MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WBTW) — Brookgreen Gardens’ Nights of a Thousand Candles has become a holiday staple in the Grand Strand, selling out quickly.

It’s also the non-profit’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

The idea for the festival started more than two decades ago.

“Nights of the Thousand Candles actually started 23 years ago with a group of volunteers and some staff who wanted to do something for the Christmas season,” said Lauren Joseph, vice president of marketing for Brookgreen Gardens. “They said, well lets try a luminary festival and that very first year it was two nights and we had about 2,000 people come.”

What started as two nights has now turned into 21 nights where people can enjoy an exquisite light show.

“We have 2,700 candles that we hand light and a lot of people don’t think about this, but most of them we have to blow out at the end of the night too,” Joseph said.

There are also millions of lights. Nights of a Thousand Candles has now become part of families’ Christmas traditions, drawing people from all over the world.

“When we do a ZIP code study at the end we do have people from all over the country, foreign countries,” Joseph said. “We’ve had people from Spain, from the Bahamas, from Mexico, from Canada, all over.”

This year, the non-profit is on track to break at least 80,000 visitor and it’s not just all of the lights that keep people coming back.

Folks can also enjoy a variety of foods, and drink stations with hot cider or hot chocolate to keep warm.

Tickets for next year’s festival will go on sale in August on the Brookgreen Gardens website.

“Three years ago we were completely sold out by mid-December,” Joseph said. “Last year we were completely sold out by [Dec. 1] and this year, most of the weekends were sold out before Thanksgiving.”