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Winter WonderLights at UGA’s State Botanical Garden sets record attendance in third year

For the third straight year, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia at the University of Georgia transformed into a sparkling wonderland of lights for winter, welcoming over 63,600 visitors.

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

The show was held on select evenings from Nov. 22 through Dec. 30, and 18 nights sold out. The garden also introduced a special event for the new year, WonderLights Disco Nights, on Jan. 4-7. Disco Nights visitors experienced the light show while grooving to disco hits.

Winter WonderLights, presented by the UGA Office of the President, was reimagined in its third year with new and exciting light displays, including Jingle Bell Lane. (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski)

Disco Nights caught the eye of Claire Diana, a local photographer in Athens when she went online to purchase tickets for Winter WonderLights, which she had attended the first two years it was open.

“I saw the Disco Nights tab and thought that’s something different; it might be fun to hear some different music and dance,” said Diana. “Disco Nights is a festive, fun, family-friendly activity that extends the holiday magic into January in the most retro way.”

“I love that the light show is for everyone. People will mention Winter WonderLights in the middle of the year as something they’re excited to do this winter. It’s something to look forward to that’s unique to Athens.”

Visitors to the show this year represented 143 counties in Georgia and 44 states. Ticket sales from the show support the conservation and outreach work of the garden.

Ticket sales from Winter WonderLights support the conservation and outreach work of the garden. (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski)

“Winter WonderLights allows us to showcase how beautiful the State Botanical Garden is in winter and generate support for our impactful programs,” said Jenny Cruse-Sanders, State Botanical Garden director. “We are so delighted that Winter WonderLights has become a seasonal tradition for the Athens community and beyond.”  

Winter WonderLights was selected as the best local event in the Athens Banner-Herald’s Community Choice Awards for the past two years. The show wouldn’t be possible without the support of 337 volunteers who donated 2,410 hours to help make the show magical for all visitors.

The show was presented by the University of Georgia Office of the President. Premium sponsorship was provided by Georgia Power, and title sponsors included Athens Ford and Barron’s Rental Center. Other sponsors include Piedmont Athens Regional, Merrill – A Bank of America Company—The Frierson/Parker Group and valued members of the local community.

About the State Botanical Garden of Georgia:

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach, is one of the state’s most treasured resources. With 323 acres of natural areas and cultivated gardens, the State Botanical Garden offers unique experiences for nature lovers. The garden offers eight specialty gardens, including the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden, and over five miles of trails within an Audubon-designated important birding area. Throughout the year, the garden hosts educational programming, including camps, classes, workshops, concerts and festivals for visitors of all ages. Facilities across the garden feature art exhibits and annual lectures, including the Porcelain and Decorative Arts Museum.

The garden is also the headquarters for the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance, a network of more than 50 institutions, agencies and organizations committed to ecological land management, native plant conservation, and protection of rare and endangered plants.

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