Bright holiday tradition returns to Encinitas garden

ENCINITAS — Holiday cheer filled the air at the Quail Botanical Gardens on the opening weekend of the annual Garden of Lights festival Dec. 11. The 30-acre gardens
were transformed into a
dazzling winter wonderland with approximately 90,000 sparkling lights illuminating the plants and trees for a magical holiday experience.
Numerous activities, including holiday crafts, marshmallow roasting, live entertainment and refreshments were available to enjoy. Perhaps the most popular attraction was Santa Claus himself. Children waited anxiously outside the atrium in the center of the gardens for their turn to tell Santa exactly what was on their Christmas list. “I bring my kids here every year,” Shelly Barstow said. “It’s very low-key.”
Children were invited to visit Santa as many times as they wished during the hours of 5 to 9 p.m.
This year the garden took on a new hue with the gift of 24,000 light emitting diodes, or energy saving lights, from San Diego Gas & Electric. The lights use 4.8 watts of energy per set as compared to 40.8 watts of energy for standard holiday lights and last up to 25,000 hours. They are also cooler to the touch and safer for children.
The garden event hosts a different musical act each night during the monthlong festival. Children as well as adults sang and danced to the jazzy melodies of the Jimmer Bolden Trio.
The maze of various gardens on display take on an entirely different feeling at night according to some attendees. “There is something magical about the gardens at night with all of the lights,” Laura Clark said. The Encinitas resident said her family wasn’t deterred by the weather from attending the event. “We like it when it’s cold,” she said. “It makes the hot apple cider taste that much better.”
The Garden of Lights is open until Dec. 23 and Dec. 26 to Dec. 30 from 5 to 9 p.m. The cost of admission to the festival is $10 for adults; $6 for members, seniors, active military and students; $3 for children ages 3 to 12; and children under 3 free.

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