After the success of the inaugural NightGarden at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in November 2018, the awe-inspiring light festival is back for another run. The entertainment company Kilburn Media, which is organizing the nighttime spectacle once again, promises more thrills, more lights, and more prizes this time.
According to Kilburn CEO Mark Manuel, more than 100,000 people passed through Fairchild’s expansive property last year. Some new additions — and a $2,500 cash prize up for grabs — might increase the guest count, he says.
“The garden is so beautiful and massive that we decided to make year two a lot bigger,” Manuel says. He emphasizes that this year, Fairchild visitors will find ample parking, which proved to be a challenge during the inaugural run.
“But the biggest change, aside from more parking and a larger footprint, is that we’ve made it more interactive,” he adds.
Manuel says to expect several new additions, such as a vine pergola, where visitors will be able to influence how the lights interact with one another, as well as shadow sculptures, which he describes as “beautiful illuminated art pieces.”
However, his favorite is the new psychedelic light maze.
“We wanted to do a maze last year, but because of numerous technical issues, we weren’t able to open it up,” the Kilburn CEO explains. “This year, we are opening up a visual, lit-up maze, and it’s going to look spectacular.”
Returning this year will be the fairy quest. The interactive hunt has been revamped to include a $2,500 cash prize to the first person who solves it.
The premise is simple: Help the Fairy Queen rescue seven fairies trapped somewhere in the NightGarden. If you find all of them, you'll advance to a more challenging quest for the substantial cash prize. You can play using a smartphone app, which also offers augmented reality features.
Manuel confirms the $2,500 award is a one-time prize, but guests need to attend only once to participate. "The puzzle quest is going to be a lot harder than the initial fairy quest," he warns.
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Also back is the talking tree — yes, the one Kanye West spoke with when he visited — as are the holograms, which have been upgraded.
However, the NightGarden's biggest spectacle is its unique arrangement of lights. Through a range of effects, from colorful orbs to impressive up-lighting, guests are transported to a world ripped from the pages of a storybook. Fairchild’s picturesque setting only adds to the installation's allure.
“Fairchild is one of the most beautiful gardens I’ve seen anywhere,” the California resident says. “That’s the beauty of NightGarden. There are other night light activations out there, but none in a space as beautiful as this.”
The NightGarden. 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday from November 15 through January 11 at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables; 305-667-1651; fairchildgarden.org. Tickets cost $33 via thenightgarden.com.