No trip to Arizona is complete without visiting the desert…well, Phoenix IS actually in the Sonoran Desert and it especially feels like a desert if you are visiting in August and go to the zoo when it’s 117 degrees. Yes, I did that once. But this time I chose a better time to go….in February, warm during the day, cool at night. Perfect for a stroll around the Desert Botanical Gardens and even better because there was a special night exhibit “Sonoran Lights by Bruce Munro“. Bruce Munro is a British artist who is known for large scale light based installations. How large? Well….31,000 individual lights and hundreds of miles of fiber optic cables large. This display took 3 years to plan and 5 weeks to install. And let me tell you, it was worth a visit!
So off my mom and I went…late in afternoon so we had plenty of time to wander the gardens in the daytime and then watch the sunset and see the special light display at night. The gardens consist of 140 acres of over 50,000 cacti and other desert plants with trails located throughout so you can wander as you please. Many of the cacti (I sound so official, like I know what I’m talking about, ha!) were blooming and in quite an array of colors. These are my favorites. And they come in all shapes and sizes like the “spikey” ones above….and this “snake” looking one below. Or this tall one which is called a “Boojum” which is Spanish for candle. Or the more traditional one (Saguaro) that everyone is used to seeing.Or these little round ones called barrel cactus.And if you want to be creative, you can make a sundial out of them too!Before it got too dark, my Mom and I had a little fun using my “selfie stick” to take some pictures. We also checked out the Water Meditation Circle. All around the outside (behind where the people are sitting) is a ring of water. If you stand in the center, like my Mom, you can hear a distinct hum….but only if you stand right in the middle.Before the sun went down, we got a few glimpses of the light displays before they were lit up. There were eight displays set all throughout the gardens. This is a view of the “Water Towers” during the day. And a closer view of just a few of the fifty-eight towers, each made from more than 200 water bottles that change colors via fiber optics cables that are placed inside each bottle.They aren’t very tall, as my Mom is a little under 5 feet…probably closer to 4’10”. (she’s shrinking!)And here you can see the Field of Light”, a sprawling piece made of thousands of color-changing light spheres laid out over the the hillside, are starting to shine.Once the sun set, the hillside came to life. This picture doesn’t in anyway do it justice. It’s soooo much better in person and awesome to watch it change from green to blue, to red, to yellow.This is the whole mountainside lit up. I didn’t take this picture above….my phone camera is not good enough for this, but I found this on the internet (Credit to telepathicstuntman.com). So now you can see how beautiful it was! You could stand and watch it change colors , but there were other displays to see. This one is called “Temperate Zone”. Munro has created the “Sonoran Light” display in several other locations, but this one display was created just for the Desert Botanical Garden. It is a reinterpretation of cooling pots made by native people hundreds of years ago. This is the inside….looks like crystals to me.
The was also the “Beacon” a radiating dome…much bigger than it looks, it’s probably about 10′ high and it changes colors too!…with small curly hairlike fiber optic lights set into what looks like glass tubes. And what about those Water Towers? What did they look like at night? Like this!If you were up close…they still looked clear and more white, a lot less color But if you backed away….they lit up the night with color!Taking one last look before we left. A perfect way to end the evening!
The Sonoran Light display is not there anymore as I visited in February 2016….but if you visit Phoenix, Arizona before May 14th, 2017 you can see the Desert Botanical Garden Butterfly exhibit. They also have concerts, workshops and many other special events scheduled throughout the year. It’s worth checking out if you are in the area.