Light up the night

When the plant life starts dying down at Botanica, the gardens are frosted with lights to come alive at night during the holiday season.

"It's magical — that's the way I feel about it," Mia Jenkins of Botanica says. "It's totally different from anything else in town."

Visitors can see the electric display over three weekends this year, starting Friday.

"We added Thanksgiving weekend back in this year," Jenkins said. "We had people tell us, 'Thanksgiving was a big holiday tradition for my family,' so we decided to add Thanksgiving back in."

On the last weekend of the event, a fourth day — Thursday — will be added as well.

New parts of Botanica are lighted every Christmas, and this year there will be a new light and sound display in the meadow. The music was in place last year, as were some seats for relaxing, but the visual effect will be completed this year, Jenkins said. The candy-cane lane in the butterfly house that leads to Santa's cottage also has been extended.

"It's a little more whimsical area to get kids excited on their way to see Santa Claus," Jenkins said. (If you want to take a picture with Santa, you have to use your own camera.)

Live music is a popular part of Illuminations, with groups of carolers stationed both outside and inside. Treats will be for sale — hot chocolate and apple cider, popcorn, homemade cookies and candy.

Because the event is a fundraiser for Botanica, people can make a $1 donation and get a chance to win prizes including airfare, a portrait package, a golf package and a flat-screen TV.

The gift shop will be open during the event, and Dutch's Greenhouse will sell poinsettias in the lobby Friday and Saturdayand on Dec. 11 and 12.