Each year, the botanical garden’s nighttime experience masterfully mixes hands-on art installations with atmospheric, luminescent forests, all against a background of uplit trees and shimmery sound effects.
This year’s event, which runs from November 19 through January 7, has shuffled some existing installations around and opened up a new glowing area around the rose garden. That’s where you’ll also now find HYBYCOZO’s familiar 3-D light sculptures, whose dizzying, spinnable versions return this year. The other big change comes on the main lawn, where sculptor Tom Fruin’s kaleidoscopic stained-glass–inspired houses now sit flanked by smaller ones that let you smash a button to control the lighting.
Elsewhere, Enchanted delightedly looks much like it has in the past: a field of faux tulips ripples with waves of (seemingly more intense this year) twinkling color changes while the mist-filled “Ancient Forest” still beckons visitors with its straight-out-of-E.T. setting. You can still tap the “Rainbow Sycamore” columns, and the event is just as intuitively immersive as ever. And, true to its botanical garden location, most of the installations highlight the natural beauty of Descanso’s flora—with a refinement that sets it apart from most other light shows.
Though some of the new additions around the rose garden feel a bit ordinary, Enchanted is otherwise mostly as magical as always—aside from the pricing. The $35 starting price is costly but common for these sorts of events now, but the $45 peak pricing (mostly on weekends and around holidays) is expensive, triple the price of a daytime visit. On the plus side, there’s no extra charge for parking, an increasing rarity among light-up attractions.
You’ll want to wear comfy shoes as it’s about a mile walk around “Enchanted.” The route is clearly marked and the grounds are mostly level, though some of the paths can get a little spongey if it’s rained recently. Make sure you bundle up before you go; lows in La Cañada Flintridge this time of year can hover around the mid 40s and you’ll need at least an hour to explore all Enchanted has to offer.