INDIANAPOLIS — Despite changes caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Newfields is presenting Winterlights for a fourth year.
More than 1.5 million lights that highlight nature are on display on the grounds of Newfields, the former Indianapolis Museum of Art.
Winterlights runs through January, with the opportunity to experience the wonder of lights glittering on 100-year-old trees in the historic garden.
Because of the pandemic, the Lily House and Gift Shop are closed at night. Both are open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased online, with a specific time frame for visiting to limit the number of people and allow for social distancing.
The wearing of face masks is required.
A staple of the annual display since its inception is the Landscape of Light dancing to “The Nutcracker,” with the historic Lilly House as the backdrop.
New this year, Huckleberry Funk’s cover of Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” has been added to the Landscape of Light.
As the sound of music fills the air, the lights go into action. They blink, dim and change colors as they sweep across the gardens in tempo with the music.
Merriment abounds with the re-imagined Whimsical Terrace. The wooded backdrop along the main path will become a tapestry of color, inspired by the aurora borealis.
Indianapolis resident Michael Fischer was experiencing Winterlights for the first time on opening night for members Thursday.
Fischer said he has visited Newfields many times, deciding to visit this year because his wife wanted to attend.
He was looking forward to the tour of the grounds after partaking of a similar experience in Atlanta.
“A city is a confined area, it’s the job of a museum to create some experiences,” Fischer said. “The holiday season is a chance to break out of normal living.”
Eve Earley of Indianapolis also was visiting Winterlights for the first time.
“I decided to come this year to get into the holiday spirit,” she said. “I was impressed with HarvestFest, and this is a fun place to come.”
Unlike most traditional holiday light displays that feature Santa Claus, snowmen, reindeer and animated toys, the Winterlights exhibit puts Mother Nature in the forefront.
During the first year, there were 1 million lights spread throughout the grounds, and that number has increased on an annual basis.
A highlight is the “Ice Storm Walk,” where the lights move to stimulate an ice storm with appropriate sound effects to enhance the experience.
As soon as visitors begin the walking tour, the aroma of logs burning on an open fire fills the air, adding to the welcoming atmosphere.
The museum staff set up five different areas of display, taking advantage of the natural terrain and the design of the gardens.
The lights were put in place by arborists to avoid possible damage to trees.
After crossing the bridge, you’re tempted to look around the landscape at the lights covering trees and suspended from limbs high in the air.
The tour takes you to the Frosted Forest, where there is a display of lights that bring the trees to a dazzling brilliance.
Along the way, there are places to purchase hot cocoa and apple cider (with an option to add an adult beverage), while Girl Scouts sell s’mores to be cooked over a campfire.
It takes 60 to 90 minutes to walk through the lighted garden.