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Lights Of Magnolia

4 Reviews
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Lights Of Magnolia

4 Reviews
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3550 Ashley River Rd Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Charleston, SC 29414-7109
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wctrvlr wrote a review Jan. 2020
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina591 contributions190 helpful votes
Excellent display that was well the price of admission. I don't know if it is a yearly thing or one time only but should see it before it ends. We used Uber for transportation, our first time, and worked perfectly.
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Date of experience: January 2020
2 Helpful votes
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thetravelorganizer wrote a review Jan. 2020
Tega Cay, South Carolina428 contributions210 helpful votes
When the sun goes down, the gardens are lit up by 23 hand-made, 3-dimensional, brightly colored silk and steel sculptures spread over 9 acres that make up the “Lights of Magnolia: Reflections of a Cultural Exchange” lantern festival -- the first authentic lantern festival at a public garden in North America. The magnitude of this exhibit is matched only by its magnificence: the displays, built in China and shipped to the U.S. for assembly on site, filled 11 tractor trailers! The dragon, which is 200 feet long and 45 feet high at the head, is constructed using 26,600 pieces of porcelain dinnerware (see detail in photos). Insight into the “behind the scenes stories” of these structures makes wandering among them even more magical. “Lights of Magnolia” is open Wednesday thru Sunday for 4 months, ending 3/15/20.
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Date of experience: December 2019
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DayBreeze wrote a review Jan. 2020
Brooklyn, Michigan402 contributions120 helpful votes
The artwork here was wonderful and fun. However, parking and pre-arranging is confusing and frustrating. Overly priced for the 45 minutes it took us to stroll through. Directional signage is poor. You can only buy online tickets AND make your parking arrangements online as well. It is a shame that this really great display could not be made more accessible.
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Date of experience: December 2019
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kristin z wrote a review Dec. 2019
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina44 contributions25 helpful votes
Had I not made a firm commitment to meet folks at this event, I likely would have missed out on this amazing art/light installation and experience. There are multiple deterrents from having the opportunity to see this FANTASTIC and unique light installation at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. We made plans to go to the Lights of Magnolia event over a month ago. The event runs from November - mid March but it seemed like a fitting holiday activity and it was! The designer(s) /artist(s) did an amazing job putting together this beautiful must-see display! There is a lighted dragon that runs almost the entire length of the attraction made almost entirely of layered and beautiful porcelain dining plates, serving pieces and cups. Our guesses are that there are somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 plates, saucers, cups, and bowls. They take this fantastical plated reptilian beast idea to a whole new and literal level! There is also a mosaic display using the reflection and refraction of light and using thousands of colored liquid glass vials. Stunning! The attention to detail in each light sculpture was spectacular. Two days prior to our plan to see the Lights of Magnolia, naturally, I checked the weather, saw a good forecast and went onto the website to book the tickets. I had already found out that 1) Parking onsite would be $50 and guests are encouraged to use the nearby shuttle at Drayton Hall Elementary School or a parking area on Bridgeview Drive off of I-526. The other option is to rideshare (taxi,Uber,Lyft). Alas, my window of opportunity to purchase shuttle tickets was closed! No more shuttle (school bus) purchase tickets can be purchased less than 48 hours on advance. I am certain that school busses must be booked so I reluctantly bought a rideshare ticket and made a plan with my friends to meet at Drayton Hall Elementary and we would book an Uber online to take us in. When we arrived a Drayton Hall Elementary, we were turned away. Despite the expansive and mostly EMPTY parking area, where mostly EMPTY shuttle busses sat waiting for customers, we were advised to drive several miles away to a nearby shopping center and call our Uber from there. Luckily, I had not already booked an Uber but in this suburban sprawl area it takes 20-30 minutes to get a driver sometimes, which in this instance, it did take 30 minutes. My questions: Why couldn't Lights of Magnolia organizers designate an area of this vast and divided parking lot designate one side for Ride Share folks? OR Why cant they sell tickets until the number of shuttle seats for the buses that they had previously booked filled? To watch these mostly empty busses drive away while we had to drive back the other direction making our ride share trip more expensive and lose yet another hour in the gardens? When we finally did arrive, the organizers and crew were directing traffic waving their arms this way and that-- very difficult to see even with flashlights in the dark. The driver followed their instructions as best he could but were yelled at and tracked down by a parking attendant who was very upset that he had not followed the proper procedure. They were waving this way for busses, that way for drop off. Heres my suggestion: Make a sign that says, "RIDE SHARE DROP OFF THIS WAY" > and (Mostly Empty) SHUTTLE BUSES THAT WAY". We finally arrived over an hour after we intended to find stunning and beautiful light show to be well-worth our efforts. We read every sign and admired the details of each display. We soaked up the ambiance of this beautiful evening, visited the large gift shop, and looked for semi private place under a tree or near a garden to sit and relax for a few moments but the two or three benches around were taken and in high traffic areas. After one hour we were completely done with all of the above. We actually went through the display twice. The rest of the plantation was strictly off limits. I am sure the organizers did not want wayward guests wandering around in the dark but a fire circle with story telling or some other gathering area would be so nice to build community and it certainly couldn't hurt to have some off the beaten path seating areas to admire the lights from a distance away from crowds. This is a fairly small scale event and given that I was able to afford it, I felt like it was worthwhile. But it did cost me almost $100 to buy the lowest level tickets and pay for transportation for two people. This did not cover and food or drink, which we had prior to the event at nearby Mason Jar Cafe (YUM) I feel like this is #1 very cost prohibitive to most people and a more convoluted to organize for most people who just want to go out to enjoy a beautiful family or romantic evening in Charleston. I personally witnessed 3 other small groups and a family at the shopping center who decided to abandon their plans because they saw that a ride share driver would not be there for 30 minutes and were frustrated at being turned away at the elementary school parking area. This is a shame for the artist and a wake-up call to Magnolia Plantation to experience this much lost business. PLEASE NOTE: On site parking for those with official handicapped tags is FREE and very easy to access. My original plan was to go with my friend and then return with my large family next weekend but this is simply unaffordable and too much hassle. Taking an Uber from our home in Mount Pleasant with a large group is out of the question. Sitting in a grocery store parking lot with children and family for 30 minutes waiting for a ride share is silly, and purchasing non-refundable tickets for questionable weather this time of the year is out of the question. If it were easier to get there on good weather evenings, it would offset any loss of empty profits from poor weather evenings. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens would do well to train their volunteers and staff to be a little more friendly (some were very knowledgeable and friendly but most were so hell-bent on making everybody follow strict and unclear procedures. We were directed to walk around like lemmings following a certain path. Don't even think of walking through the display in reverse direction! There should be a few more options to enjoy this historic site for the cost. If the entire gardens cannot be safely accessible, at least open some of the areas so that guests might relax and enjoy their time there. The folks at the concession area were very rude when we approached at 8:30 looking for a warm drink or snack. I felt as if they just wanted us in and out as quickly as possible. Again, this is an AMAZING opportunity so if you are planning to go, by all means GO! Just know before you go that you will spend much more time buying tickets, planning the circuitous process of getting there and getting there than you will in the beautiful, artistic, and magically designed light display and gardens. I would have easily rated this at a five if we could have bought shuttle tickets closer to the time of the event. It would have changed everything as it costs over $50 to park on site in addition to the $30 ticket (including fees). I imagine the costs for Uber and Lyft will rase as they did this evening and the distance really cannot be shortened due to no where else to park. I feel bad for folks coming from out of town to have to deal with this process with no advance knowledge of what to expect.
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Date of experience: December 2019
4 Helpful votes
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