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Take the Kids: Moonlight in the Garden, a magical exhibition at NC State's arboretum

Posted November 1, 2018 8:14 p.m. EDT
Updated November 2, 2018 10:07 a.m. EDT

Courtesy: JC Raulston Arboretum

The suggestion of a trip to a garden might involve some feet dragging from my kids, but there's a different reaction when I mention going at night ... where there are sparkling holiday lights and food and roasted marshmallows.

And that's what you'll find at JC Raulston Arboretum's annual Moonlight in the Garden. This year, it runs 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Nov. 8 through Nov. 10 and Nov. 15 to Nov. 17.

Tickets, which are limited, are on sale now. They are $20 for adults, $10 for college students and $5 for kids under 12. Prices are $5 higher if you get them at the gate, except for kids under 12. Tickets already are sold out for Nov. 9, Nov. 10 and Nov. 17.

"Children respond well to beauty and appreciate and enjoy something that just looks and feels magical," says Mark Weathington, the arboretum's director. "Anything you do that gets children out and looking at plants, gardens and natural areas is an important thing. It's a powerful way to instill an appreciation for the environment around them."

For my family, the annual event, which is low-key and slow compared to others around here during this time of year, marks the start of the holiday season.

Here's what we love about it:

Lights and more lights

Luminaries line the paths. Tiny lights hang from the trees. And other colorful lights are strategically placed around the garden. In fact, they use more than five miles of cable powered by 20 transforms to showcase the arboretum at night. (Southern Lights of Raleigh makes it possible.)

Moonlight in the Garden at JC Raulston Arboretum

Marshmallows and apple cider

Food trucks will be on site with food for sale, but warm apple cider and marshmallows, which you can roast over an open fire, are included in your ticket price. Enjoy your treats as you listen to some live music.

Moonlight in the Garden at JC Raulston Arboretum

Evening arboretum ramble

As Weathington says, there really is something magical - and relaxing - about walking through the garden at night. It gives you an entirely new appreciation for the twist and turns of tree trunks and the meandering paths. It's a lot of fun to explore.

Moonlight in the Garden at JC Raulston Arboretum

The arboretum is at 4415 Beryl Rd., Raleigh. More details and tickets are on the arboretum's website.

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