Longwood Gardens Bedazzles Itself in Holiday Lights

At Christmas, Longwood Gardens gleefully bedazzles itself with colored lights and whimsy. Adults can become kids again and kids may simply just be, living in the moment and delighting in the wonder of it all.

Whether you’re in the Conservatory or walking outside in one of the many gardens, colorful arrangements of lights and trees provide a festive backdrop, inviting you to enjoy the spectacle or take a selfie.

Our timed ticket allowed us entry between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. — we arrived closer to 2:30. Getting there early isn’t a bad idea — explore the Conservatory in the daylight, when you can appreciate the true colors of the multitude of poinsettia and other plants.

We headed first to the Conservatory, where unique permanent collections provide beautiful texture and a backdrop for the dramatic holiday displays.

A meandering central water feature made up of waterfalls, pools, and fountains adds sound and motion to this dynamic garden.

Starting from the Exhibition Hall tree and tumbling down along the Fern Floor, the ribbons seemed to playfully interact with the trees and oversized ornaments.

I particularly enjoyed the room of Christmas trees decorated by local students.

Everywhere we looked, there were thoughtfully arranged displays, and plenty to enjoy. Because we went on a weekday — deliberately so to avoid the worst crowds — it honestly wasn’t terribly crowded.

There were a variety of Christmas trees in various venues around the Conservatory — often eliciting squeals of surprise from children coming upon them. The adults of course smiled and considered how to adapt some of the decorating ideas for their own trees at home…

Bromeliads sit regally atop mirrored triangular containers in the Cascade Garden, where oversized glass balls dangled from the ceiling.

I loved the different colors of the poinsettias. No dull red ones from Home Depot were there!

Oh, and the orchids — lovely in any season, and so worth a stop to appreciate their wild colors and shapes.

After wandering around the Conservatory, we wrapped ourselves up in our coats, scarves and gloves, and headed outside.

We decided to go catch a late afternoon offering of the fountain show, set to holiday music favorites. I thought it would be fun to photograph it in both daylight and lit up in lights.

Make sure you take time to catch at least one of the fountain shows — different Christmas music is played at each show and the fountains dance to the music. Since its 1914 Garden Party debut, this Italian-style outdoor theater has expanded from its simple original fountains to the 750 jets that create a lovely curtains of water.

After enjoying the fountains, we headed up to the Cafe for a snack and a coffee before the lights came on around 4 p.m. There’s also pub fare — a variety of pizzas, and burgers and sandwiches — in the Beer Garden, and hot chocolate, cookies and donuts near the Train Garden.

As we headed out of the Cafe, dusk was falling. We lingered at the Train Garden a bit — I couldn’t resist enjoying a hot chocolate — before heading down to the Meadows, where we started our exploration of the lights displays.

After walking around the various gardens, we headed back to the Conservatory to both warm up and enjoy it with the lights. The lighting had changed, obviously, from the late afternoon. Almost the only lighting was the holiday lights, so deep shadows lurked, but it made the gardens seem even more magical.

In front of the Conservatory was a great location to enjoy the light show in the sunken garden below, and we stood with everyone else as the lights danced to the music.

Know before you go #1: Wear warm clothing that is easy to take on and off. You’ll be both inside and out during your exploration of a Longwood Gardens Christmas, so dress accordingly.

Know before you go #2: For more tips for visiting Longwood Gardens Christmas, check out http://longwoodgardens.org/visit/christmas-visiting-tips

Getting there: Longwood Gardens is located at 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348. If your GPS does not recognize the 1001 Longwood Road address, try 399 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348.

Hours: Open everyday (apparently even Christmas Day) 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.; a Longwood Christmas runs through January 5 2020; check website for hours as these may change. Entry is via timed tickets, so be sure to check availability before heading there.

Website: http://longwoodgardens.org/

Can’t get enough of the holidays? Check out the great holiday season activities we’ve already written about!