Approaching Magnolia Plantation and Gardens at night through the gates, you can tell you’re in for a treat at the “Lights of Magnolia” exhibition. Over the treetops and through the underbrush, you see your first glimpse of the brilliant lights in colors too numerous to mention.

Entering the festival grounds, the evening explodes in color and sound. The lights’ reflections wash over faces of patrons walking the garden paths. The light dances along ponds and through the eyes of children who seem lost in the display.

An easy walking trail guides you first along a cast of characters, followed by flowers and fauna taller than your head. Then you meet huge butterflies and ladybugs, pandas and peacocks. Turn a corner and you find a kaleidoscope from the animal kingdom featuring playful lions, stoic zebras and tigers so vivid they seem real.

Finally, the tour returns to fantasy, placing you face-to-face with a 200-foot-long dragon whose majestic head soars more than 45 feet in the air. The entire dragon’s body is made of “scales” but looking closely you see more than 26,000 porcelain china plates held together by thread (and imagination.)

This article was originally published in our sister publication, Charleston Currents.

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