Flowers and lights come together to make a dreamland

Photo by Andre Vandal

The Botanical Gardens dresses in lights for Montreal’s annual Gardens of Lights classic

The Chinese’s Garden scenery is composed of countless lanterns coming straight from Shanghai. By Andre Vandal on Flickr

Summer is ending, winter is coming, and our collective interest in outdoorsy activities is diminishing slowly but steadily.  To end this season of terrace-drinking, park-reading and sunny day moments, the Botanical Gardens dressed itself up to get you out of your comfy and warm cocoon one last time before Montreal solemnly puts its white coat on. From Sept. 9 to Nov. 2, Botanical Gardens’ Gardens of Lights is taking place. A new lighting design in the Japanese Garden pleasantly complements the annual autumnal classic of “The Magic of Lanterns” happening in the Chinese Garden.

One part of the nocturnal exhibit is the yearly lighting of the Chinese Garden. With its array of lantern-like sculptures coming straight from Shanghai, the garden gives to its visitors the impression of being in a dream. The main scenery offered to sightseers portrays a scene of epic proportion. This overwhelming panoramic is probably one of the best-known exhibits of this its that Montreal has to offer, and for good reason.

The brand-new exhibit in the Japanese Garden differs greatly from the Chinese Garden. As some may expect, the Japanese Garden instead gives the public a relaxing place where being zen is highly recommended. To achieve that state of mind so rare to most urbanites in today’s world, the garden offers a variety of scenes. First of all, a flock of beautifully crafted paper birds welcomes you into the Japanese Garden. Following the directions given by those little origami angels, the visitors will get into what is an ordinary patch of forest by day, but becomes a still-life theater by night. With music giving the tone to a programmed light show and trees as the main protagonists, this particular exhibit gives the audience a glimpse of a world in which trees can tell their stories. A little further down the road, the visitors will find a resting point installed specifically for people in need of a simple but beautiful scenery to forget about their everyday responsibilities. You just sit on the wooden bench, listen to the soothing sound of the waterfall and look at the chromatic poetry taking place in front of you.

Coming out of a short but enjoyable stroll in the gardens, one will find themselves thinking about how singular this nature-filled haven actually stands in the center of Montreal. So few places offer this kind of retreat of all the noise and commotion of the city’s heavily populated urban area. But really, at this time of the year the Botanical Gardens become truly more than just a park-like milieu. At dusk, it becomes a labyrinth in which you can wander and lose track of time; a place that helps you craft one of those rare unforgettable moments; a fiction-like setting just there for you to fall in love with. The one negative thing about this event is that, just like the flowers acting as the canvas of the Gardens of Lights, this beautiful harmony of light and nature will fade away soon.  Everyone should grab this chance of simply dreaming a little in those phantasmagoric gardens before we get buried in snow.

Photo by Andre Vandal

Botanical Gardens’ Gardens of Light event takes place until Nov. 2. For more information, go visit the Botanical Gardens’ website:

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