Holiday sparkle

Botanica Illuminations opens this month

Written by Amy Bird

Every year, Botanica transforms into a twinkling wonderland for the holidays, opening the day after Thanksgiving and running through New Year's Eve.

A local tradition, Botanica draws more than 60,000 people over the holiday season to see a million lights spread across 17 acres in 18 themed displays ranging from quiet sophistication to kitschy color and sound.

Kathy Sweeney, director of special events for Botanica, says that each year new additions and changes are made to the garden displays to keep the event current and exciting. In addition to redoing the light display in the Downing Children's Garden Meadow, Sweeney says Botanica has enhanced several crowd favorites. "We are going big on the chandelier tree, adding 30 more chandeliers," she says of an enchanting display that features a large tree adorned with chandeliers of all shapes and sizes.

Furthermore, this year the candy cane lane that leads to Santa's cottage will feature a new electric train village display and a projection of vintage holiday movies. For the delight of young and old, the "man in red" will be available every night throughout the season.

Eat, drink and be merry

Hot chocolate, cookies and popcorn will be available in the main lobby each evening, along with entertainment showcasing local music and choral groups. More than 60 groups are sched- uled throughout the season.

Two fire pits for s'mores will be available on the patio, in addition to a dinner menu at the Illuminations Cafe in the Botanica Pavilion. The cafe will offer a variety of items, including hamburgers, brats and chili along with other snacks and warm drinks. Cocktails will be available at the cafe Thursday through Saturday.

For those wanting to find unique holiday gifts and decorations, the Botanica shop will be open, and fresh floral arrangements will be available for purchase.

Sweeney says the Illuminations event is not only a beautiful and fun tradition, but the primary support of Botanica's mission to educate the public and generate enthusiasm and appreciation for horticulture.

"funds raised through Illuminations goes straight back to the gardens and is our largest fundraiser," she says, noting that it has a dual purpose of providing a unique event to the community while helping sustain the gardens.

"We are trying to make memories for our community by creating a holiday tradition and extra activities through our beautiful gardens," she says of the event. "It's an experience you can't get anywhere else."

Botanica Illuminations

701 Amidon St. Wichita, KS 67203

Open seven days a week
5:30-8:30 p.m., Nov. 25-Dec.31
(closed Dec.24 and 25)

Parking is available at Botanica, Arthur B. Sim Golf Course and the lot directly across from the Wichita Art Museum (a shuttle will be provided nightly to the South Gate Entrance of Botanica). All parking and the shuttle bus is free to the public.

Admission: $8/adult ($7/member), $6/youth (3-12), children under 3 are free.

Tickets are available at Botanica, online at or at Wichita-area Quick Trip stores. For more information, contact Botanica at (316) 264-0448.

Special events

Supper with Santa
5:30-8:30 p.m., Dec. 11-14

Dinner, story time, craft and cookie decorating with Santa.
Tickets: $14/adult and $10/youth. Reservations required.

New Year's Eve Fireworks
8 p.m., Dec. 31

Fireworks and special entertainment. Final night of Illuminations. Regular admission.

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