I know what you’re thinking. Maya, Christmas Day was 25 days ago and it’s January 19. Why is there a post up on this blog about the holidays when January is more than halfway over?
Allow me to explain. A Longwood Christmas, the annual breathtaking holiday extravaganza in Longwood Gardens, started on November 20. Its expected last day was January 10. However, Pennsylvania closed all indoor spaces on Saturday, December 12. This meant that the Conservatory, a key element in enjoying A Longwood Christmas and a crucial site that had an extensive number of decorations, was closed. But a new year meant promising news: Indoor facilities in the Keystone State reopened on Monday, January 4, and A Longwood Christmas was extended through Sunday, January 17.
It was so soothing and peaceful to enjoy the gardens, and the enduring charm and artistry of this place means you will walk away with a treasured holiday memory. Sure, celebrating Christmas three weeks after the actual holiday happened feels like you’re a character in Groundhog Day, a movie where a weatherman portrayed by actor Bill Murray relives the same day over and over. But a lot of days in the times we’re living in feel that way. And so, I welcome any opportunity that breaks routine. Plus, seeing such an amazing display of lights never hurt anyone and will lift your spirits.
Today’s post focuses on this spectacle. I’m showing photos of all the major spots in the gardens and I’m also mentioning facts about this display that exemplify how this place is an unbelievable attraction. Before I start, I want to share three pieces of information that captivated me the most:
- Longwood Gardens won first place in USA Today’s 10 Best Christmas Lights Contest.
- There are over 500,000 lights (Yes, you read that right. It’s no surprise that this event was sold out).
- 50 miles of LED lights are put on over 100 trees. To achieve this, arborists spend 3,000 hours working on such a task. They start working in September and finish in November.
IN THIS POST:
- MEADOW GARDEN
- ITALIAN WATER GARDEN
- MAIN FOUNTAIN GARDEN
- OTHER PLACES & OPEN AIR THEATRE
- KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
I’m starting with the Conservatory, the crown jewel of Longwood Gardens. There are over 4,400 poinsettias inside. It takes four days to change the previous Chrysanthemum Festival display and to create A Longwood Christmas. Staff, students, and volunteers are responsible for creating such an unforgettable display. 20,000 plants are taken care of in the production greenhouses before staff take them out and feature them in A Longwood Christmas. The Exhibition Hall inside the Conservatory has a tree with over 75 poinsettias.
The above photo shows the Christmas tree in the Music Room. It rotates and spins! The Music Room brims with nostalgia, as the cozy decorations, fireplace, and couches make you feel like you just entered someone’s home. There are books, presents under the tree, toys, and sweets.
The above photo shows the Christmas tree in the Palm House! As you walk through the Conservatory, you’ll see the Mediterranean Garden, Orchid House, and Acacia curtain. The Mediterranean Garden has an 11-foot tree with over 500 ornaments, the Orchid House is decorated in a Christmas theme, and the Acacia curtain has dazzling lights that makes the surrounding area appear as if you’re walking through a dream.
As you leave the Palm House, you’ll see holiday-themed bonsai plants.
The above photo shows the tree in the Silver Garden! The Silver Garden is one of the last places in the Conservatory and you’ll wrap up your Conservatory journey soon. The Silver Garden is a desert-themed room with tall cacti.
2. MEADOW GARDEN
To walk through the Meadow Garden is to have a true rural Pennsylvania experience. This is a gigantic field with trails. The first photo above shows a dazzling lights walkway, and the lights twinkle on and off (It looks extra mesmerizing if you capture it on video). The second photo shows decorated trees and lit-up circular balls. The roads may have mud and puddles, so don’t break out your new shoes while visiting the gardens and just stick to comfortable boots. Like I said, you’re getting that true rural Pennsylvania experience.
3. ITALIAN WATER GARDEN
A Christmas tree has temporarily replaced the fountains in this garden, and what a very pretty tree it is. There’s an adjacent lake, and this section delivers an extra level of awe: The trees are illuminated under a specific light. This is no ordinary light, as the light synchs to Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker music: You’ll hear classics like Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy while taking a walk around the lake. While I only took videos of this sight, enjoy the second photo above that shows another decorated tree. Seriously, how did they manage to fit so many lights on one tree? It looks like no part was left untouched.
4. MAIN FOUNTAIN GARDEN
The Main Fountain Garden is a must-see during your Longwood Gardens visit. Located right in front of the Conservatory, the lights play in synch to holiday music. When we observed these lights, Carol of the Bells played.
5. OTHER PLACES & OPEN AIR THEATRE
As you enter the gardens, you’ll see the decorated trees above if you decide to go to the left toward the Conservatory. If you decide to go to the right toward the Italian Water Garden, you’ll see the red and yellow lights in the second photo above. Wherever you decide to go, don’t miss the Open Air Theatre! Debuting in 1914, the Open Air Theatre is the site of the Holiday Fountain Show during A Longwood Christmas. These shows are set to Christmas music and the water reaches 10 feet. There are 750 jets.
6. KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Visitors must purchase timed admission tickets online. Tickets for this event sell out quickly, and for good reason.
COVID-19 safety regulations are in place. Masks are mandated, and there’s a limit on how many customers can enter the store. Masks are mandatory inside the Conservatory, and an employee at the Conservatory’s entrance says masks are to stay on while taking photos. The Conservatory is one-way, and there are easy-to-follow lines on the ground that show where you need to go next.
While the gardens do open in the morning and you can truly enjoy the beauty at any time of the day, it’s particularly magical to visit at night.
Altogether, Longwood Gardens is awe-inspiring. This is the type of place where you can return time and time again and you’ll just never get tired of it. Andrew Wyeth, a painter that didn’t live too far from the gardens, said, “I prefer winter and fall when you feel the structure of the landscape. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show.” Experiencing the holiday season and creating cozy habits at home prove winter is a time for reflection and appreciation.
Hope everyone is having a great start to their 2021!
All my love,
P.S.- Longwood Gardens is located in the Brandywine Valley. Interested in learning more about this region just outside of Philadelphia? I’ve written posts about the region referred to as “The England of America.”
To read about the 2019 A Longwood Christmas event, click here. As seasons change, Longwood Gardens makes more events. If you want to read about the Orchid Extravaganza, the signature spring event, click here. For insight on what to see and do in the gardens over the summer months, click here. The Chrysanthemum Festival means you can return to the gardens in autumn. To see photos of this festival, click here.
Winterthur is an additional landmark linked to the duPont family. Click here for the blog post about Yuletide, the annual holiday tradition at this estate.
Happy reading! ❤