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Shimmering Solstice Blends Nature, History, and Lights at Old Westbury Gardens

shimmering solstice old westbury gardens
Photo by Briana Bonfiglio

Here’s what to expect at Old Westbury Gardens’ Shimmering Solstice

There are several holiday light shows to see across Long Island – in fact, it seems that more pop up every year – and each one has different elements that make it unique. For Shimmering Solstice, a dichotomy of colorful lights dispersed across Old Westbury Gardens, culminating in a festive flurry of projections on the historic Westbury House, separates this experience from the rest.

shimmering solstice old westbury gardens
Photo by Briana Bonfiglio

Shimmering Solstice is a maze of glimmering lights and bare trees lit by a colorful glow. Highlights include the rainbow-lit garden wall and the pond of lanterns, which is a new addition for the second year of this walk-through event.

Unlike other light shows that draw in families around the holidays, Shimmering Solstice doesn’t have any Santa, snowmen, or reindeer. It instead offers guests a charming way to experience the gardens on a brisk winter night. For example, a walk through the rose garden under a row of hanging chandeliers leads to a proposal corner with lights arranged in the shape of a heart, constructed specifically for those who want a romantic spot to pop the big question.

shimmering solstice old westbury gardens
Photo by Briana Bonfiglio

That’s not to say that Shimmering Solstice isn’t for kids – it certainly is. They’ll be just as dazzled by all the bright colors in both low and high places, from the glowing lotus flowers to the sparkling Christmas tree at the end of the display. Plus, there are several new interactive installations along the way, including a musical motion activity and buttons that change the colors of disco balls and existing statues at the Gardens.

When guests enter, there is a large tent selling light-up, holiday-themed toys for kids. Toward the midpoint of Shimmering Solstice, there is a large, open area with benches and heaters to take a break from the cold, as well as a vendor spot to buy snacks and beverages, such as popcorn and hot chocolate. On Friday, there was even a group of Christmas carolers providing some entertainment.

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Photo by Briana Bonfiglio

The finale is a 10-minute show, which plays about every 15 minutes, projected onto the Westbury House and set to music. It displays all kinds of wondrous visuals from nature and beyond. Part of it includes historic Phipps family photos, and other parts interact with the mansion itself, showing what it would look like decked out for Christmas in garland and bows. The house is still open for tours during the day.

Guests are free to walk around the different parts of the show with a timed ticket, which must be bought in advance. Tickets are $19.95 for kids 2 to 13 years old and $34.95 for adults. There are some discounts available for students and seniors. Shimmering Solstice is presented by Catholic Health and runs through Jan. 1.

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