The Norfolk Botanical Gardens, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, is offering a dazzling light show called the “Million Bulb Walk” every night from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. from Nov. 12 to Jan. 2.
The Dominion Energy Million Bulb Walk is their largest fundraising event of the year, and ticket purchases help them fulfill their mission for visitors to immerse in a world of beauty, lead through environmental action and inspire through education and connection to nature. The holiday light walking event is sponsored by Dominion Energy, The City of Norfolk and ABC 13 News Now (WVEC).
Kelly Welsh, Norfolk Botanical Gardens’s director of marketing and communication, who has been working there for the past nine years, shares her thoughts about the Million Bulb Walk.
“It’s an incredible experience to walk through such a beautiful place, and the garden is full of lights. And all of Virginia can immerse in one of the biggest tree canopies there is in the area,” Welsh said. “There will be some fun surprises and new technology to look forward to.”
Value nights at Norfolk Botanical Gardens are Mondays – Thursdays, and premium nights are Fridays – Sundays. Guests will not be allowed to walk into the garden from the main entrance road after 5 p.m. The walk is about a mile long with a concession stand in the beginning to grab yourself a hot cocoa to keep yourself warm.
It is accessible for strollers, wheelchairs and mobility assistance devices with a limited number of manual wheelchairs available on a first come, first served basis in their Visitor Center.
Skyler Lattuca, a 2021 Wesleyan alumnus and horticulturist for Norfolk Botanical Gardens and VWU, shared about his volunteership and involvement. “I was officially hired by Norfolk Botanical Garden in May of this year and have been here for about six months now. I got involved because I was always fascinated with gardens and sustainable landscape design, so this was a perfect fit,” Lattuca said. “I also had worked with Norfolk Botanical Garden to design the ‘Marlin Meadows’ extension of the gardens the year prior, so it seemed like a good fit.”
Ticket prices range from $15 to $25 for adults and $10 to $15 for kids aged 3 – 17. It is advised that visitors should buy their tickets online before arriving at the gardens to avoid crowding at the front desk, and walk-in ticket purchases incur an additional $5 fee per adult every night.
Welsh added how Norfolk Botanical Gardens adapted to COVID-19 impacting small businesses and organizations in Hampton Roads. “We were one of the only places in the area that were able to stay open because most of it is outside and people are able to social distance better,” said Welsh.
“The walk takes about an hour give or take and you wanna make time to stop for pictures. The purpose of the time slot tickets is to reduce crowds in the area.”
Taylor Glacier, a junior at Virginia Wesleyan, attended the event and shared about her experience at the Million Bulb Walk. “I love how there’s not just Christmas lights but also all types such as palm trees and mushrooms and the big spider which has been my favorite. I would definitely recommend going with people to share the experience with.”
Lattuca added, “I love the light show that Norfolk Botanical Gardens puts on. It easily outcompetes the other light shows in the area, and this year they managed to make it a much more immersive experience than ever before. My favorite part of the light show was an area with a series of massive blue icicle lights.”
“Setting up can always be intense and hard work, but with the help of our volunteers; we are able to make magical things happen. It’s amazing to hear people say this is the best ‘thing they’ve ever seen’ or just the sheer wonder of how we make some of our lights work. At the end of the day people’s reaction to the light walk is what makes all the hard work worth it,” said Welsh.
On Jan. 2, Norfolk Botanical Gardens is offering a one-night only event for dogs to attend Barks and Bulbs. The fido fee is $5 for visitors to bring their dog to the illuminated gardens. Visitors can pick a time slot to invite their dog to the event.
If you are looking to brighten up your night this holiday season, then attend the light walk event at Norfolk Botanical Gardens. Visitors can buy tickets online at www.norfolkbotanicalgarden.org/million-bulb-walk-2021/ or at their location on 6700 Azalea Garden Rd.