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Winter Lights at the Rock Garden

This Event Has Passed

This page contains details for a 2019 event. Check back for updated information for the 2020 season!

Fridays to Sundays, Dec 6 to Jan 5
+ Dec 23, 30, Jan 2
6 to 9 p.m. (last admittance is 8:30 p.m.);
Rock Garden

Presented by: 

Thousands of festive lights lead you through a winter wonderland of charming Christmas melodies, festive sips and bites and the Escarpment Train Exhibit. This unique holiday experience provides a special evening for you and your loved ones to capture those perfect holiday memories!

Enjoy a leisurely winter stroll through the historic Rock Garden at night. Walk through a winter wonderland with 100,000 mini lights, 200 theatrical LED fixtures, 3000′ hanging string lights and a NEW light sculpture, “Arctic Fox” by local artist Tanis MacArthur.

Descending into the lower level of the garden (including the Escarpment Train Exhibit) includes a ~500m walk along sloped, lit pathways.

Event Tickets Required


Tickets for Winter Lights at the Rock Garden are available online, or at the door upon entering the event. Save money and time by purchasing tickets online – they can be used on a day of your choosing!

Ticket Type Ticket Price
Event Admission: pre-purchased $10 (+ HST & Service Fee)
Event Admission: at the door $15
Infant (age 0-2) FREE
  • Tickets are non-refundable and final sale.
  • General admission discounts and coupons are not applicable to this ticketed event
  • This ticketed event is separate from RBG Membership

*Operational Dates: December 6-8, 13-15, 20-23, 27-30, January 2-5

Royal Botanical Gardens is a registered charitable organization dedicated to connecting people, plants and place. By attending this event, you’re supporting our efforts in areas like plant science, conservation, horticulture and education.

Want to learn more about how you can contribute to RBG’s charitable work?

NEW! Art Installation: The Arctic Fox

The Arctic Fox installation was conceived of by Cobalt Connects, then designed and fabricated by Hamilton artist Tanis MacArthur.

The Arctic Fox lives in Canada’s coldest environment, the tundra. This small canine is well adapted to the Arctic’s frigid temperatures. Arctic Fox don’t shiver until temperatures reach -70 degrees Celsius when they will curl up in a cozy ball to maintain body heat.

Using their keen sense of hearing and smell, Arctic Fox prey on small mammals and birds which are often found beneath the snow. Putting their strong back legs to work, they launch themselves into the air and dive nose first into the snow to snag their dinner.

These three light-weight inflatable sculptures rise to approximately 4.5 metres (15 feet) and are made from the same fabric as a kite or windbreaker. Each sculpture is kept inflated by a small fan and is tethered to the ground by guidelines. LED lights give each fox a wonderous glow that make them magical in any environment.

Tanis Sydney MacArthur has been an independent costumier for performing artists for more than 20 years. She is also an interpretive dance artist, aerialist and stilt walker. She has been a member of Hamilton Aerial Group (HAG) since 2010. She creates the majority of the costuming for HAG and has also costumed Femmes du Feu, Fly With Me Aerial Dance, Steel the Sky Aerial Arts, Team T&J, Mabel Moon, Learie McNicolls, Red Betty Theatre, Aoucheva Dance Studio, Indicaba Dance Theatrics, d a d a d a n c e, Inner City Dance Company, Defining Movement Dance Company, Expressions Dance Studio, Hamilton Dance Company, MacDancers, Parahumans, Momo Dance, KSWhyte-motions, the Acromaniacs, Andrea Frolic and Artword Theatre. She placed third nationally in the Smirnoff International Fashion Awards 1994, regularly contributed original designs to Fashion Cares and served as designer and key wardrobe for the film A Windigo Tale.

Cobalt Connects is a Hamilton-based non-profit arts services organization dedicated to spurring creative ideas, spaces and practices that advance the cultural sector in Ontario. Over the past 17 years Cobalt has played in numerous fields ranging from facility development to cultural planning, public art management to film and video production, innovative research and fund development.

Currently Cobalt Connects key projects include the City of Burlington Public Art Program, theCity of Hamilton Arts Awards, Dan Lawrie International Sculpture Collection, The Music Hall, coproducing Hamilton Winterfest, strategic planning for the Grand River Champion of Champions Pow Wow, and the $26M W.A. Fisher Auditorium with the City of Barrie. Cobalt Connects is also leading one of the 6 short-listed public art projects for the James North Plaza entitled All Our Relations with Indigenous designer Angela DeMontigny and Dundas-based glass artist Paull Rodrigue.

  • Winter Lights At The Rock Couple At Campfire Eating
  • Winter Lights At The Rock Evergreen Lit At Night
  • Winter Lights At The Rock Garden Lit At Night
  • Winter Lights At The Rock Light Tunnel
  • Winter Lights At The Rock Posing Under Mistletoe
  • Winter Lights At The Rock Women On Lit Bridge

Things to Do

6 to 9 p.m.

Gingerbread Lane
MollyCake is sweetening up the holidays with a beautifully quaint gingerbread village! Marvel at the intricate details of this custom designed, baked and decorated display from this local, award-winning bakery and take the eye-spy challenge to see what you discover.

6:00, 7:00, 8:00

Warm up in the Rock Garden Visitor Centre and enjoy festive melodies by our guest entertainers. See schedule below!

6 to 9 p.m.

Escarpment Train Exhibit
This model train display takes you on a journey through four seasons of whimsical Canadian landscapes while telling the story of how railroads shaped our history. Learn more at

6 to 9 p.m.

Cozy up by the camp fire with a hot beverage surrounded by festive lights.

6 to 9 p.m.

Deer Search and Find
Can you find all of the wooden deer hiding in the garden?

6 to 9 p.m.

Home Is Where The Heart Is
Where do you call home? Visit the Rock Garden Train display in the Garden House and place your heart on the place you call home.

6 to 9 p.m.*

Pop Up Gift Shop
Need last minute gifts? Check out our pop up shop in the Visitor Centre.
*only available until December 23

Evening Entertainment

Stick around and enjoy the sounds of the holiday season! Performances begin on the hour (6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.), taking place indoors at the Rock Garden Visitor Centre.

Sophie Rusnock

December 6, 8, 13, 14
Sophie Rusnock
Enjoy beautiful harp music! Sophie has performed with a wide range of ensembles including the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and New York-based new music group Ensemble Signal.

Tinroof Performers

December 7, 29, 30, January 3, 4
Tin Roof
Tin Roof is a country/rock music duo based in beautiful Niagara on the Lake featuring Stacey Hunt and Adam Gagliardi. Enjoy crisp harmonies, wide song selection with a stripped down approach to music.

Michael Maguire

December 15, 28, January 2, 5
Michael Maguire
Michael’s journey led him to study harmony, composition and arranging with Gordon Delamont, whose books have been called the “holy grail” of modern musical theory. Finding new creative energy through his studies, Michael proudly publishes a film score for Cinron Productions. Michael creates musical magic with every performance. Familiar melodies and jazz standards instantly become new creations under his fingers and through his voice. For the adept or casual listener his music is pure delight.


December 20, 21, 27
Listen to the sounds of the season! Maximilian and Theodor Aoki are brothers from Hamilton, Ontario, and will be performing holiday music on two cellos.

Claudia and Caitlin

December 22, 23
Duet: Claudia Gennaccaro and Caitlin Collingwood
Claudia is a Russian trained ballet dancer and singer from Hamilton, Ontario. Claudia studied at the Hamilton Academy of Performing Arts focusing on classical ballet under Max Ratevossian and operatic singing under Marta Greta Kicek and David Varjabed.

Caitlin is an actor, singer, and dancer based out of Hamilton. A recent graduate of Randolph College for the Performing Arts; Caitlin is going into her second year in Sheridan College’s Honours Bachelor of Music Theatre Performance Program.

Food and Drink Menu

Grab some festive sips and bites to enjoy as you wander the garden! The team at the Rock Garden Café will be serving a rotating menu of small snacks and warm drinks available for purchase. All prices include HST.

Bites and Snacks

Warm Bavarian Pretzel with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Holiday Scones

Warm Sweet Danishes (assorted flavours)

Fresh Baked Cookies (assorted flavours)

Packaged Chips

Cold and Hot Drinks

Soft Drinks

Hot Chocolate

Coffee or Tea

Add Baileys (1 shot added to drink)

Add Loaded Topping (whipped cream with crushed candy canes)

Rock Garden at Royal Botanical Gardens

Find this event at this historic Rock Garden, 1185 York Boulevard, Hamilton ON.

Rejuvenated in 2016, the David Braley and Nancy Gordon Rock Garden respects our iconic treasure’s heritage, look and feel while celebrating the beginning of a new era with a beautiful, modern renovation.

Event FAQ

Have a question about Winter Lights at the Rock Garden? Click the topics below for more information. If you have a question that is not answered, give us a call at 905-527-1158.


Pre-purchase tickets online and save! Online tickets are valid for entry on one day of your choice. Tickets will be available at the door for an increased price. General admission discounts and coupons are not applicable to this ticketed event.

What's Included

Your ticket includes access to Rock Garden during this event, including the Escarpment Train Exhibit! Learn more about this exhibit at Your ticket is for this event only, and does not include general admission for the full day. Parking in the lot across the street from the garden is included.

Arrival / Entry Times

Doors open at 6 p.m., and the event ends at 9 p.m. You must arrive prior to 8:30 p.m. to be allowed entry. Pre-purchased tickets will be scanned upon arrival; bring your tickets either printed out or presented on your personal device.

Want to save time at the door? Visitors who pre-purchase their tickets can bypass the payment line and have their tickets scanned right away.

Directions and Parking

This event is held at Rock Garden, located at 1185 York Boulevard, Hamilton Ontario. Parking is included, available in the designated lot across the street.

Rock Garden is located along bus routs for Burlington Transit, with stops a short distance from the entrance. See for more details.

Food and Drink

Light snacks will be available for purchase from the Rock Garden Café to bring along as you walk through the garden.

This is a licensed event; some alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase for those age 19+. A valid I.D. is required for beverage purchase.

Outside food and alcohol will not be permitted.


Descending into the lower level of the garden (including the Escarpment Train Exhibit) includes a ~500m walk along sloped, lit pathways.

If you have any further questions about accessibility at this event please contact us by phone (905-527-1158) or using the form at


Descending into the lower level of the garden (including the Escarpment Train Exhibit) includes a ~500m walk along wide, paved pathways. The Escarpment Train Exhibit is located inside the Stipe Garden House at the base of the garden; this is a tighter space that can get busy. If you wish to visit this attraction as part of Winter Lights at the Rock, we ask you either leave your stroller at home, or outside with a member of your party while you spend time with the train exhibit.


With the exception of the Escarpment Train Exhibit, the entirety of this event is outdoors; dress for the weather. RBG reserves the right to cancel the event due to extreme weather.

Pets / Service Animals

With the exception of service animals, personal dogs/cats/animals are not permitted at this event.

Part of Holiday Traditions

Experience the magic this holiday season with unique Santa Experiences, festive entertainment, train adventures and Winter Lights at the Rock Garden!

Some activities require special event tickets, while others are included in your General Admission or Membership; visit for full details!