LEHI — Luminaria is not your garden variety Christmas light display.
This event, according to public relations spokesman Josh Berndt at Thanksgiving Point, takes Christmas lighting to a new level, from the sparkling blue stream and waterfall to the summit of the gardens' Grand Allee where there's a lighted 120-foot tree. It includes a Candy Cane Lane, a Peppermint Patch, a Merry Mosaic, featuring a dramatic sweep of changing colors over the hillside, a Colorful Canopy with lights overhead, twinkling trees, an electronic forest, a winter woodlands, colorful caverns and a pair of real reindeer.
Everywhere you look along the mile-long walking path is a new visual experience of 25 unique and colorful displays. The Merry Mosaic alone takes 15-16 minutes to cycle through.
The Poinsettia Pathway in the Poinsettia Place, where there is usually a hothouse plant shop, is first on the walk. Then the lights take over as thousands of luminaria set in the Grand Allee make picture after picture with the 8,000 programmed luminaries that change colors and light patterns that match Christmas songs.
The Electronic Forest is a collection of purple- and red-lighted pine trees followed by the Blossoms of Light, Colorful Canopy and Celebration Circle inside a huge tree of lights that turn blue, red, green, yellow and purple.
Lights are strung on bushes low to the ground and high in the air, inside ornamental balls and in the Winter Woodlands. Glow sticks stuck in the snowy ground make a Glowtanical Garden.
A giant snowman stands among giant snowflakes in Snowflake Lane, and trees filled with leaping lights and along the Triklight Trail, lights do all sorts of crazy tricks.
The work involved was major. Berndt said workers started wrapping trees in the gardens in the summer.
"The giant tree was the last to be done because we didn't want to give too much away," Berndt said. "We wanted people to come and discover what Luminaria is."
Tony Latimer, Ashton Gardens director, and his crew installed and maintained the display this year and will do so in the years to come.
Latimer said one of his favorite areas is the Twinkling Trees with 10 50-foot trees decorated with an average of 75 strands of lights with 50 lights to each strand for a total of approximately 37,500 individual lights. It took two people 15 days to wrap all the the trees using a 60-foot lift to reach the tops.
"We started putting up the lights July 6 with 10 people. They worked until Sept. 16," Latimer said. "We took four weeks off to plant our 252,000 tulip bulbs and then we started back Oct. 17 with 25 people and worked to Nov. 17. (It's) a total of about 8,760 man hours, and that is just to put out the display."
Others were manufacturing the small houses and the gazebo.
"It's new. It's very popular. If you're bundled up, you'll have a great time," Berndt said.
Oak Island, a group that creates light displays around the nation, designed Luminaria, and Thanksgiving Point owners and managers have been working on bringing the idea to fruition for more than two years, Berndt said.
Berndt said the plan is to provide Luminaria as a traditional opportunity from here on out.
If visitors choose, they can visit and study the 35 statues of Christ's life in the "Light of the World" garden created by sculptor Angela Johnson as part of the walk.
Visitors are advised to come prepared for the cold. Hot chocolate and treats are available as well as the opportunity to roast marshmallows over a fire for s'mores.
If you go
Where: Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point, 3900 N. Garden Lane, Lehi
When: 5 p.m.-8:30 p.m. through Dec. 31, reservations required to limit size and crowd flow
How much: $20 for adults, $17 for children ages 3-12; group rates available