Every winter, Phipps Conservatory undergoes a transformation into a magical, winter wonderland, making this one of Pittsburghers’ favorite holiday season traditions. This year, the gardens sported whales, polar bears and other Artic-themed creatures, including the abominable snowman!
At Phipps, you’ll embark on a frozen journey where you’ll encounter an eclectic mix of holiday trees and topiaries. You’ll also find fun holiday season appropriate props in places where you least expect. And, of course, throughout the gardens, you’ll see beautiful flowers such as amaryllis, orchids and more than 1600 poinsettias mixing with the shimmering lights.
We saw dripping icicles and hanging snowflakes. The famed glass ceilings of the conservatory buildings glowed in rainbow colors. We also encountered big balls of glowing color in the outdoor gardens, constantly changing their lovely hues.
I was bemused by the whimsical narwhales and unicorn display as well as the abominable snowman carefully decorating a tree. I couldn’t help but start feeling excited about the upcoming holiday season!
Of course, there are lots of great photo ops and selfie backgrounds.
Kids seemed to love their adventure at Phipps, of course. And that’s despite being forced to take those photos mom and dad were forcing them into. They shrieked with delight at discovering the North Pole. They ran from train to train to train in the train garden room. There’s a lot there for kids — and adults!
Phipps Is More Than Just the Holiday Season
Of course, you shouldn’t just wait until the holiday season to visit Phipps. This is definitely a daytrip destination any time of the year! We visited Phipps Conservatory a few years ago, but it’s been too long!
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a public garden set in Schenley Park, not far from the campuses of Pittsburgh University and Carnegie Mellon University. Steel and real-estate magnate Henry Phipps founded the gardens in 1893 as a gift to the City of Pittsburgh.
Thus, Phipps Conservatory’s purpose is to educate and entertain the people of Pittsburgh with formal gardens and exotic plants, such as palm trees, succulents, bonsai and orchids. Currently, the facilities house elaborate gardens within the 14 room conservatory itself and on the adjoining grounds.
Phipps emphasizes that it’s gone green. Its holiday season extravaganza lights are all energy-efficient LEDs. In fact, since 2005, Phipps only uses electricity from renewable sources, including energy gathered from on-site.
Know Before You Go
There’s a nice little café at Phipps, in case you get hungry before or after your visit to the gardens. Although you can purchase timed tickets for the daytime for the Holiday Magic, you miss out on some of the magic of the lights, although you can see the plants a lot better. Holiday season pro tip: get a late afternoon entry time, go around the gardens, go eat at the café, and then go again after dark. Tickets must be reserved in advance.
Getting there: 1 Schenley Drive, Pittsburgh, PA
Hours: The Phipps Holiday Magic Winter Flower Show runs between mid-November to January 8, 2023. Operating hours vary, so be sure to check the website below.
Website: Holiday Magic
Can’t get enough of the holidays? Add these great holiday season activities to your bucket list!
There are a bunch of fun things to see and do in Pittsburgh. Check out the articles to discover great things to see and do!
- Allegheny Cemetery — COMING SOON!
- Andy Warhol Museum
- Carnegie Museums of Natural History and Art — COMING SOON!
- Frick Art Museum — COMING SOON!
- Haunted Pittsburgh
- Homewood Cemetery — COMING SOON!
- Just Ducky Boat Tour
- National Aviary
- National Aviary Animal Encounters — COMING SOON!
- Phipps Conservatory
- Pittsburgh’s Rivers, Bridges and Views
- Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium — COMING SOON!
- Three Rivers Heritage Trail
- Zoo Lights at Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium