Brookgreen Summer Lights Festival Brings Historic Chinese Craft to the Lowcountry

Visitors to Brookgreen Gardens this summer will be treated to a display of larger than life illuminated silk sculptures. The flora and fauna of the Lowcountry will be displayed through hundreds of “lanterns” in 17 separate scenes in the tradition of extravagant Chinese Lantern Festivals.

The Brookgreen Summer Lights Festival is scheduled to run Wednesday through Saturday nights from May 24 to Aug. 19 in Brookgreen’s Lowcountry Zoo. The huge sculptures are made of silk stretched on frames, among them horses, otters, alligators and dragon flies, as well as giant lanterns that resemble native flowers. One display will feature a huge field of dandelions made from recycled water bottles.

The lanterns are beautiful to see during the day but stunning at night when they’re all lit up,” said Brookgreen Gardens Marketing Director Lauren Joseph. “It’s really fantastic. It’s a beautiful exhibit and just an amazing technique they use to make these huge pieces of art. It’s just going to be fun.”

This exhibit was made specifically for Brookgreen,” she added. “Many similar festivals focus on Chinese culture. We wanted to focus on the natural aspect of the Lowcountry. You won’t see this exhibit anywhere else.”

During the day, visitors will be able to view the display for the price of admission to Brookgreen. From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., the exhibit will be a separate ticketed event – $20 for adults and $15 for children, with a discount for Brookgreen Gardens members. In addition to the lanterns being lit up, the nighttime show will include food trucks, live music, games and crafts.

It will be family-friendly, a lot of fun and the kids will love it,” Joseph said. “Even if you can’t get your teenagers to go anywhere else with you, they will love this.”

The Summer Light Festival will be the highlight of the summer months, but it certainly won’t be the only thing going on at Brookgreen Gardens, a Lowcountry icon since 1931. For instance, the Cool Summer Evening Concert Series, a popular event for years, will continue with a few modifications. It’s moving to Sunday evenings, from May 27 through Aug. 19. Held on the Concert Lawn, a variety of music will be featured, from folk to bluegrass to the ever-popular Tru Sol Band.

And, Joseph pointed out; Brookgreen is an art museum as well. In partnership with the National Sculpture Society, the Gardens will host the exhibit Richard McDermott Miller & His Circle through July 29 at the Rainey Sculpture Pavilion. Miller, a major American sculptor who died in 2004 at the age of 82, focused on the female figure and produced groundbreaking works such as “Mary Walking” and “Sandy in Defined Space.” The exhibit also will include the artwork of friends, students and other artists he influenced, and is free with garden admission.

To find out what else is going on at Brookgreen Gardens, visit or call 843-235-6000. Tickets for the Brookgreen Summer Lights Festival are available at