Oh my! Imagine The Nightmare Before Christmas collides with Dia de los Muertos, while sliding into a 1950's space robot movie like Tobor the Great or Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy. Then, have it all come to life at a four acre estate in Palm Springs' glitzy Movie Colony neighborhood ever year around Christmas. Forget Desert X and its shiny mirrored house, with its non-desert artists and its non-desert management. This is real homegrown desert art, by one of its own. And it's a lot more fun than Desert X.
That's about as close as I can get to describing Robolights, the incredible world class folk art installation and quasi-holiday extravaganza that is probably the best thing in Palm Springs.
That's about as close as I can get to describing Robolights, the incredible world class folk art installation and quasi-holiday extravaganza that is probably the best thing in Palm Springs. It's something that words and photos cannot adequately describe. You really should go see for yourself, but you only have through January 2, 2019. After that date, Robolights will never open for the public again. At least, at this location.
The story goes back more than three decades as self-taught artist Kenny Irwin, began creating this magnificent installation at his father's home in Palm Springs. Homeowners in this tony neighborhood have been complaining about Robolights for years, following a long cherished tradition of rich people in Palm Springs whining about virtually everything. According to reports, the City of Palm Springs is paying Kenny $125,000 to move his unique art installation to a commercial property so the peasants won't disturb the toasty placid ennui of Movie Colony residents (to be fair, when Robolights goers parked on the local streets around the installation, they were not exactly considerate of residents either).
For the next couple of weeks, however, you can - and really should - drive to Ruth Hardy Park in Palm Springs, park your car in the park's parking lot, and walk the three blocks to Robolights. There is no price to enter, though you should contribute a donation. Plan on spending at least an hour at Robolights, and be aware that this is not a typical holiday lights display, and kids can (and do) freak. There is most definitely a macabre and even menacing aspect to Robolights, and some kids will love it and others may have a bit of a meltdown.
Robolights draws more than 60,000 attendees during the holidays, and you could visit multiple times and have a different experience each time. There are enormous inflatables, carny ride displays, a Ferris wheel or two, and plenty of found object assemblage art, including dozens and dozens of robot figures. The pool is sailed by a large inflatable pirate ship, and cattle of some sort, tread water. It's not just static visual art on display either. There are kinetic works, along with music, odd recordings, and light effects. And pigeons. Don't ask.
It is almost certainly not ADA complaint and accessible for everyone, and the strobe effects could be a no-no for some people. But if you can manage it, no matter where you may be in and around southern California, this is one, uh, Christmas display, that will stick with you for a long time to come. You'll be glad you went, and it's well worth a road trip from Los Angeles or elsewhere.
Open until January 2, 2019, 4 - 9:30 p.m. daily
1077 E. Granvia Valmonte, Palm Springs
Parking at: Ruth Hardy Park, 700 E. Tamarisk Road, Palm Springs
For more information: www.facebook.com/ROBOLIGHTS
For more information on Kenny Irwin: kenny-irwin.com