JC Raulston Arboretum celebrates four years of lights

The lights are on for the fourth annual Moonlight in the Garden. Beginning November 7, visit the JC Raulston Arboretum on N.C State’s campus for a stunning display of lighting throughout the extensive garden. Laser-cut light sculptures create dancing shapes across the landscape; electrifying colors turn trees and bushes technicolor in hues of purple, blue and green and hundreds of luminaries line the walkways.

The goal of this experience is to engage a new audience to the space. “Our real mission is to connect people with plants and gardens and the natural world,” says Mark Weathington, director at the arboretum. “Moonlight in the Garden is a way to give people a different experience. It brings new people to the garden, and allows frequent visitors to see their favorite parts of the garden displayed in a new way.”

Over 700 temporary fixtures will be installed by Southern Lights of Raleigh, totalling approximately 1,000 lights. Assistant Director Arlene Calhoun says that some fixtures are meant for audience participation. “It’s really an immersive experience as you walk through: there are chalkboard walls, shadow dancers and create-your-own light layering.”

There will also be treats along the way at this kid-friendly event—you can roast marshmallows at the fire pit, or drink an exclusive batch of beer from Carolina Brewery. Weathington says that the lights are meant to enhance the garden’s features and allow guests to see it in a new way. “What we do here is really about the gardens, it completely changes how you see it. It’s a magical experience.” —Catherine Currin