More than 1 million Christmas lights guide the way through Airlie Gardens this December

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Colorful forests invite picture-taking at "Enchanted Airlie," Airlie Gardens' holiday tradition. Photos by Jonathan Spiers.
Colorful forests invite picture-taking at “Enchanted Airlie,” Airlie Gardens’ holiday tradition. (File photos by Jonathan Spiers.)

WILMINGTON — Wilmington’s public, coastal garden has become a North Carolina winter wonderland. “Enchanted Airlie” has returned to Airlie Gardens.

Each year since 2005, 35 of Airlie’s 67 acres become home to 1 million Christmas lights, in addition to festive holiday plants, seasonal music and, new in 2016, “singing trees,” which are theatrically-decorated with lights and choreographed to music, a press release states.

“Enchanted Airlie is a holiday light extravaganza like no other with an enchanted nighttime forest of theatrically illuminated live oaks, small native trees, holiday flowers and elegant displays,” the release states.

Other highlights include live musical entertainment and visits with Santa, who will greet guests and pose for photos inside Airlie’s main building. Snacks, warm cocoa, wine and a local craft brew will be available for purchase, too. The Airlie Gardens gift shop will also be open.

Enchanted Arlie runs on specific dates from Thanksgiving through Christmas week. Remaining dates this year are: Dec. 2-4, 9-11, and 15-22. The self-guided walking tours will be held in two time slots, 5-7 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.Enchanted Airlie

Tickets must be purchased in advance, no later than the night of the show you plan on attending. Tickets will not be sold at the gate. Due to the events popularity visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets prior to arrival. Visitors should only arrive at the time indicated on their ticket to ensure enough parking.

Tours are held rain or cold, and the terrain includes mixed paths of mulch, gravel, grass, earth, and paved materials. Dress appropriately.

Rules for attending the event can be found on the Enchanted Airlie web page.

Tickets are available for purchase online or in-person at the Airlie Gardens service center, 300 Airlie Road, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Group rates are available.