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State Botanical Garden at UGA debuts redesigned Winter WonderLights

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia at the University of Georgia opened the third season of Winter WonderLights on Nov. 22, unveiling the show’s new design.

Winter WonderLights, presented by the UGA Office of the President, was reimagined this year with new and exciting light displays. Visitors to the show travel through a Winter Wondercave, along Jingle Bell Lane, into the Northern Lights and through a Frosted Forest, among other dazzling features.

Over 8,700 guests attended the show on opening weekend, which included the night before Thanksgiving.

Toshia Dunbrack from Elberton attended the show for the first time this year, bringing along her sister, sister-in-law and niece, who enjoyed dinner in Athens before the show.

Dunbrack said they wanted to enjoy the show before they get too busy in December. Her favorite part of the show was the Cone Tree Forest, but her group also enjoyed the Snowy Night section, with all the snowflakes hanging in the trees.

“Everyone ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhed’ over the snowflakes in the trees,” she said.

Visitors stroll through the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden, which has been reimagined this year as Jingle Bell Lane.

Winter WonderLights will run on select evenings through Dec. 30. The Alice Hand Callaway Visitor’s Center has been transformed into a holiday market, where guests can shop for gifts and souvenirs, including a chocolate Winter WonderBar created especially for the light show by Condor Chocolates in Athens. S’mores, Condor hot chocolate and beverages are available for purchase throughout the light show.

Tickets are $15 per person and free for children 3 and under. Friends of the Garden members will receive a 10% discount, as will groups of 20 or more people. Tickets must be purchased online.

The Athens Banner-Herald named Winter WonderLights the best local event in Athens in its Community’s Choice Awards the past two years. The show attracted over 56,000 visitors last year.

Winter WonderLights is made possible by volunteers who donate their time to ensure visitors have a great experience. One of these volunteers, Mark Allen, has volunteered at Winter WonderLights since the show began in 2021.

“I think it’s such a magical time,” said Allen. “Everyone’s happy and smiling and pleasant; there’s an uplifting spirit to the whole event. The best is seeing the faces of the children who are enjoying it.”

Winter WonderLights volunteer Mark Allen takes a photo of a couple visiting the show on opening night.

The show’s presenting sponsor is the University of Georgia Office of the President. Title sponsorship is provided by Athens Ford and Barron’s Rental Center. Premium sponsorship is provided by Georgia Power. Other sponsors include Piedmont Athens Regional, The Frierson Parker Group – Merrill Lynch and valued members of the local community.

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is located approximately 70 miles east of Atlanta, at 2450 S. Milledge Ave., Athens, Georgia. Free off-site parking and shuttle services will be provided in a UGA-owned and controlled lot off South Milledge Avenue. Paid parking at the garden is available for a limited number of vehicles and must be purchased when you buy tickets to the show. Ticket sales support the conservation and outreach work of the garden.

The garden will also offer a special event for the new year, WonderLights Disco Nights, on Jan. 4-7, 2024. Disco Nights will allow visitors to experience the light show while grooving to disco hits. Ticket prices and entry times will be the same as Winter WonderLights, and tickets are on sale now.

For more information about Winter WonderLights and to purchase tickets, visit

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Laurel Clark
State Botanical Garden of Georgia
© University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602