Kennett Square, Pa. –Longwood Gardens is home to the most significant fountain collection in North America and on May 27, the jewel of that collection, the Main Fountain Garden, again jets to life after a more than two-year revitalization. The premiere weekend, May 27–29, includes fountain performances throughout the day and into the evening, with a chance for guests to be among the first to explore the revitalized Garden.
The Main Fountain Garden is a hallmark of the Longwood experience visited by more than 1.35 million people each year. In 1931, Longwood’s founder Pierre S. du Pont debuted the Main Fountain Garden, which was inspired by 20th century technology from the world's fairs and the beauty of renowned European gardens. After more than 80 years of entertaining guests at Longwood, much of the fountain gardens’ stonework was in need of repair and the mechanical systems, which included the original pumps from 1931, needed updating.
As Longwood embarked on preserving the Garden, the team looked to the future to honor du Pont’s vision and ensure the continued enjoyment of the fountains with an original concept of “adaptive restoration” guiding thousands of design, preservation, restoration and technology application decisions.
Architecturally, the Main Fountain Garden is an Italian Renaissance-inspired expanse constructed on 5 acres with loggias, arches, and decorative sculptures. Dressed in opulent horticulture, the landscape includes generous lawns, shaded alleés, and sculpted plantings returning the Garden to its lush classical European roots. Several new elements including the Pumphouse Plaza and restored Fountain Terrace offer guests new vistas and access to the Garden. While a new, hidden Grotto surprises and intrigues visitors and offers a quiet, contemplative space.
The revitalization includes more than four thousand pieces of carved, ornamental limestone that were salvaged, meticulously cleaned, and repaired by stone carvers from around the world who recreated historic sculpture using traditional techniques and materials, including Italian limestone sourced from the original quarry.
The water theatrics of the Main Fountain Garden are a feat of design and engineering that rely on the most advanced technologies available, uniting the Fountain’s fully restored “Legacy Displays” with a new suite of fanciful fountain effects including basket weave and flame nozzles. The production of dramatic light and sound shows with fine aesthetic character are enabled by additional state-of-the-art technology systems.
Other new discoveries in the Main Fountain Garden include the welcoming Pumphouse Plaza and the Historic Pump Room & Gallery exhibit, which highlights the Garden’s original construction and showcases the original 18 pumps and mechanical systems that powered the fountains from 1931 to 2014.
Nowhere else in the world is there a setting that marries fountains, theatre, and garden– firmly establishing Longwood Gardens’ Main Fountain Garden as one of the finest such venues in the world.
Premiere Weekend May 27-29
Guests can see Main Fountain Garden performances, now set to music, at 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm, and 5 pm; additional half-hour evening shows are at 7:00 and 9:15 pm on Saturday.
The weekend of celebration includes the first Fireworks & Fountains show, Fanfare and Fountains, featuring a musical tour de force inspired by the beauty, grandeur, and fabulous effects of our Main Fountain Garden. The show, slated for Sunday, May 28, is SOLD OUT.
Summer of Spectacle
May 27–September 30
Summer of Spectacle runs throughout the summer, and features daily fountain performances and a variety of special events throughout the season. A new exhibit Water & Wonder–The Spectacular Main Fountain Garden Shows is on view throughout Summer of Spectacle. The exhibit traces the history and development of Longwood fountain displays and Fireworks & Fountains Shows, and gives insight into how the dazzling shows were created in the past as well as exploring the innovative technologies used to create shows today.
The Beer Garden returns Thursday–Saturday evenings offering alfresco dining while enjoying Longwood Signature Brews created by Victory Brewing Company using ingredients grown at Longwood. Regional artists perform live music every Thursday evening, from 6–9 pm, the perfect prelude to the Illuminated Fountain Show at 9:15 pm.
Fireworks & Fountains Shows
July 2, July 22, August 12, September 2, September 16
The astonishing awe of Longwood’s Fireworks & Fountains Shows return on six special evenings. Special tickets are required for these artistic shows combining fountains and fireworks choreographed to music. Admission is by advance-sale ticket only and tickets are limited. Fireworks & Fountains tickets include all-day admission to the Gardens. Blankets are not permitted. Guests can select from two ticketing options: Lawn Seating and Reserved Seating.
It was July 20, 1906 that Pierre S. du Pont purchased the original Longwood property and we are marking the day with celebratory Founder’s Weekend, highlighted by the premiere of the Main Fountain Garden documentary, Flowing Water. Hear from the filmmaker about the making of this feature, which shares the history of the creation of the Main Fountain Garden and documents its revitalization in stunning visual detail. Journey with the filmmaker as he retraces Pierre’s visits to inspirational gardens in Europe and much more. The documentary will be viewed outdoors beginning at 7 pm. Free with timed admission ticket.
Music fills the Gardens throughout the summer as Longwood welcomes a stellar lineup of performers. Special ticket required.
Sunday, June 18
Critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Josh Ritter comes to the Gardens on the heels of his latest album, Sermon on the Rocks. Tickets include all-day admission and are $20–$45, available at longwoodgardens.org.
The Delaware Symphony Orchestra with Peter Serkin, Piano
Sunday, June 25
The Delaware Symphony Orchestra, led by David Amado, will present an all-Beethoven program with highly acclaimed pianist Peter Serkin. Tickets include all-day admission and are $32–$67, available at longwoodgardens.org.
Tuesday, July 11
Grammy Award winner Dianne Reeves returns to our Gardens for an evening of incredible jazz vocals. Tickets include all-day admission and are $28–$53, available at longwoodgardens.org.
Del & Dawg
Featuring Del McCoury and David Grisman
Tuesday, August 15
Bluegrass royalty Del McCoury and David (Dawg) Grisman come together to celebrate half a century of friendship and music making. Tickets include all-day admission and are $30–$55, available at longwoodgardens.org.
Tuesday, September 5
Julieta Venegas is a Grammy Award-winning Mexican-American singer-songwriter, musician, and producer. Tickets include all-day admission and are $34–$59, available at longwoodgardens.org.
Throughout Summer of Spectacle, the Gardens will be open 9 am to 6 pm Sunday–Wednesday, and 9 am to 10 pm Thursday–Saturdays for Illuminated Fountain Shows. Admission is by timed admission ticket only. Members may visit anytime, but require free timed reservations if visiting after 5 pm, Thursday–Saturday evenings. To purchase tickets or make Member reservations, visit www.longwoodgardens.org.
About Longwood Gardens
In 1906, industrialist Pierre du Pont (1870-1954) purchased a small farm near Kennett Square, PA, to save a collection of historic trees from being sold for lumber. Today, Longwood Gardens is one of the world’s great horticultural displays, encompassing 1,077 acres of dazzling gardens, woodlands, meadows, fountains, 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ and 4.5-acre conservatory. Longwood continues the mission set forth by Mr. du Pont to inspire people through excellence in garden design, horticulture, education and the performing arts, through programming that includes exhibitions, musical performances by leading artists, renowned horticulture education programs, horticulture research, environmental stewardship and community engagement.