Longwood Gardens set to illuminate season

 Trip to see holiday display a staple on area residents’ wish lists

A new fountain of lights will greet Longwood visitors in the main Fountain Garden.

If  Thanksgiving is fast approaching, then so is “A Longwood Christmas,” a popular holiday tradition for many area families.

This year’s winter Longwood Gardens extravaganza – from towering trees adorned with star ornaments to a meticulously decorated Music Room to more than 500,000 twinkling lights – will open on Thanksgiving Day and run through Jan. 6.

To control crowds, admission to the display requires a timed admission ticket that must be purchased in advance for a specific date and time. Guests are urged to buy their tickets before arriving at the gardens to avoid disappointment. Tickets for Peak Days (Saturdays, Sundays and Dec. 26-31) sell out quickly. Members require free reservations if visiting after 2 p.m. on peak days.

 Admission includes access to Longwood’s four-acre heated conservatory with 10,000 seasonal plants, including poinsettias accented with amaryllis, lilies, begonias, cyclamen, and hydrangea, and elegantly decorated trees with festive, star-inspired ornaments, many handmade by Longwood’s staff.

Inside the conservatory, spectators will be treated to 10,000 seasonal plants in a variety of creative arrangements.

In Longwood’s Exhibition Hall, twinkling lights hang from the vaulted glass ceiling over a 64-foot long table dressed for a spectacular holiday gathering. Throughout the conservatory guests will encounter 28 decorated trees, some reaching as high as 22 feet, including unusual floral trees fashioned from poinsettias, hydrangeas and agave.

Outside, more than 500,000 lights adorn 74 trees in classical and free-style form. The display includes the addition of lighting Longwood’s surviving American Elm, select trees in the eastern portion in the gardens near the lake, and a new fountain of lights in the main Fountain Garden.

Weather permitting, fountains dance day and night to holiday music in the Open Air Theatre, and an outdoor train display nestled near the Idea Garden will appeal to young and old as it travels past miniature Longwood landmarks lit for the holiday season. Natural edible ornaments adorn the Wildlife Tree, and the Gardener’s Tree features ornaments crafted from garden findings, including gourds, seedpods, and cones.

Longwood will host special Garden Pass Member-only evenings beginning at 5 p.m. on selected Mondays: Nov. 26, Dec. 3, 10, and 17.

Outside the conservatory, more than 500,000 lights adorn 74 trees in classical and free-style form.

Many musical performances are included in the regular admission, such as organ sing-alongs on Longwood’s famous 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ, and evening choral and bell choir performances by area groups. To purchase tickets or get more information on regular admission prices and specially ticketed concerts, such as Irish ensemble An Nollaig in Eirinn with Danu on Dec. 2 and jazz guitarist, singer, and Ella Fitzgerald Award-winner John Pizzarelli on Dec. 6, go to www.longwoodgardens.org, or visit the gardens on U.S. 1, about three miles northeast of Kennett Square.

Longwood Gardens encompasses a 1,077-acre estate once owned by the late industrialist Pierre du Pont, who purchased the property in 1906 to protect a stand of trees slated for the lumber-yard. Du Pont turned what was once a farm into a horticultural showplace. More information on the gardens’ history is also available on its web site.

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Tags: “A Longwood Christmas”, Kennett Squareu, longwood gardens, Pierre du Pont
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