A greeting of a familiar nostalgic feeling of holiday cheer and the sound of joyful music meets you at the beginning of the magnificent lights of Garden Glow. As you continue down the lit path you may see a child’s eyes light up at the larger-than-life Candy Land display or a couple taking in a special moment together.
200,000 twinkling holiday lights. A contagious joyful energy coursing through the chilly winter air. Garden Glow at McCrory gardens leaves visitors with memories to last a lifetime.
The inception of the winter wonderland in 2015 was 11 trees donated by a local farm and 51 guests attending over the one-week long event. Garden Glow has now evolved into a month-long celebration drawing in repeat visitors from all over the Midwest. Attendance has doubled every year totaling over 11,000 people in 2020.
“Every year there is something new glowing on, but there are also the traditional pieces that people look forward to every year,” says Lisa Marotz, Director of McCrory Gardens.
The impression that the show leaves on all who visit is carried throughout the remainder of the holiday season. “It has become a tradition not just for the community. We do market and advertise but nothing compared to the story that others have told,” said Marotz.
This year Garden Glow gained a unique addition to the garden crew. Chris Hussak, known warmly as Christmas Chris, and his wife attended Garden Glow in 2020 after moving to Brookings from Lisbon, New York. Having a background in holiday light shows, Chris knew he wanted to bring some of his own magic to McCrory.
The ‘Holiday Hill’ is home to Chris’s enchanting show with some of his own equipment all the way from the East Coast.
The lights are not the only festive activity that McCrory has to offer. December 11th and December 18th head over to the gardens to partake in your very own ‘Hallmark movie moment’ on a horse drawn trolly ride through the arboretum. Tickets will be available to purchase in the visitor center the day of the event.
Garden Glow opens December 2nd and runs through January 6th from 5pm-8:30pm, excluding 12/24, 12/25, and 1/1. Members of the garden, SDSU students, and children under 5 receive free admission, general admission is $5 per ticket. Tickets are sold in advance at sdstate.com/mccrory-gardens.
About the board member
Lisa Marotz, Director of McCrory Gardens, has been a member on the Visit Brookings Board of Directors since January 2020 and continues to serve the Brookings tourism industry with her endless commitment and passion for the community.