‘Longwood Christmas’ designed to inspire awe

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'A Longwood Christmas,' which opens on Thanksgiving Day at Longwood Gardens, will spotlight a musical theme. Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens.

“A Longwood Christmas” will ring in the holiday season this year at Longwood Gardens with special resonance: A musically-inspired display debuts on Thanksgiving Day.

The annual extravaganza of lights and activities will run through Sunday, Jan. 8. Indoors and out, the gardens are offering an array of sights and sounds designed to spotlight seasonal splendor.

Poinsettias always have a starring role in 'A Longwood Christmas.'
Poinsettias always have a starring role in 'A Longwood Christmas.'

Explore the warm four-acre conservatory, bedecked with more than 50 trees decorated for the holiday season, including an 18-foot revolving tree adorned with musical instruments in the grand Music Room, and a 30-foot tree composed of more than 1,300 poinsettias, ivy, and orchids. Outside, all eyes are on the sky as illuminated stars twinkle above, colorful fountains dance to holiday music, and a half-million lights brighten the night.

Other outdoor favorites will include the illuminated Italian Water Garden, and a 10-foot Concolor fir in the Hourglass Lake Pavilion ornamented with materials found in and around the Meadow Garden. The popular Wildlife Tree will entice furry friends to nibble on edible ornaments made from wheat, apples, and birdseed. The Gardener’s Tree will cleverly showcase Longwood gardeners’ creativity with handcrafted ornaments and garland made with angel vine and burlap draping the 26–foot Concolor Norway.

If temperatures dip, three fire pits created by Longwood craftsmen and local artisans will be placed throughout the gardens, allowing guests to warm up by the fire with loved ones. The fire pits will be available every night throughout the holiday season, weather permitting.

Outdoors, the lights sometimes spill beyond the trees.
Outdoors, the lights sometimes spill beyond the trees.

In the Open Air Theatre, fountains will dance day and night to holiday classics. Young and old will delight in Longwood’s outdoor train display located near the Birdhouse Treehouse as it travels past miniature Longwood landmarks lit for the holiday season. In Longwood’s historic Chimes Tower, the 62–bell carillon will play holiday music every half hour.

Throughout the season, Longwood’s grand ballroom will feature free and ticketed holiday-inspired performances as well as daily holiday sing-alongs performed on Longwood’s grand 10,010-pipe organ. Traditional Christmas carols will ring throughout the Silver Garden and Palm House, adding to the holiday charm. A complete listing of performances is available online.

Admission to the Christmas display is only by timed tickets, which are purchased in advance for a specific date and time. Tickets can be purchased online at longwoodgardens.org. Members require tickets during peak viewing times, which are all Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from Nov. 24 to Jan. 1, and every day from Monday, Dec. 26, to Thursday, Dec. 29.

Longwood Gardens dates back to 1906, when industrialist Pierre S. du Pont purchased a small farm near Kennett Square to save a collection of historic trees from being sold for lumber. Today, it is one of the world’s great horticultural displays, encompassing 1,077 acres of gardens, woodlands, meadows, fountains, a 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ and 4.5-acre conservatory. Longwood is located on Route 1 near Kennett Square. For more information, visit longwoodgardens.org or call 610-388-1000.

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