Fast forward a couple of years and I was fortunate enough to experience a proper American Christmas…carols in the snow, larger than life decorations and festive spice for everything (which is gross). There my expectations of wandering the festive gardens have been set and I had to prepare myself mentally for anything I am going to see locally again.
So, up comes Garden of Lights at Emperor’s Palace. I figured big multi-national hotel chain and entertainment company celebrating season festivities with lights…this will be awesome. We pre-booked tickets online for the 20:30 slot…nearly missing out all together, cause they were selling out fast.
We all agreed to meet for a drink, a bite to eat and a quick whirl though the crafters market, preparing our senses for what we are to experience later on. We then took a leisurely stroll to the area sign-posted to the Garden of Lights. Dodging the cars and really feeling our way through the crowds of kids and people obviously there for the same reason. When we arrived, the hoards of people were funnelled and barricaded on the tarmac. This was not Christmassy or festive at all.
We eventually made it to the front, only to discover, that cattle-to-the-slaughterhouse-feeling is continued throughout the entire garden. There were almost no photo opportunities, since you can barely create enough space between you and the people around you to have a decent photo.
The lights itself was merely okay with the highlights being the flashing Christmas tree and Olaf in the distance. Admittedly, a lot of effort has gone into the whole setup, but I can’t help but feel disappointed by the experience as a whole. I have seen more extravagant lighting setups and choreographed numbers on Youtube at people’s private houses.
Perhaps I did not manage my expectations after all, but I was gracefully saved by the awesome people I went with and the ice-cream I got on my way home. Perhaps if I was 5 years old again, it would have been fine, but I pity the parents who may have to pretend-smile, ice-cream in one hand and say it is all be okay.
If nothing else, the proceeds are donated to CANSA and the Peermont Children’s and Education Funds. I will however, support Jacaranda Children’s home in future instead.
Tickets are R25 per person and running to 3 January 2018.
They will be open daily from 19h00 – 22h00 weather permitting.