Except for special events, the Cape Fear Botanical Garden is not open at night. The holiday season is one exception. The garden is open after dark Thursday through Sunday through Dec. 30 so the community can enjoy the annual holiday light displays. This is the seventh year the garden has hosted Holiday Lights in the Garden. The event grows a little each year as the garden approaches its goal of having half a million lights in the display. This year, the event gained enough lights to expand the display into the McCauley Heritage Garden.
Adriana E. Quiñones, director of horticulture and education for the garden, said, “We’re really lighting it up and making a big deal of the heritage.” Though the current facility encompasses 80 acres, the Heritage Garden was the original site of the garden. The McCauleys donated the old barn and drugstore, hence the garden’s name. The structures were moved on to the site from Eastover.
Now the heritage garden is meant to represent what 18thcentury agriculture was like in North Carolina.
The Heritage Garden is maintained by Cumberland County’s master gardeners and is usually home to common 18th-century crops like cotton and tobacco. During Holiday Lights in the Garden, it is decorated with thousands of strings of lights, and the old drugstore will be open for children to take pictures with Santa.
Though you cannot drive through the garden, there will be a hayride available for patrons. “There may be other surprises, too,” Quiñones said.
CFBG is a private, nonprofit organization. All revenue from the light show goes directly into the maintenance of the facility and into the organization’s projects. Through a partnership with Cumberland County Schools, the botanical garden has become part of many schools’ science curriculum. The garden staff also work with homeschooled students and have had more than 7,000 students come through the programs to date. The organization also has partnerships with several other groups, including the Vision Resource Center, Service Source and the Wounded Warrior Project.
If you are interested in supporting these programs and enjoying the holiday display, tickets are available online. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and last admittance is at 8:30 p.m. The display is closed both Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. Base online ticket price is $12, but there are a variety of potential deals available for members, children, military and seniors. Tickets will also be available at the venue, but Quiñones noted that people purchasing tickets at the door “may have to wait in a long line. So, I try and encourage getting tickets online.”
For further details and to purchase tickets, visit www.capefearbg.org.