MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WBTW) — Brookgreen Gardens is gorgeous at any time of day, but at this time of year at night, the gardens are literally sparkling. 

Nights of a Thousand Candles is one of the most beloved-holiday events in the southeastern United States. 

Hundreds of thousands of lightbulbs create a glittering scene across the gardens’ 9,000 acres, and there are more than 2,700 candles glowing, each one lit by hand every night.

“There’s over six miles of electrical cord alone,” Janet Coen, manager of public exhibits, said. “There’s tens of thousands of strands of lights. I mean, if you think about it, just 1,600 strands in Oak Allee alone. That’s 160,000 bulbs of light just in there.”

Changing out and re-lighting the candles each night is not an easy, or quick, task.

“Putting them in takes a while,” Coen said. “It takes a crew of about six people, about four or five hours to get all the candles changed.”

Setting up thousands of lights cannot just happen in the days leading up to the event. 

“Technically we start the day after Labor Day, so that is when we get into the gardens and we start wrapping trees the very next day,” Coen said. “But, we do work on it throughout the entire year.”

Last year, the event broke records with more than 75,000 people coming to experience the magic. It’s on track to break records again this year, with two more nights added to the event. 

Tickets to the event are dated, but it was not always like that. Six years ago, patrons could come to any date they wanted, but that posed a problem when Brookgreen Gardens ended up with a line seven miles long.

“One night they had over 8,000 people come, and they were lined up to Home Depot,” Coen said.

Coen said there is a reason the event is beloved by so many. It is not only stunning, but it gives people a chance to enjoy the natural beauty of the Grand Strand. 

“You’re getting into that holiday spirit when you come here, and there’s a lot to see and you’re outside in nature,’ Coen said. “It’s much better than being in the mall. Maybe at a movie where you’re out here experiencing the fresh air and the beauty of the gardens.”

Coen said if she could describe the event in one word, it would be “breathtaking.”

“Expect to be mystified, expect to be in awe of all the lights and the nature,” Coen said. “It’s a fun night. When people come here, they’re happy.”