Colonial Williamsburg Lights a Palace Garden Glow Event – here is our review.
I am not sure what I was expecting but this event far surpassed what I thought it would be. Here is a review and some tips on the event. The biggest tip is that the event ends this Sunday May 2, 2021 so if don’t want to miss it, skip the review and click this link for tickets.
Now, on to the event. The location of the event is throughout the gardens behind the Governor’s Palace, located at the end of the large green space just past Bruton Parish Church in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic area. If you have visited these gardens during the day – this will be a treat, but if you haven’t seen the gardens of the Governor’s Palace, then this will really surprise you.
Here are a couple of tips before we delve into our review and images. First of all, parking….there is plenty of free parking after 6 pm. We got a spot in the parking lot behind Blue Talon which put us strategically near Baskin Robbins…where we actually started our evening.
Other parking options include the free parking lot at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg at 301 S. Nassau Street, the parking lot by Mellow Mushroom, then there is street parking and you can always opt to pay $1 per hour parking at the Prince George Parking Garage at 230 N. Henry St.
Our tickets were waiting for us at the Lumber House on Duke of Gloucester which sits at the opposite end of the green space facing the Governor’s Palace at 104 Duke of Gloucester St. (DoG St.). You can also purchase your tickets online before you head out.
It is best to arrive 10 minutes before your time so that you will have the full hour inside. Do you need the full hour? I have no idea if you will, but I can tell you we needed it and here is why…. the lights are amazing and there are interactive sections that if you breeze through you will totally miss out on! Plus you can go back and revisit parts you liked and get those family selfies with the glowing lights in the background.
The event starts while you are in line with the two Earls outside the event entertaining you while you are waiting in line. These gentlement are an improv comedy SNL-style-duo but from the 18th century. Definitely engage with them, they will banter back and they are hilarious, pompously aristocratic and an all around good time. They are also waiting for you at the exit and will have another go at you, if you give them an opportunity.
When you enter the event, you are entertained immediately with a singer/guitarist (I will correct the instrument when someone lets me know what he was playing in the comments below). He serenades you as you get adjusted to the glowing lights that surround you. This area leads you to another musician playing …we shall call it the clarinet (again I feel sure someone will correct me very quickly below). Where this second musician is playing the lights really expand. There are rows of lit roses. Projected designs on the brick wall of the Palace and lit walk ways that have cressets ablaze.
In this section you will also find the archway of trees. Many know of this archway because so many brides and families have their photos taken there, it is picturesque. And as you walk through it make sure to step on the black square pads on the ground. When you do notes will play and the lights will change. I am sorry to admit I made it almost to the end before I learned about this…I thought the music was just really weird. It was people making the music and the light show in a tree atrium archway. Brilliant. So fun. After I realized it, I saw people of every age, go through and step on and off the pads – getting a giggle and repeating it. It is beautifully lit so even just walking though and not stepping on the pads is a lovely experience.
As you leave this section you travel to where they have an animated CW Lights sign you can watch as you walk to what became another favorite spot for my family: the hedge maze. It is too tall to see over and they have the tops all lit so you get to wander the maze in the dark with the soft glow of thousands of tiny lights. I totally got lost. When I finally got out, my two kids, clearly frustrated with me for never finding the center, left me and went in by themselves. They immediately found the center…flashed a light so I could see them and take the picture below where you can see the light from their cell phone: dead-center of the maze. They then returned to me in a matter of minutes. So unless you have a terrible sense of direction like me – you are fine going through the maze. And it is fun, and you get to hear everyone else make bad choices and find dead ends. It is hilarious.
After the maze you can keep going down the path (or turn around like we did and go back to the archway and the musical pads). After a second take at the musical archway we did head down the path to where a drummer kept a nice beat as we walked along with a pond on one side and a glowing hill of lights on the other. This took us to the last hill that was lit with lollypop lights and in the middle were two musicians playing for us stragglers. The last section was lights that made the pathway look like stained glass.
My daughter thought they had spray painted it. It really was cool.
As we headed out we were greeted by the comedic duo again. The Lords were on fire. Making fun of my daughter’s NASA shirt, saying it was a Southern accent for “Ney’ Sir”. “And why would anyone put a dog on Mars” they demanded when I told them NASA put a rover on Mars. They were hilarious. I left by telling them it was a pleasure to meet them and they assured me the pleasure was all mine. And it was!
So should you go? We would say, “Yes!” it is a perfect COVID safe outing. The staff and all guests must wear masks. It is a timed events so as not to exceed capacity. No stroboscopic lights are used. Unfortunately, because of the outdoor terrain, it is not ADA accessible. Make note before you go to wear comfortable shoes as you are walking through a garden and you will probably be a nice walk from your car, too. Also please note that this event is only for bipedal animals.
Get tickets now before they are gone! The lights turn off this Sunday night May 2, 2021
For more events going on in Colonial Williamsburg check out our page dedicated to upcoming events at Colonial Williamsburg!
Visit our Daily Calendar of Events in Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg is an advertiser on Williamsburg Families. Tickets are provided to staff to review events but opinions are the reviewer’s own.