Shimmering Solstice Brings Twinkling New Holiday Lights Display to Old Westbury Gardens

Shimmering Solstice brings a new holiday lights show to the grounds at Old Westbury Gardens.
Shimmering Solstice brings a new holiday lights show to the grounds at Old Westbury Gardens.

The brand new Shimmering Solstice walk-through, outdoor light show at Old Westbury Gardens boasts features that you don't see during its regular season. Instead of roses, visitors can view the lush, sprawling grounds blooming in holiday lights this season. The entirely outdoor experience is a stunning alternative to drive-thru holiday light shows. Read on for a preview of what to expect during your visit, then find more ways to mark the season in our Holiday Guide for Long Island Families.

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Boys sip on hot cocoa at Shimmering Solstice
Before you hit the grounds, grab some warm drinks and yummy, portable eats to fuel your light-filled journey.

One-year in the making, this milestone event is the fruit of 25 designers, technicians, and crew members under the direction of Lightswitch, an international collective of lighting, media, and visual design pros.

As you enter the dark grounds of Old Westbury Gardens, mystery and intrigue are almost certain to set in. We couldn't see any of their handiwork from the grass parking lot. The spacious entry tent, however, provided heat and light. We delighted in rich hot cocoa and cider from the nearby Jericho Cider Mill. One of my sons thoroughly enjoyed a walking taco—eaten straight from a bag of Frito's. Other snacks included mac-and-cheese, chili dogs, soup, warm pretzels, candied apples, and variety of candies—and all of the food offerings were portable, meant to be enjoyed alongside the illuminating installation.

RELATED: Must-do Holiday and Christmas Events on Long Island for Families in 2021

Boy in a rainbow-light filled lawn at Shimmering Solstice
Stunning lights—in a rainbow of colors—await in all directions at Shimmering Solstice.

Once we set off, we were immediately enchanted by the Shimmering Solstice light displays set along the gardens, grounds, and paths. We had a hard time plotting our course from whimsical lawn designs to covered trails bathed in ivy and twinkle; each one of us wanted to head in a different direction for the Insta-worthy photo-ops.

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Wander through brightly lit mazes at Shimmering Solstice
Wander the brightly lit mazes in the Walled Garden.

A favorite spot was the Walled Garden, where we attempted to navigate dazzling lawn mazes and played a game of Simon where we could get to control the lights. It's all about memory and cat-like reflexes for this interactive portion, so I won't disclose how poorly I performed.

RELATED: Where to Take Santa Pictures on Long Island in 2021

Boy standing in a field of lights at Shimmering Solstice
Stunning, creative, light-filled installations cover the 13 acres of grounds.

All in all, you're walking about one-mile as you cover the 13-acre installation. It's stroller-friendly terrain with plenty of room to roam and space out from any crowds.

The grand finale show is a not-to-be-missed 10-minute long, choreographed music-and-light projection sprawled across the south facade of the stately Westbury House. I'll resist sharing more as I don't want to spoil it—but be prepared for some wide-eyed enchantment.

Know Before You Go To Shimmering Solstice

  • Shimmering Solstice is now playing at Old Westbury Gardens. It runs select nights through Sunday, January 9, 2022.
  • Time-entry tickets are required and must be purchased in advance online; no tickets are sold at the event.
  • Entry times are staggered in 15-minute increments from 5:30-9:30pm, but once you're inside you can stay until closing at 11pm.
  • All visitors ages 3+ require a ticket; prices range from $16.95-$17.95 for children ages 3-17; adult tickets are $29.95-$32.95.

Photos by the author

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