The renowned glass sculptor Dale Chihuly returns to the Atlanta Botanical Garden with an expansive display of 19 sites, some made expressly for this show, scattered throughout the now 30-acre garden.

While you can see the sculptures during the regular daytime hours, a special treat is to visit Chihuly Nights, where you can stroll the garden through the sunset and view the transformation of the sculptures from brilliant sunlight to dazzling night lighting.

At least two laps of the garden are needed to fully appreciate this change – one prior to sunset and, of course, again afterwards. The works range from the Saffron Tower (2008), which stands like a flaming beacon at the end of the Water Mirror, to the Black and Green Striped Herons with Icicle Clusters (2015) shimmering in the reflecting pool surrounded by a myriad of orchids in the Fuqua Orchid Center.

While waiting for the sunset, grab a bite in the Petit Café or, for a more sophisticated sit-down dinner, visit the delightful Linton’s restaurant and sample dishes created by Chef Linton Hopkins.

After sunset the sculptures take on their own life as their hues deepen and brighten against the background of the darkening evening. Fern Dell Paintbrushes (2016) blazes amidst the Southern Seasons Garden.

Wander among the glowing Green Hornets and Waterdrops (2014) and Neodymium Reeds (2016) – look, but don’t touch!

Younger visitors can take an exhibit map and navigate the family through the gardens to find each sculpture. When finding a sculpture ask the kids, “Without looking at its title, what would you name it?” Look at it again in the dark, and ask, “Would you still name it the same? Do you agree with what the artist named it?”

Other conversation starters: “Can you believe all of these are made from sand? How in the world do you make these fascinating works of art from sand?” (Parent’s hint: Check out the videos showing how in the Chihuly Gift Shop.)

Who knew seeing an art exhibit could be this cool?

– Dan Ward

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