American neighborhoods at night during the holidays demonstrate that there are decorative lights, and then there are experiences. An art installation in Los Angeles is taking those experiences to a magical new level.
The Enchanted Forest of Light at Descanso Gardens invites visitors to escape into a wonderfully strange world after dark. Working with the lighting and visual design company Lightswitch, the Descanso team created a mile of interactive exhibits and displays. In one area, thousands of tulip-shaped lights spread over the ground change color above where real flowers will appear in the springtime.
In another part, called the "Symphony of Oaks," illuminates the native oak trees. As visitors move along the walkway next to the trees, they control shimmering bell music. Using controls on a bridge facing the "Lightwave Lake," it's possible to manipulate the light show. Then there's a fun-looking "pool" on the "Luminous Lawn" area, designed by artist Jen Lewin, where stepping on circular light-up tiles causes them to switch colors.
And the scenery isn't the only thing currently glowing in the gardens at night. Visitors can purchase special cotton candy wound around lights to carry and eat as they pass through the exhibit. The show began the day after Thanksgiving and will be open nightly from 5 pm to 10 pm, except for Christmas Eve and Day, through January 8. General admission tickets cost $28.
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"[The installation is] rather pagan in its riff on the season's twinkling-lights-in-trees motif, ditching the trappings of religion and commercialism without losing any of the storybook magic your inner child craves this time of year - if your inner child is kind of a tripper," art critic Shana Nys Dambrot wrote on The Creators Project site.
The Enchanted Forest of Light exhibits were planned to take advantage of paths already used for events, and placed in ways so they wouldn't disturb the plants, Rachel Young, Descanso Gardens' director of horticulture and garden operations, told the Los Angeles Times.
For those who can't make it there, fortunately Descanso Gardens allows most photography and videography, including selfie sticks, as long as they're used with care. That means getting a virtual taste of the experience by watching the videos posted online. One my favorites is this one by LA local Nikki Sienna using a 3-axis pro camera gimbal: