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Longwood Gardens gets into the holiday spirit


Longwood Gardens adds some sparkle to the holiday with lighted fountains, a rainbow of poinsettias and twinkling Christmas trees. [courtesy of Longwood Gardens]

It’s almost the season to enjoy caroling, candy canes, Christmas trees and the Longwood Gardens’ holiday light show, which adds a merry twinkle to December’s dreary days. A Longwood Christmas, which was named the best holiday botanical light show by USA Today in 2018, takes place from Nov. 22 to Jan. 5, 2020, and the gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, pull out all the stops—including 500,000 twinkling lights, colorful fountains that rival Italy’s most celebrated waterworks, and magnificently adorned trees with glistening icicles and elegant, ivory orbs.

This year’s theme is the shapes of the season, inspired by traditional favorites such as poinsettias, pine cones, snowflakes and icicles.

“For many, it’s a holiday  tradition. Families get their pictures taken in the same spot every year, and there’s something for everyone, from concerts to carolers to Christmas tree displays,” said Patricia Evans,  Longwood Gardens communications director.

Gardening and conservation were passions of founder and industrialist Pierre S. du Pont. In 1906, du Pont bought Peirce’s Park — future home of Longwood — to rescue its trees from the lumber yard chopping block, then he transformed the arboretum into a horticultural showplace.

Du Pont loved Christmas and threw holiday parties for his employees starting in 1921. After his death in 1954, the first public Christmas display was in the conservatory in 1955. The first outdoor display was added in 1962 and featured three evergreens with lights, which roughly 1,000 guests drove around the parking lot to see. Last year, 468,000 people visited the displays during the 45-day event, Evans said.

Thousands of poinsettias, amaryllis, fragrant paperwhites, roses and other floral finery fill Longwood’s 4-acre, glassed-in conservatory. Living wreaths fashioned from plants including orchids to cactuses, and trees made from various plants bring a cheerful spirit to the conservatory’s 20 gardens.

This year, the conservatory’s Exhibition Hall features a handcrafted, 350-foot-long gold ribbon decorated with giant ornaments nestled among a forest of trees, ending in a towering Christmas tree trimmed in red, gold and silver ornaments.

Longwood Gardens is about 40 miles southwest of Philadelphia–about 90 minutes from Harrisburg and York, and an hour from Lancaster. Timed admission tickets are required for its A Longwood Christmas; admission is $30 for adults and $16 for ages 5-18.  For more information, visit longwoodgardens.org.

 

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