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Sensory feast of ‘A Longwood Christmas’ opens for the season

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STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
bbingaman@21st-centurymedia.com
@brianbingaman on Twitter

“A Longwood Christmas” is more than holiday horticulture.
The seasonal attraction, running Nov. 24-Jan. 8 at Longwood Gardens, is a musically-inspired display that also has fountain shows, an outdoor G-scale model train display, free and ticketed performances, and daily holiday sing-alongs with Longwood’s 10,010-pipe organ. For a detailed list of performances, visit www.longwoodgardens.org.

What else should I definitely see?

Outdoor attractions include more than 500,000 lights adorning 124 trees, with the tallest tree topping over 90 feet; the illuminated Italian Water Garden; a 10-foot concolor fir in the Hourglass Lake Pavilion decorated with materials found in the Meadow Garden; a Wildlife Tree with edible ornaments for bird and other critters; and a Gardener’s Tree with handcrafted ornaments and a garland made with angel vine and burlap. Longwood’s historic Chimes Tower, which has a 62-bell carillon, plays festive tunes every half hour.

Longwood Gardens' Conservatory will feature more than 50 trees with glass ornaments during A Longwood Christmas. Courtesy photo

Longwood Gardens’ Conservatory will feature more than 50 trees with glass ornaments during A Longwood Christmas.
Courtesy photo

If you think you’re going to be outside for a while, warm up by one of the three festive fire pits designed by Longwood craftsmen and local artisans. They’ll be at the Hour Glass Lake Pavilion, Peirce-du Pont House Plaza and Dogwood Plaza.
The four-acre heated conservatory offers more than 50 trees adorned with an array of red, gold and green glass ornaments; 16,000 seasonal plants including poinsettias, cyclamen and anthurium flourish, and a 30-foot floral tree formed with poinsettias, euphorbias and white phalaenopsis orchids; plus 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.
The Music Room décor features an 18-foot Fraser fir tree rotating in a wooden music box decorated with a garland of real musical instruments.

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That’s in Kennett Square, right?

Close to where Route 1 meets Route 52 in Kennett Township.

This must be really popular. Am I going to need advance tickets?

Yes, they’re all timed tickets. Non-peak days, when crowds are lighters, are Mondays through Thursdays (except for Dec. 26-Jan. 1). Peak days are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Jan. 1, and every day from Dec. 26 through New Year’s Day. Check availability and prices at longwoodgardens.org or call (610) 388-1000.

Speaking of New Year’s, I see “A Longwood Christmas” runs into 2017.

On Dec. 31, Rob Dickinson and the Brandywine Christmas Minstrels perform from 2 to 8 p.m. throughout the gardens, organ music will fill the Ballroom from 3 to 9 p.m. and barbershop quartet Frank the Dog harmonize throughout the conservatory from 6 to 9. Other performances include the Galena Brass at the Peirce-du Pont House from 4 to 9 p.m., and steel drums from 5 to 9 at the East Plaza.

Wasn’t Longwood Gardens started by the du Ponts?

In 1906, industrialist Pierre du Pont purchased a small farm to save a collection of historic trees from being sold for lumber. His vision was for the space to inspire people through excellence in garden design, horticulture, education and the performing arts. Today, Longwood is 1,077 acres of gardens, woodlands and meadows.

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