Colonial Williamsburg Lights a Palace Garden Glow Event returns March 31 – April 22, 2023 from 8 pm – 10:00 pm
Less than two weeks left!
Colonial Williamsburg Lights a Palace Garden Glow Event is returning this spring. Enjoy this family-friendly evening experience in the Governor’s Palace Gardens in Colonial Williamsburg.
DATES: March 31 – April 22, 2023
TIMES: 8 pm – 9 pm
8:30 pm – 9:30 Pm
9:00 pm – 10:00 PM
This magical glow event will transform Colonial Williamsburg’s world-class gardens into the star of the show, illuminating the Spring bloom like never before. There are musicians playing the sounds of the finest 18th-century entertainments as you and your family stroll through the enchanted gardens.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to make this a wonderful evening:
- Please note that this event is not ADA accessible. The terrain of the gardens requires guests to travel up and down stairs without ramps and handrails, and through uneven oyster shell pathways that make it especially difficult for those with mobility issues and those in wheelchairs. Service animals are welcome.
- No stroboscopic lights will be used.
- CW Lights is a walking experience, so please wear comfortable shoes.
- Children under two years of age do not require a ticket to CW Lights.
- Guests can bring strollers, however, there are stairs and uneven terrain throughout the Palace Garden experience, in which a stroller will need to be carried.
- Pets are not permitted.
- Parking is free at the 301 S. Nassau St. lot. There are paid parking areas closer to the event. If you park for free at the Visitor Center and take the free shuttle bus just remember the bus stops at 10 pm.
Wondering what it will be like? If you want to read our review of the first year’s event and see pictures just keep scrolling, but if you are ready to get your tickets here is the link for tickets.
Here is our review written in April of 2021….
I am not sure what I was expecting but this event far surpassed what I thought it would be.
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….free parking is available at the Art Museums parking lot at 301 S. Nassau Street or one of the paid parking lots closer to the Historic Area like the parking at the Prince George Parking Garage at 230 N. Henry St. We got a spot in the parking lot behind Blue Talon which put us strategically near Baskin Robbins…where we actually started our evening.
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 gentlemen 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 walkways 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 really fun. 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 say, “Yes!”. It is a timed event so as not to exceed capacity but they don’t ask you to leave – you can stay past the hour but they just regulate the entrance. 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 people, no pets at this event. Kids are welcome and kids under two have free admission.
Get tickets now before they are gone!
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.