Uplit trees and over a dozen illuminated installations dot the roughly mile-long pathway at the second edition of Lightscape at the L.A. County Arboretum.
Whether or not the cost admission is worth it will largely come down to just how badly you want to pose for photos inside of the cathedral-like light tunnel. There are a few other pieces that’ll have you pausing for a bit, too: dancing lights projected onto a fan of water in front of the Queen Anne Cottage, a garden of fabric red roses, a canopy of iridescent beach balls, a carpet of pulsating lights on the main lawn and a surprisingly fun disco ball suspended from a tree.
RECOMMENDED: Where to see Christmas lights in L.A.
But like Moonlight Forest before it, Lightscape’s glowing sculptures may look remarkably photogenic on your phone but everything in between them often seems sparse in person. The installations rarely feel custom-tailored to the Arboretum’s environs and instead seem picked out of a catalog and plopped onto the side of the walkways. There are some truly odd choices, too: The laser forest is just too dim and the “ocean of glass” is merely backlit panels of glass blocks.
As a sort-of-moody and wintry but not overly Christmassy light-up display in the San Gabriel Valley, it’s hard not to compare Lightscape to Descanso Gardens’ Enchanted. For about the same price, Enchanted’s mastery of ethereal wonder has Lightscape beat. And not too far down the freeway, L.A. Zoo Lights offers a far more unique and charming package. If you can afford it, there’s illuminated beauty to be found at Lightscape—but with things like $20 on-site parking (there’s free parking at the mall across the street, and a shuttle by gate six) and single-serving s’mores kits for $11, we can’t really understate just how expensive this is.