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Winter Garden aGlow is all about the numbers.

It started with 10,000 lights decorating the Idaho Botanical Garden and now it’s up to 500,000 lights, across 4,800 strands, artfully hanging around the landscape. The Garden hands out over 20,000 cookies and uses over 480 pounds of hot cocoa, said Chris Becker, marketing director for the Botanical Garden, in a behind-the-scenes look at the winter wonderland.

Set up for the fantastic light displays started on Sept. 1 and are finished the Monday before Thanksgiving, a little over 11 weeks. The teardown of the fixtures takes around six weeks, said Erin Anderson, the executive director for Botanical Garden.

The Christmas array is put up by women from the East Boise Community Reentry Center, a partnership that has been going on for 10 years, Anderson said.

Like each of the bulbs on a string of lights, alone the numbers don’t seem impressive but looking at them all together it becomes something truly impressive. A masterwork of coordination, planning and growth.

For 25 years, Winter Garden aGlow has brought twinkly lights to the holiday season and dazzled those that wander through the exhibit of lights. A display of over 500,000 lights hung among the Idaho Botanical Garden transforms the landscape into a staple of the season. Winter Garden aGlow is open Wednesday — Sunday, through Dec. 31.

Additionally, visitors can stop by a Santa and Mrs. Claus display — kids can even send Kris Kringle a postcard. Snacks and seasonal (and warm) drinks from local vendors will also be available for attendees while they stroll through Outlaw Field with holiday music playing in the background.

For those worried about a string of lights going out due to a bad bulb, fret not, the entire garden has shifted to LED lights to keep the garden glowing all winter long.

It’s not just about putting up the decorations for the women from the East Boise Community Reentry Center, Winter Garden aGlow serves as a chance to work at the Botanical Garden. This is an opportunity for the women to work a job outside of the bar and restaurant industry, Anderson said.

“Decorating a living thing takes care,” Anderson said. “You have to know what you’re doing and understand that this plant feels, too.”

Like 2020, this year will use timed ticketing for one-hour and half-hour blocks. The time blocks are: 6 – 7 p.m.; 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.; 7 – 8 p.m.; 7:30 – 8:30 p.m.; 8 – 9 p.m.; 8:30 – 9:30 p.m.

The Winter Garden aGlow makes up a quarter of the annual budget for the Idaho Botanical Garden. Between $400,000 to $600,000 is made depending on the year, Becker said.

“This is the best year we’ve had,” Anderson said. “This is our biggest fundraiser of the year. This supports us through the entire year.”

For the protection of the staff and other guests, masks are encouraged.

Tickets are limited. Admission for members is $12. Otherwise, it’s $15 for adults; $12 for kids 4-12 and kids 3 and under are free. Tickets will not be sold at the gate and must be purchased in advance at

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