Feb 10th, 2021

Instagram GardenFest Contest

The GardenFest Instagram contest has become one of our favorite holiday traditions. It’s a wonderful way for us to reflect on a season of festivities, joy and see how our visitors and members experience Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights. Can you believe we’ve been doing this contest for eight years now? We are so excited to announce this year’s GardenFest contest winner! But first….the finalists.

2020 GardenFest Contest winner for Instagram. Image by Devin Pilson

The 2020 #GardenFest Instagram contest finalist (from left to right). First row: felixandflora, legendsofdevin, katempollard, pangpang_tyler Second row: xander_the_grayt, the.parker.dood, mbhuger, skang.yi Third row: parysch, jennmcclellenva, timbo1958, airgarcia Fourth row: katelynecarter, chall1017, stephanierenee7 and legendsofdevin.

So, which one of the finalist photos is your favorite? Don’t scroll down for the winner just yet!

This year at GardenFest, one thing we heard over and over again was, “Thank you so much for being open,” or “My family needed this so much! Thank you for providing a safe space for us to celebrate the holiday.”  We hope we were a place of peace and beauty for you in a difficult year.

It’s these moments of awe and joy that make GardenFest so worthwhile for us and for our volunteer workers too.  This year, more than ever, we appreciated seeing everyone enjoying the lights and spending time with friends and family. Certainly, GardenFest was a bit different this year, like everything else. All our this year’s exhibits were outdoors with safety measures in place.  Advanced online tickets and masks were required. But that didn’t keep you all from coming out! With limited tickets, we sold out most nights. We also heard lots of feedback that you all liked the online tickets with limited numbers because that meant that parking was a snap and traffic to get in, well, there wasn’t any.  We will be sure to integrate what we’ve learned from timed ticketing into how we do GardenFest in the future.

You showed us much love and support too! Thanks to your daily voting, GardenFest ranked No. 4 in the USA Today 10 Best Botanical Lights Contest. Yes, that’s fourth in the whole United States!

Before we get to the winner,  I wanted to share just a few more of the comments we heard from visitors:

“My toddler spent 30 minutes staring quietly at the trains while sipping hot cocoa and talked about it for days afterward!”

“[We have children with compromised immune systems] and were very grateful to feel safe while enjoying something beautiful together and the food stamps discount made it affordable for us.

“Seeing the lights this year, in particular, helped restore a little faith in our crazy world.”

“We thought it was wonderfully done and all of your volunteers and employees seemed to handle the COVID requirements effortlessly. Not a small feat these days.”

So before we announce the winner, we’d just like to stop and take a moment to appreciate you, our wonderful visitors. Thank you for letting us know how much you enjoyed the light show this year and what it means for you and your family.

So, are you ready to hear who this year’s GardenFest Contest winner is? Let us just remind you that this year’s winner gets a Family Membership to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden ($125 value), passes for 12 to come back with friends during the day anytime this year ($156 value), and a Richmond Region Tourism attractions pass valued at over $500.

Congratulations to double-winner Devin Pilson! Devin, aka @LegendsofDevin, had two photos in the finals, both featuring her awe-struck daughter, and we loved them both!

Girl looking up at unicorn - Pegausus in awe.

What a magic moment! Devin Pilson took this photo of her daughter and the unicorn – Pegasus as they visited Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights earlier this year.

Girl looking amazed at all the lights. Image by Devin Pilson

Garden Visitor Devin Pilson snapped this photo of her daughter looking amazed at all the lights.

Devin says, “We are thrilled! It really is such a magical experience for us each year — something we always look forward to, and we can’t wait to come to visit so often now! You can expect many more pictures/memories from us on your lovely grounds! Thanks again for choosing us! ❤”

Looks like a win-win to us!

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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