Every year the Desert Botanical Garden creates magic in the garden with Las Noches de las Luminarias. This year the spectacular event not only included glowing luminarias and excellent entertainment but also the beauty of Chihuly in the Garden sculptures along the garden trails.
As visitors crossed the metal bridge leading into the garden, the Chihuly “Desert Towers” glimmered in the waning light. Beyond the sculpture the members of Mariachi Pasion played lively Christmas music.
Visitors patiently waited in lines for the gates to open on their night of magic in the garden. The sun sent out its last rays as it set behind Barnes Butte in the distance.
As they entered the garden, visitors crowed around the Chihuly “Sapphire Star” to get some great photo opportunities. Others walked through the Ottosen Entry Garden to look at the “Blue Fiori Sun” and the “Citron and Yellow Fiori” or wandered to the Desert Wildflower Loop Trail.
The “Scarlet Asymmetrical Tower” and the “Yellow Asymmetrical Tower” act as bookends to the entrance to the Desert Discovery Loop Trail. People stream between them on their way to see more of the Chihuly sculptures and to hear the various musical entertainment positioned along the garden trails.
In the Steele Herb Garden, Flamenco guitarist Chris Burton Jacome serenaded visitors. The huge statue “St. Earth Walking” loomed next to his group and the “Yellow Herons” sparkled in the plants behind the audience.
The huge “Summer Sun” blazed just off the Desert Discovery Trail behind the enormous cardon cacti. Further along the trail, a beautifully decorated Christmas tree stood by the bell at the steps leading to Webster Auditorium. On the Ullman Terrace, Traveler performed their festive “world fusion music.”
The hike up the Sonoran Desert Trail brought views of the lights in the Valley, and additional Chihuly creations among the desert plants. At the very top of the trail, the stories and music of Estun-bah an Apache word translated to “For the Woman” drifted up from the Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail. Tony Duncan, who played the Apache cane flute, shared his story of planning to teach his two-year-old son to play the flute. He said he wanted to name his son Tony, Jr., but his father got the honor of picking the name, so his son is named Naiche after chief Naiche, the son of Cochise and who also rode with Geronimo.
Walking along the People & Plants of the Sonoran Desert Trail, “White Belugas” sculptures nestle among the arms of a fallen saguaro skeleton. Visitors also see the “Sonoran Boat” as its beautiful colors reflect on the pond’s surface, and a number of “Blue Crystals” float in the water across from the boat.
Further along the trail, at one of the Native American shelters, Porangui mesmerized his audience with the enchanting sounds of his didgeridoo. He explained the instrument was made from the stem of the flower that grows from the agave.
On the other side of the trail, visitors again hear the Apache stories and music of Estun-bah. And as they wind down to the end of the trail, the magnificent “Scarlet and Yellow Icicle Tower” rises from the desert floor along the trail. Visitors stop to snap a photo of the exquisite sculpture before they exit the trail and head back onto the Desert Discovery Loop Trail.
Some visitors head to the Boppart Courtyard to hear the bell ensembles. Inside Dorrance Hall visitors can dine or peruse a separate room containing a Christmas tree, a poinsettia centerpiece and add their memories to the wall containing “75 Years of Desert Botanical Garden Memories.”
Back on the Desert Discovery Loop Trail, more of Chihuly’s sculptures gleam in the luminarias glow. Inside the Sybil H. Harrington Succulent Gallery, a huge, colorful chandelier, the “Polyvitro Chandelier and Tower,” hangs from the metal beams of the structure and nestles among the plants and succulents.
In the center of the Stardust Foundation Plaza, the “White Tower and Erbium Fiori” glint and sparkle from the lights trained on the sculptures. Visitors stop and examine the sculptures as they make their way from one gallery to the other.
At the Amphitheater, the Dickens Carolers sing traditional Christmas carols. They sport vintage costumes and take requests from their audience.
The magic of the night ended at 9:30 p.m. when the luminarias got snuffed out, the lights got turned off and the garden reverted to its sleepy, desert appearance. It was almost like a fairy tale!
© 2013 Janice Semmel