Enchanted Airlie Blooms for a Second Year

BY Mary Catherine Logan

Enchanted Airlie opened on Nov. 4 and lasts until right before Christmas — long enough organizers hope to provide visitors a chance to take in the beauty of the gardens during the winter months.

Thirty of the gardens’ 67 acres will be decorated and strung with lights this year. Employees began stringing the trees with lights during the summer and decorated right up to opening night putting 2 000 hours of work behind them.

About 25 percent of the gardens featured this year will be new to Enchanted Airlie including a lighted tunnel of icicles and 4 000 newly planted pansies flowering kale snapdragons and violas that will be in full bloom for the event. The 460-year-old Airlie Oak uplighted for the event will serve as a centerpiece.

Live music from gospel to the holiday repertoire serenades the nightly self-guided wanderers of the gardens. “Last year we had the Harmony Bells Redeem and many more musicians playing ” Katie Elzer-Peters head of Airlie Gardens said. “One night we even had a bagpiper playing.” Redeem has returned this year.

More than 20 vendors offer products ranging from jewelry to toy trains with prices covering a spectrum just as wide. The Lumina Winery Sand and Sky Jewelry and Illia Designs are present with Christmas-themed items as well as selections from their usual inventories.

“We have some really neat vendors. I have to keep my money from jumping out of my pocket when I walk by ” Elzer-Peters said. “Many of the items are perfect for gifts.” Aside from the multi-colored lights two model trains are on display indoors and out. And Santa is here to the delight of youngsters. Hot chocolate and cookies are available to those who need a little extra warmth.

Last year the event ran without a hitch. “We sold out every single night and actually had people mad that they didn’t get tickets in time ” Elzer-Peters said. “The event was very well received by the public — more than we expected.”

More than 25 000 visitors are expected to descend upon the gardens over the course of 15 nights this year. Many will be repeats who will “definitely see new stuff ” Elzer-Peters promised. “It won’t be the ‘same old’ same old.’”

Tickets are $5 for adults and $4 for children and can be purchased online at www.airliegardens.com or at Airlie Gardens.

Enchanted Airlie is open on Thursday Friday and Saturday evenings through Saturday Dec. 23. Two sessions are available each night one from 5-7 p.m. and a second from 7-9 p.m. Tickets are good for only one session each night.

Membership level Friends of Airlie will receive two free adult tickets. Friends of Airlie at the Dogwood Membership level or higher will receive two free adult tickets and two free children tickets.
For more information or to purchase tickets call 798-7700.