DOMINION GARDENFEST OF LIGHTS 2012 FACTSHEET
The first GardenFest was 1995; Dominion (the power company) became a sponsor in 1998 and it has grown ever since. Dominion is title sponsor of Dominion GardenFest of Lights.
- The show uses more than half a million lights (500,000)
- In 2007, Garden staff began replacing GardenFest lights with LEDs. LED holiday lights are slightly more expensive than incandescent, yet pay for themselves in the first year through electricity savings (13 to 17 cents to light a holiday tree per season with LEDs compared to $6 to $10 for incandescents). Dominion GardenFest of Lights is now approximately 95% LEDs.
- GardenFest of Lights is truly a group effort and a year-round project. The Garden Shop staff goes to market in January and places orders, establishing a theme for the coming year very early. In 2012, a theme of "East Meets West" was established. This was based on the 100th anniversary of the cherry blossoms in nearby Washington, D.C., and Garden plans to add to the cherry tree collection around the perimeter of Lake Sydnor. The leader for this year's GardenFest design team was horticulturist Shannon Smith. The lighting displays are created by the Garden's operations team.
- With some of the lights (for instance, groundcover lights) we have to wait for leaves to come down and be cleared and for spring bulbs to be planted before installation begins.
- We start putting up the lights in September; after the show it takes several weeks to take down the lights.
- There’s a storage basement in the Education and Library Complex – half is botanicals, the other half is lights.
- Garden staff and volunteers create exquisite hand-made for GardenFest. Volunteers collect items from the Garden throughout the entire year and dry them. Garden staff then fashion them into decorations and the village for the model trains in the Conservatory. (A second train display in the Education and Library Complex is decorated by the Virginia Train Collectors.)
- Volunteers are invaluable to GardenFest – both in preparation for and during the event. Volunteers help with plant material collection and drying for the botanical decorations, which takes place all year. Display construction actively begins in June and continues until the beginning of GardenFest.
- Approximately 200 volunteers contribute more than 3,000 hours; this includes prep and working during the event.
- Volunteers help out every night of GardenFest. Approximately 22 people volunteer each night; approximately 990 volunteer slots are filled during GardenFest.