Attendees walk through the garden, enjoying the lights display. Photo courtesy of Anita White

Attendees walk through the garden, enjoying the lights display. Photo courtesy of Anita White

Bellevue Botanial Garden brings in 80,000 people for 24th annual Garden d’Lights

As the new year begins, the Bellevue Botanical Society wraps up its 24th annual Garden d’Lights season after bringing in more than 80,000 visitors.

Garden d’Lights is a holiday festival held November through December at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens on Main Street. As one of the nonprofit organization’s biggest fundraisers of the year, the Garden d’Lights event features Christmas lights displays throughout the garden and live music.

Darcy McInnis, communications manager at the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society, said more than 500,000 lights were set up by volunteers for the 2018 show. Work is done several months in advance to plan and put up the lights for the show, she said.

McInnis estimated that volunteering was consistent with 2017, which saw more than 100 volunteers spend their time and effort on crafting the event.

The Garden d’Lights event was started initially to drive more people to the garden during the winter, and has grown to be an annual tradition at the property. It started as a small lights display but kept growing each year. Now the garden features animals, fish, and even dragons created from lights.

New for this year were 23 musical acts from around the Eastside and Seattle, McInnis said, an increase over the 12 groups featured at the 2017 event. Also returning was the gingerbread village crafted by the garden’s neighbors in the Wilburton Hills neighborhood.

The Bellevue Botanical Garden Society was incorporated as a nonprofit in 1986 with the goal of creating the garden. With the help of some donated land thanks to the city of Bellevue, the gardens started on a 27-acre property, eventually expanding to 53 acres. In addition to the winter festival, the garden society also offers, classes, lectures and arts programs.

The money raised through Garden d’Lights will support operation of the garden, including support for the children and adult education programs.

McInnis said the garden society will take a small break and planning for the 2019 Garden d’Lights events will start again in February. Dates for the 2019 event already have been chosen, she said, with the event beginning on Nov. 30 and ending on Dec. 31, 2019.

The gingerbread village built by volunteers from the nearby Wilburton Hills neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Randall

The gingerbread village built by volunteers from the nearby Wilburton Hills neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Randall

A dragon built from Christmas lights was featured at this Garden d’Light 2018 event. Photo courtesy of Michael Burton

A dragon built from Christmas lights was featured at this Garden d’Light 2018 event. Photo courtesy of Michael Burton

A fish tank scene built from lights. Photo courtesy of Michael Burton

A fish tank scene built from lights. Photo courtesy of Michael Burton