In search of wooden trolls and giant disco balls, that’s how I started my 2024. I never thought I would be hunting Thomas Dambo’s famous giant wooden trolls in a forest, but here I am. There are over 100 Dambo troll sculptures across the world. “Hidden” amongst the corners of the forest, these giant wooden trolls are whimsical and full of folklore. They evoke a sense of curiosity and lure nostalgic explorers to go troll hunting. The story behind the the folklore is that 1,000 trolls gathered for a Trolliefolkyfest, and there they discussed how to help the humans. There is a children’s book by Thomas Dambo to accompany this Denmark tale and art.
Where and What Are The Trolls?
Spun from this tale, the trolls then teach us how to be sustainable, creative, and to be curious to explore nature. The six I found are on tour, as part of a traveling exhibit. Located currently on the Palos Verdes peninsula, about 15 miles south of Los Angeles LAX airport. If you are looking for things to do in Los Angeles, definitely add this to your list. Botanical Gardens are anything but boring. I have found some of the weirdest stuff in gardens on my adventures.
The six troll sculptures can be found by map, but where’s the fun in that? Or, opt to follow the birdhouses; those are the clue to staying on the path to find them! Dambo’s giant troll art is dedicated to recycled materials and his message of kindness and saving the planet. Tucked away in groves or clearings, the sculptures varies between 13 to 60 feet. Constructed entirely of recycled wood from pallets, fallen branches and other wood pieces. The interactive exhibit is requires patience to snap a photo. Everyone wants their Instagram moment and children gleefully climb over them.
Finding More Mystery and Fantasy Unexpectedly
Ah yes. Arriving at the South Coast Botanical Garden, I realized the timing of the exhibit coincided with another event: Astra Lumina. Also part of a bigger worldwide interactive series known as Lumina, created by the Moment Factory. From the Lumina website:
“Each Lumina Night Walk is a luminous journey that reveals the exceptional beauty of a natural site. They use seamlessly integrated multimedia to immerse visitors of all ages into an imaginative world and to spark emotion. Natural sites are enhanced through an artful and innovative multimedia transformation that establishes a site’s second identity, helping to maximize the potential by extending economic activity beyond sundown.” –www.lumina.com
Orbs and Disco Balls
My search for wander and wonder led me to the right place. The sequin-like sparkle ball was a centerpiece in the garden. The contrast of the shiny, trendy icon against Mother’s Nature’s backdrop fit with the theme of incorporating yesterday’s objects into a beautiful piece of art for today. I wish I could have seen the glowing orbs suspended from the palm trees glowing at night. I passed many exhibits calling to me to “catch the stars”. After visiting just about every interactive light exhibit in a 50 mile radius, I need to add this to my list. The Lumina Astra is a night exhibit, and costs extra to attend the event.
Meeting The Trolls
I love that they are scattered through the botanical garden, and creates an adventure to seek them out. I got that slightly childlike giddy feeling. The feeling like when you creep down the stairs to see what Santa brought on Christmas morning. And discover he brought you a 60 foot troll meditating on a hill. The sculptures evoke a peaceful calm, sense of centerness, almost reverence. A blue sign introduces each troll. It shares their name, and why they are here to help save the humans. South Coast Botanical Garden offers classes that tie in to each lesson. Examples are From Trash to Treasure: Sustainable Jewelry Making; Mega Meditation Class, Whispers of Nature (Inspired by Sofus Lotus, the Listening Troll). Each class requires registration and an additional fee.