Lightscape FAQs

Dates and Hours:

November 22 – 24, 2019
November 29 – December 1, 2019**
December 4 – 8, 2019
December 11 – 15, 2019
December 18, 2019 – January 5, 2020**

**Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day

Hours: 4:30 – 10 p.m.; last entry at 8 p.m.;  Garden closes each night at 10 p.m.
Jan. 2 – 4, 4:30 – 11 p.m. last entry at 9 p.m.;  Garden closes each night at 11 p.m. 
Each day, the Garden will close at 3 p.m. and re-open for ticketed guests only at 4 p.m.

Ticket Information

Tickets for this event are timed in 15-minute increments to stagger visitors for a better experience. However, the event is open until 10 p.m. (Jan. 2 – 4, 11 p.m.) each night so you may stay until then and enjoy the event.  Prices vary, based on the day of the week and date selected. Tickets purchased the day of the event are an additional $2 per ticket.


Buy your parking in advance and save 50 percent. Advance parking for nonmembers is $10 per vehicle; if purchased upon arrival the night of your visit, the nonmember parking fee is $20. Parking fee applies for all nonmembers entering the Garden for Lightscape after 4 p.m. each night of the event. Garden members always park for free. We strongly advise you to buy parking online in advance or to become a Garden member. Nonmembers who purchase advance parking can enter via the member lane. Parking fee does not apply to those arriving via a ride-share vehicle.

Complimentary parking for the following will apply to this event. Please present your ID/membership card at the entry gatehouse (one car per entry): Active duty U.S. military personnel and/or their families, reservists, and former POWs; reciprocal memberships (i.e. Morton Arboretum, Cantigny Park); eligible Chicago Botanic Garden Corporate Partner employees. Complimentary parking for teachers does not apply to nighttime ticketed events.

Do I have to book in advance?
We recommend booking in advance online. Each timed entry has a limited capacity, and we expect this event to sell out. You can also purchase parking (parking fee applies to nonmembers) online before your visit to save time. If you wish to buy more than 15 tickets for a group, please contact the Garden’s Group Tours department at (847) 835-6949.

If I book the wrong date, can I transfer my ticket to another date?
No. Please note: It is important to make sure that you choose the right date and time slot when you buy tickets, as we are not able to offer exchanges or refunds after tickets have been purchased.

If I am delayed and miss my slot, can I join a later slot?
Yes. We will accommodate you in the next slots based on availability, but please be aware that there is no entry after 8:30 p.m. and the event ends at 10 p.m.

What happens if the weather turns bad after we buy tickets? 
We think a little snow adds to the beauty of the event, but, of course, if the weather presents a hazard and a risk to safety, the Garden’s decision to cancel the event will be made at 2 p.m. on the day of the event. You will be notified via email of any cancellation and the re-booking process. Also, please check our website and social media pages for updates. 

I am visiting the Chicago Botanic Garden during the day.  Will I have to leave the Garden before entering Lightscape in the evening?
Yes, to ensure that only ticket holders for Lightscape have entry to the evening event, daytime visitors must vacate the Garden. During the days when Lightscape is offered, the Garden will close at 3 p.m. and will reopen at 4 p.m. for ticketed guests only.

How should I dress for this event?
This is an outdoor event, so please come prepared for the elements by wearing appropriate footwear and dressing warmly. Umbrellas are allowed on the trail, but we ask that you are courteous of other patrons when using.

How long is the trail?
The trail makes a one-mile loop around the Garden’s main island.

How much time should we allow for this event?
That depends on your pace and how often you stop. However, as a general rule, you should allow about one hour to an hour and 45 minutes.

Should I arrive in advance of my visit time?
Please do allow extra time for entry and parking, but do not arrive more than 15 minutes before the entrance time printed on your ticket. Your entry time is a 15-minute window from the time printed on your tickets (i.e., 4:30-4:45 p.m.). After you are admitted, you may stay as long as you would like. The event ends at 10 p.m. Our goal is to reduce wait times by staggering ticket sales, although there may still be some waiting time.

Can I come to the Garden after it closes if I do not have a Lightscape ticket?
No, the Garden will be open to ticket holders only. Tickets will be sold on-site, if available.

Will there be places to get a snack or warm up?
Yes, the Garden View Café will be open with soups, mac & cheese, and hot barista drinks. Halfway through the trail, warm up at another indoor food station in the Regenstein Center with schnitzel sandwiches, crepes, homemade doughnuts, and drinks. There also will be a hot drink station on the route, along with DIY s’mores so you can toast the marshmallows yourself in the Rose Terrace Beer Garden.

View all menus.

Will there be places to shop?
The Garden Shop will be open in the Visitor Center, and the Garden Shop kiosk will be open in the Regenstein Center.

Are there restrooms along the trail?
Yes there are several areas along the trail that have restrooms for visitors.

Can I take pictures?
Absolutely. However, no tripods or monopods will be allowed.

Are the pathways wheelchair accessible?
The route is designed so that it can be navigated on paved and crushed gravel paths. The Chicago Botanic Garden has manual wheelchairs that can be loaned, free of charge, on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of use; no advance reservations accepted. The Garden’s ECVs (scooters) will not be available for rent during this event. If the weather conditions prohibit the trail from being fully accessible, for those needing mobility devices (wheelchairs, ECVs, walkers, etc.), consideration will be made on a case-by-case basis to allow for tickets to be transferred to alternate dates. If you have particular access requirements, please call the Garden at (847) 835-6801 for further inquiries.

Are strollers allowed?
Yes, strollers are allowed. 

Are pets allowed?
No pets allowed, except for service animals.

Is there white strobe lighting?
There will be some lighting sequences that have some flashing lights contained within them; however, there is no strobe lighting.

What happened to Wonderland Express, the holiday train exhibition?
We are always looking for ways to reinvigorate our programs and engage more people in the natural world. Lightscape presented a new opportunity so we made the difficult decision to retire Wonderland Express in 2019, along with its ancillary programs, such as Breakfast with Santa, the Hanukkah and Christmas Concerts, and Holiday Cheers. Visitors can continue to enjoy trains at our Model Railroad Garden: Landmarks of America, from May to October.