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Philly2Philly's Christine Tarlecki checks out Christmas at Longwood Gardens


I’ve been fortunate enough this holiday season to see many festive performances: The Nutcracker Ballet, Dickens of a Christmas and this weekend I was lucky enough to spend the evening with friends at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square.

In 1906, Pierre S. du Pont purchased the Peirce Arboretum to save its trees from being cut down for lumberChristmas at Longwood Gardens. Over the next half century, Mr. du Pont developed Longwood Gardens into what it is today, a magnificent horticultural showplace, and a wonderful place for friends and family any time of the year!

It was freezing Saturday night, but a beautiful clear night with the moon hanging like a frozen disk in the sky, and with no wind. (Note here- wear layers and warm clothes- lots of them, as well as good shoes!I) I wore 2 pairs of socks with my fuzzy boots and Under Armour under my sweater and fleece jacket and vest, along with gloves and my fuzzy hat and I felt warm enough. Plus, we were walking along the paths outside for a couple hours and inside the conservatory, so we stayed fairly comfortable.

The Outdoor Light Festival featured lit trees soaring towards the sky in all kinds of colors, especially the tree-lined lane with bright red trees, demure white lights, and colorful designs. More than a half-million lights adorn the 1,050 acre outdoor gardens, with 11,000 types of plants. The night lent itself a festive and magical air as we tripped down the paths of lights. We also found ourselves at the train display- an outdoor exhibit created with kids of all kinds in mind. Several trains ran along tracks that wound around mini-stations, bridges, waterfalls, mountains and tunnels that was exciting to see.

The Christmas Tree Route is inside the 4.5-acre heated indoor Conservatory, featuring a giant Art Nouveau tapestry  Christmas at Longwood Gardensmade from pink poinsettias and ferns. There were all kind of gorgeous plants, waterfalls and displays made the route a wonderful delight to see.

A Longwood Christmas is a celebration months in the making—with hundreds of amaryllis, cyclamen, narcissus and literally thousands of poinsettias.

One of my favorites was the huge blooms of Christmas cactuses, orchid wreaths, trees and plants. There was a hallway of bonsai trees that have been nurtured, or in training, for decades, including several from the 1920s! There was a room where all the plants smelled like honey and the Christmas trees were decorated by children from local schools. There was also the fruit room, where mini oranges were growing.

In addition to the amazing scenery, choral ensembles, dancers, and organ sing-alongs are also featured on the hour (see the schedule online for the performance you wish to see, and all are included with admission.)

Don’t forget to visit the Gardens Shop- a gift shop unlike I have never seen before! So many great items in here- ornaments, plants, scarves, soaps, plates, household items and kids’ items.

The Holiday Fountain Show was the perfect way to end our night. Located somewhat behind the entrance to the Gardens, the fountains danced merrily to beautiful Christmas music, all the while changing colors, patterns and intensity. Since we were the last group out, there was us plus a few others, so we were able to view the entire show without any obstructions. I suggest going early or later as to avoid the crowds. It was a gorgeous night to get into the holiday spirit. You could almost imagine Santa and his elves decorating the Christmas lanes for us..okay not really, but it was a great night to be out.

You can also celebrate New Year’s Eve at Longwood Gardens. Face painting, balloon artists and crafts will surprise and delight families. Enjoy hot chocolate and other tasty refreshments throughout the Gardens, and end your evening with a spectacular fireworks at 8:30 pm. The Gardens close at 10:00 pm.



Christmas at Longwood Gardens is on display until January 9, 2011.

Check out Diane Cooney's EXCLUSIVE photo gallery to the right hand side of the article!


Adults: $18 Seniors ages 62+: $15 Students ages 5-18, or any age with valid student ID: $8 Children ages 4 and under: Free

Tickets are available at www.tickets.longwoodgardens.org  or in person at Central Ticketing, or by calling 610-388-1000

Special thanks to Patricia Evans, Communications Manager at Longwood Gardens.

Longwood Gardens, Inc. is a charitable 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit corporation with a Board of Trustees overseeing the successful operation of the Gardens.

Christine Tarlecki can be reached at engchik@comcast.net  , and on FaceBook, and at http://engchik.blogspot.com  , and on Twitter under engchik.