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Illumine 2020

April 23, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - May 3, 2020 @ 10:30 pm

We have canceled this year’s Illumine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Refunds will be available to ticketholders. However, we hope you will consider foregoing your refund and donating the cost of your ticket to Historic Oakland Foundation.

As a nonprofit, Historic Oakland Foundation depends on revenue from events like Illumine to fulfill our mission to preserve, restore, enhance, and share Oakland Cemetery. When we have to cancel an event, it can be a big financial blow for us.

If you’d like to donate the cost of your ticket, you don’t need to reach out to us. If you’d like a refund, please email by April 30.

Thank you for your interest in attending Illumine and for your support of Oakland Cemetery. We rely on all of our friends and supporters to care for this treasured Atlanta landmark. 

Oakland Cemetery comes alive again this spring with Illumine, its annual after-dark arts spring event. Wander through all-new displays set against the inspiring backdrop of Atlanta’s skyline.

This year’s expanded event will focus on the cemetery’s newly restored historic African American Burial Grounds and Women’s Comfort Station, highlighting the lives of the men and women who created them, managed them, and whose stories they tell. You’ll also be able to meander through the history and beauty of Oakland’s beautiful springtime gardens near the main gate and on Bell Tower Ridge: the cemetery’s most mature Victorian gardens.

About the event

A self-guided experience, Illumine 2020 will use light, shadow, sound, and texture to share the stories of Black Atlantans who built and shaped the city from its origins as a railroad crossing to its arrival as a global city while persisting against unequal treatment and legalized discrimination.

You’ll discover how an investigation of Oakland’s now-unmarked graves shines a light on 19th century African American burial practices, how Oakland’s physical landscape was wrought by the class and racial issues of the day, and how the photography of Victorian-era luminary Thomas Askew unveils a rich tableau of middle and upper-class African American life in Atlanta. You’ll see dozens of artistic displays throughout the cemetery including lanterns, light-boxes, illuminated headstones, mausolea, and botanicals as well as archival images and projected film.

Illumine will also feature live music, craft cocktails, and an Oakland pop-up shop.

Illumine 2020 Dates

Illumine 2020 takes place on the following evenings. Each evening of Illumine 2020 has a limited number of tickets to ensure the best experience for each visitor. Buy your tickets in advance to guarantee that you can experience Illumine 2020.

  • Friday, April 24
  • Saturday, April 25
  • Thursday, April 30
  • Friday, May 1
  • Saturday, May 2
  • Sunday, May 3 (Regular admission or Illumine + Behind-the-Scenes Tour)

Note: Historic Oakland Foundation is monitoring the COVID-19 situation, and as of now, we are planning to hold our event as planned. If we are forced to cancel the event, we will issue refunds to all ticket holders.


  • Adults: $20 advance / $25 at the gate*
  • Students, Children, Seniors (65+): $15 / $20 at the gate*
  • Children 3 and Under: Free
    *Plus taxes and fees

Illumine + Behind-the-Scenes Tour, Sunday, May 3

Gain behind-the-scenes access to Illumine with a special tour of the history that inspired the event! Tours led by some of the creative minds behind Illumine 2020 will walk guests through two centuries of Atlanta history, detailing the lives of the men and women that built and grew the city. Guests will also learn about the process of creating the installations that light up Oakland Cemetery once a year and find out more about the artists that bring the event to life.

Guests attending the behind-the-scenes tour will arrive at Oakland at 6:30 p.m., one hour before the general public. Following the tour, they will be invited to view Illumine in its full splendor, which is only visible after sunset (around 8:15).

Cost: $30. Max. 150 people.

Know Before You Go

  • Advanced tickets are a better value and are strongly encouraged for faster entry to the Cemetery as well as to ensure that you can attend on your preferred day.
  • First entry is at 7:30 but this is an evening event, and you’ll be able to enter until 10:00 p.m. If you do come in before sunset we strongly encourage you to stick around until after the sun sets (around 8:15).
  • General Admission tickets purchased at the gate are subject to a $5 walk-up fee.
  • Illumine is a rain-or-shine event.
  • Ticket price does not include tax or fees.
  • Weapons of any kind are prohibited.
  • With the exception of service animals, pets are not allowed at Illumine.
  • Illumine’s route covers approximately one mile of roads and historic pathways. Although there are no steps on the route, historic gutters, slopes, and brick walkways might make experiencing Illumine 2020 difficult for those with limited mobility. If you are unsure if Illumine 2020 is suitable for you, contact Mary Fernandez at to discuss your particular circumstances.

Dinner Deals at Local Restaurants

Ticket holders will receive a significant discount at nearby restaurants:

  • Tin Lizzy’s: 10% off at Tin Lizzys Grant Park (dine-in only.)
  • Firepit Pizza: 20% off (dine-in only)

Illumine FAQs

What time is Illumine?
Entrance to Oakland Cemetery for Illumine 2020 begins at 7:00 p.m., and last entrance is at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 23, Thursday, April 30, and Sunday, May 3 and at 10:30 p.m. on Friday, April 24, Saturday, April 25, Friday, May 1, and Saturday, May 2. Illumine ends one hour after the last entry.

Please have your ticket (printed or on your phone with your screen set to its brightest setting) ready when you arrive at Oakland Cemetery’s main gate to speed-up entry to Illumine 2020.

What if it rains?
Illumine is a rain or shine event, and tickets are non-refundable; valid only for the date selected at the time of purchase. In case of serious inclement weather forcing an evening to be canceled, ticket-holders will be notified of how to transfer their ticket to another evening.

Is Illumine a guided walking tour?
No, unlike Oakland Cemetery’s walking tours, Illumine is a self-guided experience throughout Oakland Cemetery’s original Six Acres, Bell Tower Ridge, historic African American Burial Grounds, and portions of East Hill, including the newly-restored Women’s Comfort Station. As the sun sets, lights transform the cemetery, highlighting previously unseen elements of Oakland’s landscapes, gardens, and history.

The route will be illuminated, and visitors are asked to please stay within the designated route.
When you arrive at Illumine you will receive a route map. Additional Illumine 2020 content—including some more detailed history—will be available through the Oakland website and Instagram feed during the event.

I attended Illumine 2019. What’s different this time?

In response to last year’s success, we’ve expanded the program to include two weekends, April 23-25 and April 30-May 3. We’ve also moved this year’s entry time forward to ensure that visitors experience the best possible lighting to view Illumine’s installations. Illumine 2020 visits new areas of the cemetery, and includes new lighting elements from a range of Atlanta artists and lighting designers.

How do I get to Oakland Cemetery?Click here for directions to Oakland Cemetery.

Where should I park?
Limited charged parking will be available in the Oakland lots on Martin Luther King Dr and Grant Street. Please consider other means of transportation including MARTA (the King Memorial station is a very short walk from the main gates of Oakland Cemetery), rideshare apps, or taxis.

What should I wear?
Dress appropriately for this outdoor walking experience and wear appropriate footwear for Oakland’s historic walkways.

Is Illumine family-friendly?
Absolutely. We encourage families and friends to experience Oakland Cemetery together.

Are outside food or beverages allowed?
No outside food or beverages are allowed at Oakland Cemetery during Illumine. Beer, wine, and cocktails (from Old 4th Distillery), as well as soft drinks and snacks, will be available for purchase at three bars throughout the Cemetery.

Is it OK to bring my dog?
With the exception of service animals, pets are not permitted at Illumine. Because this is a nighttime event, and with large crowds expected, please leave your four-legged friend at home.

Is Oakland Cemetery cash only?
No. Cash and all major credit cards are accepted.

What time does Oakland close to prepare for Illumine?
All visitors to the park are asked to exit by 5:00 p.m. on April 22, 23, 24, 25, and 30 and May 1, 2, and 3 to allow Foundation staff to set-up for Illumine 2020.

Who benefits from Illumine?
All proceeds from Illumine (and all of Historic Oakland Foundation’s tours, programs, and events) support Historic Oakland Foundation’s mission to preserve, restore, enhance, and share Oakland Cemetery in partnership with the City of Atlanta.

How can I share my Illumine experience?
Use the hashtag #Illumine2020 and tag @oaklandcemetery to share your Illumine experience with your friends and family.



Illumine 2020 is presented by

We are grateful to the following sponsors:


April 23, 2020 @ 7:00 pm
May 3, 2020 @ 10:30 pm
Event Category:


Oakland Cemetery
248 Oakland Avenue Southeast
Atlanta, GA 30312 United States
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