the carolers and the hushed voices of friends and families sharing in this special time. In my mind, this is what the holiday season is about… unplugging, quiet time for reflection and contemplation, and opportunities for reconnecting with the natural world. It was truly a magical evening.