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Best Holiday Light Display in the Southeast: Brookgreen Gardens

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We know there’s some stiff competition in the Southeast over the best holiday light display, so we don’t say this lightly. However, in our books, Brookgreen Gardens’ Night of a Thousand Candles wins as the best holiday light display in the Southeast hands down.

The name “A Thousand Candles,” does not do this magical event justice. Actually, it’s more like a million lights, plus 2,500 hand-lit candles. Beyond the lights, it is set in one of the largest and most beautiful sculpture gardens we’ve ever been to.

It would be no fun if we gave away too many of their surprises, but we hope to inspire you enough to put Brookgreen Gardens on your Christmas list. 

Best Christmas Lights in the Southeast Pinterest Image (1)

Please don’t confuse our excitement for marketing. We are not sponsored, nor affiliated with Brookgreen Gardens, or any of the attractions we review. We just loved this amazing event so much and thought you would too.

Where to Stay for Brookgreen Gardens

Located in Murrells Inlet, SC Brookgreen Gardens is about 35 minutes south from the famous Myrtle Beach and just under 2 hours north of Charleston.

We’ve visited the area a few times now and our favorite place to stay is the Inlet Sports Lodge in Murrells Inlet. Offering spacious rooms with kitchenettes, it’s always our first choice.

However, when the Inlet Sports Lodge is booked up, we opt for the Hampton Inn on Hwy 17.

Both hotels are less than a ten-minute drive away from Brookgreen Gardens.

Night of a Thousand Candles

Arriving just after the event opened, we still had enough daylight to view some of the sculptures before sunset.

Samson and the Lion by Gleb W. Derujinsky background of holiday lights, Brookgreen Gardens, Night of a Thousand Candles, Murrells Inlet, SC
Samson and the Lion by Gleb W. Derujinsky

However, even when the sun goes down some of the statues get delicately lit adding to the experience.

Tortoise Train Bronze statue holding umbrella lights int he background, Night of a Thousand Candles, Murrells Inlet, SC
Tortoise Train by W. Stanley Proctor

In the heart of the gardens, you’ll find the two most memorable displays.

Photos can’t even convey the feeling of standing at the edge of the lake in front of Diana of the Chase by Anna Hyatt Huntington as floating lights dance across the water. Behind her, a curtain of lights strung from the top of giant living oaks complete the scene.

Lake with floating candle around Diana of the Chase by Anna Hyatt Huntington, Night of a Thousand Candles, Murrells Inlet, SC
Lights hang from a row ofgiant Living Oak Trees, Night of a Thousand Candles, Murrells Inlet, SC

Throughout the gardens, thousands of candles light pathways, create trees, and add to the ambiance of the evening.

Candles light the path, Night of a Thousand Candles, Murrells Inlet, SC
Cups of candles form a tree, Night of a Thousand Candles, Murrells Inlet, SC
Floating candle in the dark pond waters, Night of a Thousand Candles, Murrells Inlet, SC

Around every corner there’s another magical display, from floating lanterns to fire torches around the lake. It’s a night to remember.

colorful Chinese laterns hang in the night sky, Night of a Thousand Candles, Murrells Inlet, SC
burning brazier torch with an illuminated tree reflected in lake, Night of a Thousand Candles, Murrells Inlet, SC
Brazier torch lights up the night around the lake, Night of a Thousand Candles, Murrells Inlet, SC

Tips on Seeing the Best Holiday Lights in the Southeast

  • Ticket priority goes to Brookgreen Garden members. Only a limited number of tickets are available to the general public. Book in November to avoid disappointment.
  • If you’re late booking tickets, you may still get lucky. If member tickets don’t sell out, the garden releases them to the public on a drip schedule, so keep checking their website.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. The gardens are massive and require a lot of walking.
  • Get to the gardens for opening. Not only are there less people just as it opens, but you’ll have enough daylight to get your bearings and see the sculptures.
  • The gardens close at 9 pm. By 8 pm, the crowds dwindle so it’s a great time to get photos in some of the busier areas.
Living Oak tree wrapped in white lights, Night of a Thousand Candles, Murrells Inlet, SC

Book tickets directly through the Brookgreen Gardens website.

Want to know more about visiting Murrells Inlet or Brookgreen Gardens, check out our other posts.

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We recommend and use these companies to arrange our travel plans; they make travel planning easy and affordable. If you have questions on our experiences, feel free to ask us!

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