Glow at the South Coast Botanic Garden Review

May 26, 2023
David Sunnyside

The South Coast Botanic Garden’s glowing lights are the most cosmically mesmerizing of the budding after-dark botanical gardens that blanket L.A. toward the end of the year. The year-end light show, Astra Lumina, is inspired by the idea of visiting stars, transforming the Palos Verdes trail into a celestial pathway of lustrous light, astral visions, and planetary song. Guests can explore nine stellar installations, with the help of an audio guide that provides background information on each.

This is the 17th experience in the Lumina Enchanted Night Walk series and was created by Moment Factory, who has produced other similar events around the world. That pedigree brings a clarity of polish to the event, from the way the installations are paced (there are duration markers at each) to the loose celestial story that binds the whole thing together. The experience also has a sense of humor that isn’t found at other botanical gardens shows.

Photographing is a big part of the experience, and many of the exhibits are ideal for taking selfies or more formal portraits. For those with SLR or DSLR cameras, the bright, colored lighting on the trees and plants provide beautiful backdrops. For best results, bring an external speedlight or other illumination to reduce the glare from your flash.

Picnics are welcome, though picnic setups without tents or staked umbrellas are discouraged during special events and certain exhibitions like GLOW. Bespoke picnic experiences with curated food and beverages may be booked through the Garden’s Special Events department for a fee starting at $350. The Garden will not tolerate inappropriate behavior, including yelling, threats, violence, or harassment of staff or visitors.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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