ROCK ISLAND – The 12 days of Christmas are all well and good, but if you want a holiday that really shines, and can’t afford five golden rings, check out 100,000 lights instead.
The Quad City Botanical Center will deck night with lots of watts for Winter Nights Winter Lights exhibit – and these won’t be silent nights; there’ll be plenty of “ooohs” and “aaahs” as visitors take in all the lights and sounds of the center’s holiday light show.
The exhibit features an outdoor holiday light display, where visitors can take an evening stroll through the gardens. But since it’s cold outside, people can warm up inside, where there’ll be a hot chocolate bar – and while you’re warming up, check out the indoor garden. Crafts also are offered, and expect to see musicians and singers.
The exhibit will be lit up into the new year and is open Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, as well as at night on Jan. 1.
The first activity associated with the exhibit is the Winter Nights A’light Cocktail Party, which includes the first lighting of the exhibit. The event runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 30. The cost is $35, which includes desserts, appetizers, a silent auction, cash bar and live music. Reservations are required and tickets can be purchased at the Center’s website.
For those who have an evening free, Winter Nights Painting For a Purpose will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4and 18. The sessions involve painting a festive scene on a canvas that participants take home. Dancing trees is the topic on the 4th, and holiday lamp post on the 18th.The cost for each is $25 and the sessions include visiting the indoor and outdoor gardens, refreshments, and art supplies. Reservations are required on the website.
Looking for a little romance? The Botanical Center is offering Winter Nights Date Night from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 5 and again on Dec. 19. No reservations are needed. Couples can explore the indoor and outdoor lighted gardens, where love is in the air, and hanging around – keep an eye out for mistletoe. Live holiday music will be performed and seasonal cocktails at a cash bar are available. Normal Winter Nights admission is charged.
For the kids, Santa and Mrs. Claus have been invited to come and enjoy the light display. They’ll be on hand from 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 13 and 14. Be ready to take photos and tell Santa want you want for Christmas.
Those wanting to celebrate the New Year can do so at the center on New Year’s Eve, during Champagne and Roses, which will serve up sparkling cider or champagne, cupcakes (yum) and a red rose, not to mention the beauty of the lights. The cost for the ages-21-and-over event is $40 per couple. Reservations are required. Tickets for this event also can be purchased on the website.
For visitors who don’t like to drive in the dark, Quad City Botanical Center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, from November through March. Its indoor Tropical Sun Garden is a wonderful way to keep the winter blues at bay. It’s warm and cozy, like taking a trip to a tropical paradise – the only difference is that you won’t go home with a tan.
If you go …
What: Winter Nights Winter Lights
Where: Quad City Botanical Center, 2525 Fourth Ave., Rock Island
When: 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday starting Dec. 4; ends Jan. 4, 2020
Cost: $8 adults (16 and older); $4 youth 2 to 15; and free younger than 2
Distance: About 70 miles from Dixon
Accessibility: Accessibility to wheelchairs indoors
Information: VisitQuad Cities at 800-747-7800 or visitquadcities.com or the Botanical Center at qcgarden.com or 309-794-0991.