Last Updated on June 14, 2023

Have you ever wanted to glide through stars illuminated by the Northern Lights? To meander through rainbow-colored meadows of tulips? How about a stroll through towers of changing lights?

You can experience these magical sights in Paso Robles, CA during the “Sensorio” art installation by British artist Bruce Munro.

Light at “Sensorio”

“Sensorio” encompasses two adjacent Munro installations in the Paso Robles countryside

“Field of Lights” contains 100,000 solar-powered color-morphing globes of lights spread over several acres of rolling hillside dotted with mature live oak trees. Paths through the installation allow visitors to stroll through the enchanted fields, watch from hilltops or gaze up from the valley.

Toward the bottom of the hills of the “Field of Lights,” a short path leads around and behind a small rise to a dell filled with the “Light Towers” installation. Optic fibers illuminate circular pillars made of glass bottles, an homage to the Paso Robles wine region.

The lights magically alter their colors to a background of calming traditional African music. The towers stand about ten feet apart so viewers can amble through them like an open labyrinth, feeling the music as the tower lights slowly mutate along with the rhythm.

The “Sensorio” Experience

Bruce Munro Sensorio Field of Lights.
Bruce Munro Sensorio Field of Lights. Photo by Michele Desoer

It’s one thing to imagine “Sensorio” based upon descriptions, but it’s an entirely different thing when you experience it for yourself; you feel surrounded by, and not merely observing the art.

I visited with a small group and magical does not even come close to capturing the feeling.  For some it was like a fairy wonderland where you expect to see flittering pixies hovering above the multi-colored lighted flowers. Others felt it was like being transported to “Avatar’s” Pandora, the other-worldly planet filled with bio-luminescent marvels of nature.

For me, it was all these and more. 

The mesmerizing fields appeared out of a combination fairy tale and science fiction story. I was filled with a sense of wonder I had not experienced since childhood. It was awe-inspiring.

I wanted to stay longer than I could, simply staring as I imagined stories floating to me from the lights.

Who is Bruce Munro?

Munro is known for his expansive light artworks allowing viewers to immerse themselves in the art, engendering deep-seated feelings. His installations span the world from Australia to Sweden and from the U.K. to various locations in the U.S.

“Sensorio” is his largest project. Munro imagined this work of art after he visited Uluru, Australia and witnessed flowers that bloomed overnight after a rainstorm.

While some of Munro’s installations are temporary and event specific, “Sensorio,” which opened in 2019 as the “Field of Lights,” and has since expanded, has no current expiration date.

Munro installed “The Light Towers” in 2021.

“Sensorio’s” future plans include additional art exhibits, a hotel, and a conference center.

Where is Paso Robles?

Paso, its colloquial name, is a town at the midway point between the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. It is filled with beauty, calm, and wonders – not to mention wines, craft beers, and distilleries. The Paso Robles area is wine country and only a 30-minute drive from the Pacific Coast.

This stunning locale is more than a worthy stop for a day, two, three (or more) during a trip in the Golden State or even as a destination of its own.

When you’re not wine tasting, the town is chock-full of restaurants (including five Michelin recommended), shopping, bars (including a Tiki Bar, spirits, and wine tasting opportunities), horseback riding, balloon trips, a zoo for rehabilitating animals, and exciting community spaces.

Paso offers a range of accommodations including boutique hotels, B&B’s, short-term rentals, RV camping, and chain hotels including the most interesting Hampton Inn you’ve ever seen.

Tickets to “Sensorio”

Orbs at Sensorio.
Orbs at Sensorio. Photo by Michel Desoer

Sensorio is located at 4380 Highway 46 East, Paso Robles, CA 93446, an easy drive from town.

General Admission tickets range in price from $22 for children to $43 for adults. This ticket provides entry to view and walk through the installation as well as enjoy nightly music, a bar, and food.

However, if you can, the Terrace and Terrace + Platter tickets are worth the splurge at $87 and $112, respectively.

Terrace tickets provide access to a viewing area that hovers above the field of lights. It features comfy seating surrounding fire pits and entry includes a free drink at the Airstream Bar. The + Platter tickets include a charcuterie or crudité platter for two to share while taking in the sights.

Sensorio is open Thursday to Saturday evenings, Sundays during the summer, and Monday nights on certain holidays. Advance tickets are highly recommended as capacity is limited and of no surprise, this enchanting experience often sells out.

Author

  • Michele Desoer

    Michele Desoer is a mostly retired attorney who lives part of the year in Los Angeles and part of the year in Albufiera, Portugal. Growing up in France, Brazil and Chile, Michele loves going to places and getting to know their local culture and absorbing their history. Though she is an attorney, in her heart she always wanted to be a journalist and at age 7 wrote and directed her very first play. She is also currently working on a mystery novel that takes place in Southern Portugal.