Cheekwood Botanical Gardens is always beautiful, but November 25 – January 1 it is transformed into a magical place. Over a million lights are turned on and special guests come visit. Nashville has a lot of displays, but I think Cheekwood Lights may just be my favorite. Please note: This post may contain affiliate links
We decided to go on a Saturday night. As we drove through Nashville, we took Briley Parkway and passed the traffic to two of the other big light shows. People were backed up for what seemed like forever. I was a little anxious about how it would be at Cheekwood. As we got closer a little drizzle started to fall. It wasn’t a lot of rain, but enough that we decided to stop and buy a few umbrellas (Note to self: Keep a Travel Umbrella in the car).
We turned into Cheekwood’s grounds and there was a line, but it was only three cars! After parking ($5), the shuttle drove us from the parking lot to the main entrance. Since, we purchased our tickets ahead of time online ($22 each), we just had to get them scanned, and we were on our way! From the parking lot to actually inside the gardens was less than 10 minutes. There was still a little rain coming down, but we had umbrellas and we weren’t going to let a little weather ruin it for us.
Before we started walking around the grounds, we stopped at one of the stands in front of the visitor center to get some drinks . They had a great selection, from soda and hot chocolate to adult beverages. Peppermint Hot Chocolate with a kick for me and spiced rum apple cider for her.
Before I go too much into the description, it is important to note that this light display is a little different and may not be for everyone. If you are looking for crazy strobe lights and things that make you dizzy to watch, you won’t find them here. The lights are steady burning (for the most part) and tastefully done. That said there is a little something for everyone.
The front entrance starts with a curving path along a bed of lit up “flowering bushes” before coming around to the beautiful arched path. Take your time walking through this area and be patient with people. Everyone wants to get pictures at the arches and you have plenty of time. The arched path is punctuated with a stunning Christmas tree.
From the arches, the path continues down along the ponds, and water fall. The lights reflecting off of the water are gorgeous. You can take a little side path down closer to the water for a better view. Its a great place to spend a quiet moment with your date. There is a little stream running behind you and everything.
From here its up the hill towards the mansion. But not before a stop at the s’more pit. There are a few fires for cooking s’mores, concessions, and light up toys available for purchase. Cheekwood thought of everything.
The Mansion at Cheekwood is amazing any time of the year, but it is glorious when they decorate it for the holidays. We started our walk upstairs where there is an art exhibit. After making the rounds through it, we headed back downstairs. This is really the only place it was crowded the entire night.
The dining room was set, and down the hall there were traditional carolers performing. The whole thing felt like something out of a Dickens novel.
When we went back outside we walked around to the covered porch to look out over the reflecting pool. No detail is skipped for the Cheekwood lights.
Next we headed past the mansion to where they had a pair of real reindeer. We didn’t explore very much here; we had spotted some other lights we were ready to get to. The reindeer looked well cared for, and the area was decorated incredibly.
You would think after the entrance path and the Mansion, that Cheekwood could afford to slack a little for the exit path. You would be wrong. I think it was the best portion of the entire display. The candy cane trees, lanterns, flowers, and trains made me feel like a kid. Finally, we strolled through the last part of the display. We were reluctant to leave, but my shoes were soaked through from the rain, and we were getting hungry, so we had to wrap it up.
See you again next year
This was our second time to see the Cheekwood lights, and it was everything we expected and then some. Sure there are cheaper ways to see lights, but I don’t think there is a prettier light display anywhere in Nashville. The hard work that the employees and volunteers put in (starting in August) shines through Cheekwood lights. We can’t wait to go back next year!
Looking for other things to do in Nashville around Christmas? Have you been to Cheekwood for the lights? What was your favorite part? Tell us in the Comments.