Thousands of seasonal plants and lights are visible during ‘A Longwood Christmas.’
Each year, Longwood Gardens located in Kennett Square, Pa., puts on A Longwood Christmas, a holiday themed light display, conservatory and more. This years event kicked off on Nov. 24, with musically inspired displays revolving around A Longwood Christmas’ sights and sounds theme.
According to Jim Sutton, display designer at Longwood Gardens, the tradition was started by the founder, Pierre S. du Pont.
“Pierre had a large tree here on the fern floor, he would give out gifts to the children of his employees,” Sutton says.
Guests are able to explore the 4-acre indoor conservatory including more than 50 trees decorated with red, gold and green glass ornaments. The conservatory contains 16,000 seasonal plants including poinsettias, cyclamen and anthurium flourish. One of the conservatory’s main attractions is a 30-foot floral tree formed with poinsettias, euphorbias and white phalaenopsis orchids.
The Music Room features an 18-foot Fraser Fir tree rotating in a wooden music box decorated with a garland of real musical instruments. Guests entering the conservatory will encounter a 22-foot tall Concolor Fir nestled next to an antique baby grand piano with flowing lights traveling up the tree decorated with red and gold ornaments.
According to Sutton, the theme changes each year and this is one of his favorites.
“It’s my job a year in advance to come up with the theme for Christmas, to set the color pallet and help everybody with all of their projects,” Sutton says. “I determine where we’re going to have the theme, where we are not going to have the theme, if some spots are going to stretch the color pallet a little bit — because we do want it to be very interesting and we want the materials and displays to be appropriate to the houses they are in.”
In addition to displays inside Longwood Gardens, guests can see more than 500,000 outdoor lights on 124 trees, with the tallest tree topping over 90 feet. An illuminated Italian Water Garden and a 10-foot Concolor Fir in the Hourglass Lake Pavilion can also be found outside.
Three fire pits are placed throughout the Longwood Gardens allowing guests to warm up by the fire and if they’re lucky, catch some carolers. The fire pits are available every night throughout the holiday season, weather permitting and Olde Towne Carolers perform Thursday – Sundays, from 4:30 – 8:30 p.m.
The Open Air Theatre fountains dance day and night to holiday classics and Longwood’s outdoor train display located near the Birdhouse Treehouse travels past miniature Longwood landmarks lit for the holiday season. In Longwood’s historic Chimes Tower, the 62–bell carillon plays 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.
Sutton says one of the most important aspects to remember if planning to attend A Longwood Christmas is ‘timed admission tickets.’ Guests planning to view the attraction will need to purchase tickets in advance for a specific date and time. In addition, guests should buy their tickets before arriving at Longwood Gardens to ensure admittance.
“We do that because we want everybody to have a really good experience and if there’s just too many people, it’s not that good of an experience to you…,” Sutton says. “The display is the same on a Monday as it is on a Saturday and if you wait until that week before Christmas and New Year, it’s going to be very busy.”
A Longwood Christmas holds a slew of events on New Year’s Eve including organ music in Longwood’s Ballroom from 3 – 9 p.m., Rob Dickinson and the Brandywine Christmas Minstrels from 2 – 8 p.m. throughout Longwood Gardens, Galena Brass at the Peirce du Pont House from 4 – 9 p.m., and rhythmic Steel Drums at the East Plaza.
To learn more about the event, visit longwoodgardens.org.