Tips for Visiting Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights
Planning Your Visit: Helpful Tips, Visiting with Children, Parking, Food & More
In the Kelly Education Center, explore the interactive train display, visit the library filled with holiday decorations & sit by the fire.
HOW TO FIND
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is located at 1800 Lakeside Avenue in Richmond, Virginia (23228). If you are using GPS, you may want to use “Henrico” instead of “Richmond.” We’re on the corner of Lakeside Avenue and Hilliard Road in Henrico County. The Garden entrance is off of Lakeside Avenue. Map.
DO YOU WALK OR DRIVE
THROUGH THE LIGHTS?
GardenFest is a walk-through show. We encourage guests to dress accordingly with good footwear and weather-appropriate clothing. We do have wheelchairs and strollers but they are only available on a first-come, first-served basis.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE
TO SEE THE LIGHTS?
Depends on how much you want to see! We advise guests allow AT LEAST an hour for their GardenFest visit (this would mean arriving by 9 p.m. since GardenFest ends at 10 p.m.). For those who don’t want a lot of walking, there is much to see in the Central Garden (between the Visitors Center and Conservatory); however, there are many lights along the Garden’s pathways and in the Children’s Garden for those who want to “experience it all!” Want to plan your visit? Here’s this year’s GardenFest Map.
Traffic Tips for Busy Nights
Carpool! Check the traffic. Consider an Alternate Route. Come early.
As you’d expect, attendance to Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights increases throughout the month of December. The Garden is closed Dec. 24 & 25, so the nights immediately preceding and after those dates can be very busy. Overall visitation tends to be higher on weekends, when the weather is nice, and when schools are out. Although we plan for larger crowds, the weather is a huge factor and warm temps can really bring people out. During this busy time, we thank you in advance for your patience. Guest safety is our number one priority.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME
Again, it depends on your preferences. The number of visitors increases as we get closer to Dec. 25, especially once local schools get out. As you’d imagine, visitation is usually greater on the weekends and is also highly weather dependent. Visitation tends to peak between 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., so you may want to arrive early (4:30 p.m.) or later (after 8:30 p.m.) Please remember we are closed on Thanksgiving, Dec. 24 & 25. GardenFest of Lights runs through early January.
We will have a Pre-Purchased Ticket entry on select nights for people who have tickets on their phone or in hand for all in their party. This entry will be on nights with anticipated high visitation (Fridays, Saturdays and the week prior to Dec. 25). Our goal is to get you into the Garden as efficiently as possible so you can enjoy the show. Purchase tickets online.
Parking is free and available on-site. However, as mentioned above, the number of visitors increases as the season progresses. Sometimes there may be a wait for a parking space. If you see a long line at the intersection of Lakeside and Hilliard, you may want to allow 30 minutes or so and come back. We post signs saying “30 Minute Wait for Parking” to let people know the lots are full.
If you are meeting people at the Garden, please be aware that on busy nights there can be a lot of people in the Visitors Center; you may want to carpool or have a plan ahead of time about meeting up.
ANY TIPS FOR
VISITING WITH CHILDREN?
GardenFest of Lights is a family-friendly event! If you are bringing small children, please note there is walking involved, so you may want to bring a stroller. We do have a limited number of strollers available, but they are on a first-come, first-served basis. Since much of the show is outdoors, it’s also a good idea to dress children according to the weather. Want more tips? Read our blog post: 8 Tips for Visiting with Kids.
Come early! Check out the special events and nightly activities. There is a kid-friendly menu in the Garden Cafe and the Tea House. Children especially enjoy the train displays — we have two! — one in Kelly Education Center and one in the Conservatory. The Children’s Garden is a must with a bonfire, and a wheelchair accessible Tree House 13 feet off the ground! Hot drinks, cookies, s’more and more are available for purchase in the Children’s Garden. Children will love the new larger then-ever-maze, relocated to the Anderson Meadow.
WHAT KIND OF FOOD
IS AVAILABLE AT GARDENFEST?
The Garden Cafe offers casual dining (including a children’s menu) as well as drinks and snacks. The Robins Tea House has holiday dinners and a children’s menu (5 – 8 p.m.) and , light fare (8 – 9 p.m.) during GardenFest. In the Children’s Garden, Espresso-A-Go-Go sells hot drinks, cookies and s’mores, ranging in price from $3 for s’mores kits to $6 for specialty coffees.
WHAT HAPPENS IF
THE WEATHER IS BAD?
Our guests’ safety is our number one priority. We close GardenFest in cases of extreme inclement weather and notices will be posted on our website and phone message system. We do not close if it is simply raining. If guests would like a break from the elements, we do have indoor displays in the Kelly Education Center.
Look for a Richmond Times-Dispatch Press Pass Coupon: Buy One, Get One Free admission. Details on our GardenFest Discounts page.
Remember Garden Members visit GardenFest for free on Member nights. Learn more about Garden Membership.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is a non-profit organization. Our mission is education, and our passion is connecting plants and people to improve our community. Dominion GardenFest of Lights is an extremely popular holiday light show, and visitation during GardenFest allows us to reach a wider audience in pursuit of that mission. Revenues generated during the event help fund our mission-related activities year-round, including the display gardens, our Community Kitchen Garden growing fresh produce for FeedMore (the local food bank) and educational programs for young students, many of whom come free of charge.
GARDENFEST OF LIGHTS
Wonder what’s involved in putting one of the biggest Richmond holiday traditions? Here are GardenFest Facts that you won’t believe!