Haul out the holly… or 500,000 lights, 55,000 ornaments, 2,003 poinsettias, and 142 sparkling trees. The most wonderful time of the year is here! This month, I headed to Longwood Gardens for their annual French-inspired Christmas Spectacular, A Longwood Christmas. This was my first visit to the Pennsylvania must-see, and it was, in a word, magnifique.
I knew I was in good company as I browsed the cookbooks, Christmas ornaments, succulents, and candles in the GardenShop, a mere teaser for what was to come. As I headed outside, I took in perfectly-manicured topiaries, beneath the twinkle of nearby string lights that brought bare branches to life.
Making my way into the Conservatory, it was easy to see what all the fuss was about. Floating apples and cranberries (pictured) took center stage in a unique display that captivated the attention of everyone from the smallest children to doting grandparents. Bright poinsettias competed for attention with birds of paradise, and luminous Christmas trees were far from the only seasonal splendor.
Fir trees were decked in reds, golds, blues, and silvers, and parterre gardens brought a quiet sereneness to the space that was reminiscent of a distant paradise. Outdoors, the decorations were no less striking. The evening sky was lit up by radiant branches and crackling fires. (Hot chocolate, anyone?) The magic continued with a fountain show, where water and lights danced along to classical favorites in perfect rhythm.
If you’re looking for a fun way to celebrate the season, this is it. I was amazed by the beauty and intricacy of each display, and the kindness of everyone I encountered was fitting. In addition to the indoor and outdoor displays, A Longwood Christmas features carolers, choral concerts, organ sing-along and much more. You could easily spend a day, but make sure you stay until it gets dark to make the most of the outdoor lights, which begin to come on at 3:30 pm.
Here are a few more tips to keep in mind before you go:
- Tickets should be purchased in advance online for a specific date and time (try to go on a non-peak day when the gardens are less busy).
- Bundle up! Layers recommended.
- Save your appetite. Longwood boasts a fabulous fine dining restaurant in addition to a café, beer garden and various concessions.
A Longwood Christmas was a welcome reminder of all there is to celebrate in the coming months. It’s on display until January 7th, so mark your calendar, pack up your tots and loved ones, and make a day of it!
A Longwood Christmas: https://longwoodgardens.org/events-and-performances/events/longwood-christmas