A string of white Christmas tree lights dangling from a tree limb doesn't sound terribly magical. But that's only if you've never been to Brookgreen Gardens' Nights of a Thousand Candles. A simple string of lights is transformed into something mesmerizing when it joins thousands of other strings of lights, dangling from the massive twisting branches of a dozen ancient live oaks at the sprawling outdoor sculpture garden in Murrells Inlet Inlet.
Walk down this oak allée and you'll be entranced. Keep walking through the various outdoor rooms of the largest public sculpture garden in South Carolina, and you begin to feel like you've been transported to another world entirely.
There are many colorful and charming light displays in South Carolina, and even a few fantastically tacky ones, but there's nothing else like this. Nights of a Thousand Candles is not just a holiday light display. It's a work of art, a display worthy of the renowned sculptures that live in Brookgreen Gardens year-round. It's truly a wondrous, magical, awe-inspiring sight.
Held mostly on December weekends and ending on New's Year Eve, the event appeals to all ages.
The staff of Brookgreen lights more than 8,000 candles by hand each evening. The candles float on water, hang in the air, dot the massive fields in glass orbs, hurricane lamps and mason jars. The warm, flickering light is amplified by the million LED lights festooning the gardens.
The lights are not the only draw. Nightly musical entertainment drifts out from under big white tents. Seafood is on hand for dinner. Indoor displays of whimsical Christmas decorations and toys of the past charm visitors.
But these are only additions to the real show, which is how something as simple as a candle can be turned into something that takes your breath away.
"I want to run through these magical fields," my daughter said when she first stepped underneath the ancient live oaks. I knew just how she felt.