Bellingrath Gardens and Home

By Wendy Campbell

This holiday season Bellingrath Gardens and Home in Mobile, Ala. has something very special planned for Christmas – another fabulous light display featured at the historical Alabama landmark.

When Magic Christmas opens on November 28 for its 13th season, visitors are in for a very special treat. Part of this year’s display will be under water. Located along the Fowl River near Mobile Bay, this year’s Magic Christmas will feature a scene called The Under Water Garden.

Guests who view this scene will feel as if they have been submerged under water into the Gulf of Mexico as they are able to view several common Gulf inhabitants including jellyfish, squid, fish, crabs, seahorses, starfish, stingrays and sea lettuce.

Bellingrath Gardens and Home was the creation of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bellingrath. Bellingrath Gardens first opened to the public in 1932.

“Mr. Bellingrath placed an ad in the local paper announcing that the gardens would be open in the spring for anyone who wanted to see the beautiful flowers planted by his wife,” said Leslie Schraeder of Mobile, director of market and public relations for Bellingrath Gardens and Home. So many people showed up to see the gardens the couple decided to keep the beautiful gardens open year-round beginning in 1934.”

The 65 acres of gardens feature azaleas, camellias, roses and chrysanthemums as well as other beautiful flowers in bloom.

“Spring features our azaleas,” Schraeder said. “Then tropical flowers bloom in summer and we have beautiful cascading mums in autumn.”

Visitors can also tour the Bellingrath Home complete with its original furnishings and Mrs. Bellingrath’s extensive antique and decorate art collection. Built in 1935, the 10,500 square foot home is a delight for all to see.

In addition to touring the home and gardens, visitors can take a 45 minute cruise along The Fowl River aboard The Southern Belle. While relaxing guests learn about birding habits, ecological systems and the civil war history of the area. The Southern Belle departs daily from Bellingrath Gardens and Home between March and November.

Schrader says this year’s Magic Christmas really will be something to see.

“It is going to be something truly unique this year,” Schraeder said. “The Underwater Garden was inspired by the Gulf of Mexico. The scene will be set up along the Bamboo forest and will feature 180 degrees of lights with waves and schools of fish. This new scene added 200 new pieces. This year Magic Christmas will feature over 3 million twinkling lights and 835 set pieces in 12 major scenes throughout the 65 acres.”

The Under Water Garden was designed specifically for Bellingrath by Clare Graham, designer and former Disneyland Imagineer with Bellingrath staff handling all of the construction for the new project.

This year’s Magic Christmas features 12 major scenes including: Butterflies in Flight, Peace on Earth, Toyland, Critter Cove, Nativity, Over the Rainbow, The Emerald Forest, Candyland, Flower Walk, Lotus, T’was the Night Before Christmas and The Under Water Garden.

In addition to the light display, various choral groups will be performing during Magic Christmas.

There are various price packages available to tour the gardens, home or to take the river tour. For more information about price packages, Magic Christmas or other special events call 1-800-247-8420 or go to