Florida may not be known for its white Christmas, but the Sunshine State definitely knows how to make the holiday season a very colorful one. There are tons of places all across the state celebrating the holidays with sparkling lights that bring joy to both young and old. Among the most anticipated events during the holiday season in Tampa Bay is the Florida Botanical Gardens' Holiday Lights in The Gardens in Largo. We brought along Chad's mom to experience this magical spectacle that brings thousands of visitors year after year.

Christmas Walkway - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Enveloped by tall trees and lush vegetation, it was hard to see the Botanical Garden coming from the gates right away. But as we made our way from the boardwalk to the "Snowflake Bridge", we were surprised to discover a "tropical" winter wonderland filled with 750, 000 bright, colorful lights that made us feel so giddy like little kids.

Entrance - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

At the main entrance, we found ourselves surrounded by trees outfitted with all sorts of colorful lights. Some of them even had stars hanging down from the branches! It surely felt like we'd discover some luminescent alien world like that of Avatar or even Fantasia. The event features different varieties of holiday lights displays, with each garden showcasing its own theme.

We were particularly impressed by the various glowing animals that appeared to interact with the plants in the garden as we walked along the Tropical Walkway. We saw random alligators lighting up our path, and even a flamboyance of flamingos (yes, apparently a group of flamingos is called flamboyance) standing next to a tiny pond.

Electric Flamingos - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

We also found this small family of deer feeding off garden leaves, glowing so brightly in white:

Reindeers - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Perhaps the most unforgettable display for us was walking through Florida Botanical Gardens' newest addition, the Butterfly Garden. We had a lot of fun finding dozens of glowing butterflies that "hovered" above multi-colored LED-laden shrubs.

Butterfly Garden - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

But there was definitely a lot more to see in the Gardens than just glowing animals. We also thoroughly enjoyed exploring other displays such as the one in the Palm Garden. We spent a good amount of time just sitting in the garden's beach chairs, enjoying the view of brightly lit palm trees that reminded us of that one popular Corona Christmas ad. Being from the tropics ourselves, being there evoked thoughts of our other home, the Philippines.

Beach Lounge Chairs - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Another noteworthy display was the "Wedding Garden". There we got to experience all the holiday staples, such as an a capella choir singing timeless holiday songs and a giant Christmas tree in the middle of the square. The whole place made us remember how magical the yuletide season can be, and we didn't really mind feeling like kids all over again. It was a strange, happy experience that we would definitely love to experience again next year.

Wedding Gazeebo - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Holiday Lights in The Garden is an annual fundraising event by Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation, made possible by hundreds of volunteers and generous sponsors. Suggested donation for adults is $4.00 and children under 12 get in for free! Make sure that you bring cash with you for the donation. There is an ATM by the Welcome Center if you need cash. The event runs from November 25th to December 31st. There is free nightly entertainment and children even get to meet and greet Santa at the Palm Garden! You still have two weeks to experience this one-of-a-kind event so don't forget to check it out!

Christmas Tree - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

For more information about this event, please visit visitstpeteclearwater.com

Please click on the map for directions:

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