One of my favorite things to do during the holiday season is visiting the Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights at Richmond’s Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Every year, the garden offers two nights where well-behaved, leashed dogs can enjoy the sparkling stroll through the garden with their human BFF’s.

This year, on Thursday December 3rd and Thursday Jan 7th you and your pup are welcome to enjoy the festive garden. These dates will sell out quickly so reserve your tickets online ASAP! Although there is no official ticket required to bring your four-legged friend, a suggested pet admission donation of $2 will go the Richmond SPCA.

If you want to grab a bite, the Tea House offers outdoor seating—weather permitting—and also has grab-n-go fare. And you can grab a hot cocoa, coffee or sweet treat at the Espresso A-Go-Go.

Note that all dogs must be current on rabies vaccinations and retractable leashes are not allowed. Please use a regular 6-foot flat leash and keep your dog under close control. If you forget to bring an appropriate leash, you can borrow one at the Richmond SPCA table. Please also bring bags to clean up after your pup during the evening. If your pooch is used to crowds and lots of children, they will enjoy the long walk, but if you have a nervous dog—or one who is not well-socialized with other dogs in close proximity—then this may not be the event for you.

Tickets must be pre-purchased online and are in timed intervals to reduce crowd size. No walk-ups will be allowed. This year’s show—including the train exhibit—is entirely outdoors. Masks are required for all visitors—except four-legged guests—and social distancing of six feet is also mandatory.

Photo credit: [Jozy at Gardenfest by Annie Goldman]