Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s holiday lightscape returns
CROWN HEIGHTS — Lightscape, Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s after-dark, illuminated spectacular, returns on Nov. 16. Lightscape was an immediate hit in its debut last year and welcomed sold-out crowds. This year’s trail shines with over a million lights and features new works of art by both local and international artists along with the returning iconic Winter Cathedral and a reimagined Fire Garden.
Lightscape runs on select dates from Nov. 16 through Jan. 8. The one-mile trail winds through BBG’s 52-acre landscape, animated by light, color, and sound. Monumental light installations and colorful light displays highlight the Garden’s trees, landscapes, and architecture. Concessions along the trail offer seasonal treats.
“We are thrilled to bring Lightscape back to Brooklyn Botanic Garden this year,” said Adrian Benepe, president and CEO of Brooklyn Botanic Garden. “It is the largest and most extravagant, artistic winter lights exhibition in NYC history, with more than 1 million sparkling, animated lights and artist-designed light sculptures along a one-mile trail through the bucolic beauty of BBG, accompanied by a creative, contemporary musical soundtrack. This distinctly Brooklyn-flavored celebration encourages everyone to find happiness and beauty and create festive, fun gatherings with friends and family. We hope residents and visitors alike will make Lightscape at BBG an annual tradition.”
“Lightscape’s million festive lights will illuminate this iconic trail and capture the imagination of visitors,” says Jen Hensley, Con Edison’s senior vice president, Corporate Affairs. “This spectacular outdoor event provides a fun, safe way to celebrate the holidays. “We are proud to be the lead sponsor, and to support the event’s Quiet Hours program for adults and children with disabilities or sensory sensitivity. We thank Brooklyn Botanic Garden for creating such a dazzling display for all to enjoy.”
Launched at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in London in 2014, Lightscape has sold out year after year in locations in the UK and the U.S. Brooklyn Botanic Garden is Lightscape’s only East Coast U.S. venue.
Many of the new works in this year’s Lightscape are inspired by the beauty of the Garden’s plants and wildlife. Shunkashūtō by Jason Cochran and Manny Jose carries visitors through the year’s changing seasons with a dynamic projection over the torii, hills, plants, and water of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. In Hanabi by the French artist collective Pitaya, filamented discs installed among tree branches pulse with light and color, echoing the rhythm of nature. Their design is inspired by species of flora and fauna that convert and store sunlight’s energy for later use. In Neon Tree by Culture Creative, bright colorful lights climb the leafless branches and trunk of a Japanese elm tree from the base to the farthest tip, outlining and celebrating its bare magnificence.
In a nod to BBG’s 2022 exhibition and program series For the Birds, several light sculptures depict illuminated, birdlike creatures: Nightbirds by Michael Young resembles a flock of oversize birds with neon-lit feathers, Paloma by Pitaya is an abstract take on a swarm of migratory birds settled in the trees, and The Ghosts by Studio Vertigo follow the form of origami paper cranes, a mystical creature in Japanese culture and a symbol of hope and healing.
New and returning showstoppers
Returning to Lightscape this year are two visitor-favorite exhibits from 2021: Winter Cathedral by Mandylights, a dramatic arched tunnel adorned with tens of thousands of individual LED lights, and Fire Garden, produced by Ashley Bertling, completely reimagined this year with new bespoke structures illuminated by real candlelight.
These showstoppers will be joined by all-new expansive pieces. A Magical Season by Christopher Wren features kinetic mirrors and lighting that reflect dancing patterns across the Plant Family Collection lawn in arrangements based on Celtic knots. The work is accompanied by energetic music mixed for Lightscape.
Neon Waves, also by Christopher Wren with Jason Cochran on behalf of Culture Creative, features strings of neon cord stretched between the Garden’s famous Kanzan trees to form an illuminated, gently moving canopy. The strands of colored light beam over Cherry Esplanade’s broad lawn, creating a monumental field of color.
BBG will once again feature the work of local New York City artists in Lightscape. NYC-born Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves is a writer and artist guided by metaphysics, network science, ethnobotany, and the granular analytics of poetic inquiry. Her piece, What If, was commissioned for Lightscape 2022. As visitors approach the Rock Garden, Greaves’ words reveal themselves in radiant shadows, offering a simple question that challenges visitors to open their hearts and “see things in a new light.”
With Windseeds, a work composed of three large-scale, stainless-steel sculptures—8, 10, and 12 feet in diameter—evoking the white seeds of a dandelion, Brooklyn-based artist Norman Mooney seeks to “connect our individual sense of self with the larger rhythms and patterns found in the natural world and to give context to our place within the greater universal mass that surrounds us.”
Masha Tsimring’s Light Like Water is this year’s contemporary take on a holiday tree. Adorned with dichroic tiles and mirror balls, the tree gathers and scatters light across an open area. Tsimring is an NYC-based artist interested in the layering of analog and digital technologies, specifically around light and video/photo media as they relate to memory, abstraction, and the textures of our natural environs.
Along the trail, visitors will hear a curated soundtrack of festive and ambient music selected to complement the artwork and lighting design. Lightscape makes dramatic use of BBG’s living and built environment—its trees, hillsides, and historic buildings—by bathing them in animated color and patterns.
Concessions along the trail will offer hot cocoa, hot cider, and mulled wine; empanadas, samosas, and other light bites; cookies and sweets, and more.
Tickets & special events
Nonmember regular admission tickets are $40 and $20 for children ages 3–12. BBG member regular admission tickets are $36 and $18 for children ages 3–12. Children 2 and under enter for free. Learn more at bbg.org/lightscape.
On Friday, December 7, BBG hosts a Family Benefit Evening, an exclusive Lightscape experience and fundraiser. Guests will enjoy trailside hot bites and seasonal drinks amid dazzling lights and colors as they leisurely stroll the outdoor trail. This second annual benefit event offers a magical evening for families and raises important funds to support the Garden’s youth education programs. Tickets to the Family Benefit Evening start at $75. Learn more at bbg.org/familybenefit.
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