At Bellevue Botanical Garden, a half-million lights delight

The well-lit habitat attracts all kinds of creatures.

Amidst the bright butterflies, tropical fish, and peacock lurks the dragon. The radiant green beast with glaring eyes and a hissing tongue has caused thousands of people to pause along the trail of the Bellevue Botanical Garden during the annual Garden d’Lights.

“Everyone loves the dragon,” says communications manager Darcy McInnis of the attraction that brings a parade of visitors to the holiday display that has taken over the Garden every winter for the past 22 years.

There is more to see than the dragon, though. From Nov. 25 through Dec. 31, Garden d’Lights visitors will be treated to a dazzling ecosystem of whimsical creatures—a blue heron, the spider and the web, a golden swan on a radiant blue pond, an owl, and dragonflies. Holiday music will fill the air as they pass by sparkling sunflowers, daffodils, lilies, delphiniums, a poinsettia tree, and a grape arbor.

“Flowers you would find in your own yard or garden,” says Candice McIvor, one of the society’s longtime volunteers who co-leads the Garden d’Lights program with volunteer Cleo Raulerson.

Even those who have seen it before are likely to find something surprising: new elements this year include an expanded butterfly garden and entertainment options. McInnis has already booked several local groups, including Northwest Sound, the Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra Holiday Flute Tour, the Youth Opera Project from the Seattle Opera, Sammamish Symphony Youth Chamber, and a couple of ukulele groups.

While the lights will eventually go out, the event, which is produced by Bellevue Botanical Garden Society in partnership with Bellevue Parks and Community Services, is a year-round effort that employs more than 100 volunteers.

“For a lot of people, it’s part of their holiday tradition,” McInnis says. 12001 Main St., Bellevue

More information Open nightly, 4:30–9 p.m., lights go out at 9:30 p.m. $5 admission, children 10 and under free. Advance tickets available online at gardendlights.org. Event proceeds will support the Society’s children and adult education programs, and improvements to the Bellevue Botanical Garden. No tickets required on Nov. 27–30 and Dec. 4–7. On-site parking $5 per vehicle (cash only), free with disabled parking permit. Free parking at Wilburton Hill Park.

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