Worth the Ticket? Astra Lumina NYC at Queens Botanical Garden

Take an evening stroll through the stars in this immersive nightwalk

Something otherworldly is glowing inside the Queens Botanical Garden. And step lively, because the ethereal illumination won’t be in this borough for long. 

Astra Lumina NYC is a combination light show/concert/modern art exhibition for all ages. 

The exhibition poses a question: “We’re always told to reach for the stars, but what if the stars could reach for us?” The answer is given in a mile-long multimedia excursion with projections and astral choirs. As an avid fan of holiday lights and starry nights, I decided to bring a friend to see for myself if the nightwalk is as illuminating as advertised. 

astra lumina nyc
 Just a 15-minute walk from the last stop on the 7 train...10 minutes at a city pace.

It’s a balmy 32 degrees on the evening that we arrive at the garden, and I’ve already activated two heat pack hand warmers. But the frigid weather doesn’t chill our enthusiasm. Quick tip: this is an outdoor December experience. Make sure to wear several layers, so you can enjoy the night walk without extra shivers. 

A Starry Bar: Drinks at Astra Lumina

Before beginning our ascent into the heavens, we decide to first head to the Astra Lumina bar to grab a warm drink. We both choose the Snow Angel, a Chambord hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and purple star sprinkles. It’s delicious and brings a welcome hit of warmth to the start of our journey. 

astra lumina nyc
Who can say no to starry sprinkles? Not I. 

Other cocktails available at the Astra Lumina bar include the Solar Flare, a spicy hot chocolate made with Herradura Tequila and cayenne pepper, and the Shooting Star, a sweet combo of Chambord, Korbel Brut, and “sparkling star dust.” The bar also offers beer, wine, spirits, soda, and hot chocolate. We follow up our hot chocolate with a Shooting Star cocktail, and after filling up on glittery star dust, we feel well-prepared for a nighttime jaunt through some celestial gardens. 

astra lumina nyc
Your guided tour of the stars

A Walkable Tour Through the Cosmos

The entrance to Astra Lumina previews ten different segments of the nightwalk. The tour begins in the Astra Archway, which emanates blinking rainbow lights and ethereal melodies. Past the archway, we make our way down a path to the second segment, the Starlight Lanterns. Each one offers viewers a different glowing message, while casting patterns of light across the grass. We catch murmurs of awe from those around us, as the music and light weave together.

astra lumina nyc
“Welcome stargazers, to an extraordinary place…"

We continue to the Falling Stars, a tall cylindrical monolith humming and shooting lights upward, downward, and in circles at building speeds. We stop to watch the spectacle, a quick 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Each segment of the Astra Lumina experience has a sign detailing its length from beginning to end, so you won’t miss out on any delicate sounds or beams of light.

Next comes the Cosmic Choir, a “celestial symphony of falling stars.” The falling stars are glowing orbs hanging in the trees that shimmer in color as the music grows and fades. The music of Astra Lumina is peaceful and poignant. One moment, it includes voices; another, the intonation of animals; and yet another, instrumentals. Each part of the walk is a complement to the next. I find myself moved by the marriage of light and symphony, and how it evokes both the feeling of being small and also the feeling of being part of something vast. 

astra lumina nyc
Welcome to Orby’s | Image by Bruno Aiello Destombes

Next we arrive at the Celestial Trail, my favorite part of the starry trip. We pass through a forest of dozens of lights that shoot up from the ground, blinking, shifting, and changing colors in tandem with the music. A sign tells us to “immerse” ourselves in the “flowing force of astral energy.” After my friend and I reach the end of the path, we turn to watch it all over again. You can take as much time as you want in each section, enjoying loop after loop of superlunary spectacle. 

astra lumina nyc
Brings new meaning to the name ‘City of Lights’ | Image by Bruno Aiello Destombes

We’ve made it past the halfway point as we reach Stellar Visions, a huge circular video projection, showcasing fallen stars as they journey through the galaxy. The celestial bodies explode through the skies, as the soundtrack comes to an epic crescendo before burning into silence, only to start again.

The last visions include a giant, spinning, color-changing disco ball, thousands of tiny pink lights projected through the trees onto passers-by, and tall luminous glowing pipes that twinkle with melody. Of course, the experience isn’t complete without a photobooth and gift shop to help commemorate your nighttime star walk, and Moment Factory has warm swag available. They take regular old Earth money. 

astra lumina nyc gift shop
Fleece, blankets, beanies, gloves—you’ll want one of each.

Take the Trip or Skip?

Produced by creative studio Moment Factory, Astra Lumina NYC is the 19th in the Lumina Night Walks series, following eighteen other exhibitions across the world. Notably, this is also the first time Queens Botanical Garden has offered an immersive like this one inside its gates. If you’re a lover of holiday lights or an avid stargazer, Astra Lumina is positively stellar. Fair warning, you’ll want to bundle up well or wear a space suit, as the entire experience is outdoors in the icy cold of the third rock from the yellow star.

42-80 Crommelin St., Queens, 718-886-3800,

Due to popular demand, Astra Lumina New York has been extended through March 17th, 2024.

Tickets prices can vary on off-peak nights, but the basic range is:

  • Adult (13+): $41
  • Child (4-12): $29
  • Senior (65+) / Reduced: $36
  • VIP Admission: $65
  • Family Bundle (3+ tickets, max. 2 adults): $32
  • Group Bundle (min. 8 tickets): $35

Hours and days vary, check the website for specific dates.

About the Author

Sarah Lasko is an NYC-based actor and SEO content writer specializing in writing for the arts, events, social media, and technology. She has performed on stages across North America and Europe, as well as in national commercials, voiceover, and film. Sarah recently celebrated her 10-year anniversary of living in New York, and she's proud to finally be able to call herself a New Yorker.

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