One of the Treasure Valley’s favorite holiday traditions returns on Thanksgiving night! The Idaho Botanical Garden is ready to welcome guests to its 27th season of Winter Garden aGlow! 

Since mid-September, you could see their team, volunteers and some folks from the Community Reentry Center were hard at work stringing up over 500,000 twinkling lights across their landscape. The display is truly a work of art and the biggest fundraiser of the year for the garden. Since our visit, they’ve put the final touches on this year’s display and will officially flip the switch on Thanksgiving night at 6 p.m.

So what should you know before you go? We’ll break it down for you. 

Timed Ticketing is Back in 2023

Facebook/Idaho Botanical Garden
Facebook/Idaho Botanical Garden

It was an idea Winter Garden aGlow used for the first time in 2020 to help control crowds during the pandemic, but it turned out to be an idea that was a hit with everyone. Guests shared positive experiences on Facebook saying that the timed ticketing system helped alleviate stress about parking, made walking through the display feel less cramped and improved traffic on Warm Springs Avenue. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are sold in one-hour times ticketing blocks. They are available every thirty minutes and can be purchased HERE. 

Live Music in the Garden

Photo by Mario Mendez on Unsplash
Photo by Mario Mendez on Unsplash

Winter Garden aGlow organizers are proud to bring back one of the community’s favorite parts of the garden experience - live music from school choirs and other choral groups from around the Treasure Valley. The following groups are scheduled to perform on these evenings: 

  • 11/30 Hillside & North Jr High Choirs
  • 12/1 Idaho Arts Charter Choir
  • 12/3 Foothills School of Sarts & Science Choir
  • 12/6 Encore Theatre Carolers
  • 12/7 Boise Women's Chorus and Boise Gay Men's Chorus
  • 12/8 Idaho Arts Charter Choir
  • 12/9 Star Harmony Chorus
  • 12/10 Boise State University Choir
  • 12/13 Essential Jazz Caroling
  • 12/14 Ustick Elementary Honor Choir, followed by Chief Joseph Elementary Choir
  • 12/15 Idaho Arts Charter Choir
  • 12/16 Les Bois Jr. High Choir
  • 12/20 Longfellow Elementary Choir
  • 12/21 Meridian Missionary Gospel Church Youth Choir
  • 12/23 Holiday Harmony Choir

Write Santa a Letter and Visit With Him in Person

Photo by LuAnn Hunt on Unsplash
Photo by LuAnn Hunt on Unsplash

Believe it or not, there are actually slow nights at the North Pole during the Christmas season. On those evenings Santa makes the trip to Boise to take photos and visit with the children. Santa will be at Winter Garden aGlow on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays beginning November 26 through Christmas Eve! 

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Every evening, kids have an opportunity to drop by the Sweet Treat Shop to write a letter to Santa! The coolest part? If your kids get their letter in Santa's mailbox on or before December 17, they'll get a reply to their letter from the man in red himself! The Sweet Treat Shop is also where you can grab your complimentary cookie and hot cocoa!

Don’t Miss These Cool (and New) Features

Facebook/Idaho Botanical Garden
Facebook/Idaho Botanical Garden

While you can count on Winter Garden aGlow to always astound you with their light displays, their stoking stuffer station, complimentary cocoa and live entertainment, they're always looking for new ways to freshen up what you see! This year, that meant teaming up with local illustrator, Julia Green, who put together THE cutest Gingerbread Wonderland-themed map to guide you through the display and all the way up to the "Kid's Gingerbread House" and "Snow Globe Bar." To keep with the theme, you may bump into the Gingerbread Man wandering the garden and taking selfies with guests!

The bar is new this year! It's open Thursday-Saturday during the first weeks of the season. It switches to Friday-Sunday the weekend before Christmas and New Year's Eve. It's a pop-up al fresco bar under the "Gathering Place" They'll be serving some festive holiday drinks.

The Kid's Gingerbread House is really something too! It's life-size and decorated with overside candies! It's the perfect place to catch some holiday family photos.

They're also hoping that the glittering lights kick romantic date nights up a notch! If you're thinking about proposing at the gardens, reach out to their staff first! Not because you need permission or anything like that. Their staff wants to help you plan it and make it extra special!

The most important thing to remember is that Winter Garden aGlow is a FUNDRAISER for the Idaho Botanical Garden. Your support helps the garden provide other fun for your family year-round. They're really grateful for your support of the lights! 

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