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winter wonderlights

A First Look at Winter WonderLights the Most Talked About Holiday Lights in Georgia

It’s nearly an understatement to say that after last year everyone, including my family, is eager to revisit their winter holiday traditions. Parades are packed, as are malls, tree lightings, grocery stores, light shows, and other attractions —this month’s main attraction, Winter WonderLights at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia presented by the University of Georgia Office of the President.


If you’re in Georgia and looking for a show of magical holiday lights then why not check out the inaugural Winter WonderLights at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, University of Georgia Public Service and Outreach unit.


We spent an evening checking out the first annual holiday light show to kick off our winter season and came home with all the feels. 


Read on to learn about our experience and everything you need to know to plan your visit to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia at the University of Georgia. 




winter wonderlights


Your Guide to Winter WonderLights


Tis’ the season for holiday shopping, decorating, and lights! I mean, one can never really see too many holiday lights, am I right?


Whether you’re driving around local neighborhoods or trekking to distant places, holiday lights are a must for every cheer enthusiast.


With all the holiday stress of shopping for gifts, decorating, cleaning, and wrapping, it’s nice to get away with your family (or your significant other) for a quiet stroll, hot cocoa in hand, through the passages of a glittering wonderland.


Kick off your holiday season with a magical night at Winter WonderLights at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. We did! And we loved every twinkling inch of it.


Winter wonderlights


About the Event


This year the State Botanical Garden of Georgia transformed into a sparkling “winter wonderland” for visitors to enjoy a half-mile walk-through of eleven magical light displays, open fires for roasting, hot cocoa, and photo ops.


Spoiler alert —there’s even a unicorn!


I attended Winter WonderLights with my son and together we enjoyed all the spaces like Peppermint Plaza, Candy Cane Lane, and Cone Tree Plaza. We felt the magic from the moment we descended into the garden with its wonderland of lights.


winter wonderlights


Things to Know Before You Go


When to get there: You’ll want to experience the full magic of these holiday lights so, be sure to get there at twilight so you can witness the transformation from a botanical garden to a magical holiday forest.


Winter WonderLights is on display from 5:30 – 9:00 pm every evening from December 1-5, 8-12, 15-23, 26-30, 2021, and January 2-9, 2022.


Winter wonderlights


Shopping: The Alice Hand Callaway Visitor Center transformed into a holiday market of gifts and souvenirs.


Eating: You can find light refreshments such as cookies, s’mores for open-fire roasting, bottled water, hot chocolate, and coffee throughout the light show.


winter wonderlights


Logistics: The completely ADA accessible walk-through takes about an hour, but if you’re anything like me, leave extra time for pictures and s’mores of course!


Parking: There is free parking just down the street from the State Botanical Garden of Georgia entrance that provides free shuttles to the attraction. There’s also VIP parking (more info on


Admission: $15 with free admission for ages 3 and under – $13.50/Friends of the Garden $13.50/20+ Groups


After the shimmery twinkles of colors beckon your holiday delight, be sure to stop by the Alice Hand Callaway Visitor Center for a bar of Condor chocolate —made special for Winter WonderLights so guests can bring the magic home.


Christa Thompson, Gauge Rybak, State Botanical Garden of Georgia


The Fairytale Traveler Experience


It’s no secret, last year just didn’t really feel like Christmas. It was just a weird year, and that’s an epic understatement, to say the least. So, this year I wanted it to be extra special.


Traditionally I kick off the Christmas season with Black Friday and bring home our Christmas tree. Then, I spend all weekend decorating the house (and cleaning let’s be honest).


This way I can spend the month of December with family/friends, baking, and checking out holiday lights near me.


winter wonderlights


Here in Georgia, there are of course neighborhoods and town squares in full holiday form. And you can usually find a drive-through light show nearby.


But there’s nothing quite like a walk-through holiday light show and for Georgian’s, this is the premier event.


winter wonderlights


From the moment we arrived at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia we were enchanted by the glittering display of lights at every turn.


With gleams of holiday lights twinkling as far as we could see, walking through the “vignettes” of cozy holiday flare was every bit of magic that we had hoped for.


winter wonderlights


Final Thoughts


They say the experience is in the details and Winter WonderLights spared none. With hot cocoa and s’mores, and even a market for souvenirs, there’s no shortage of holiday feels in Athens this year. Visit for tickets and further information. And for more images, have a scroll through our gallery below!


Christa Thompson

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

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