Longwood Gardens Celebrates A Very Retro Christmas

KENNETT SQUARE, PA…  This holiday season, experience a radiance of retro, a bevy of bright, and numerous nostalgic moments at every turn during A Longwood Christmas, on view now through January 7, 2024, at Longwood Gardens. Guests will marvel at holiday trees draped in everything from shimmering tinsel to throwback baubles to childhood-favorite toys. The radiance of retro spills outdoors as more than half-a-million shimmering lights—including some super-sized surprises— adorn nearly 100 trees while singing carolers stroll the Gardens and outdoor firepits invite guests to gather in their warm glow. Timed Tickets to A Longwood Christmas are required and are available now at longwoodgardens.org.

Indoor Highlights
Throughout Longwood’s warm and inviting Conservatory, holiday splendor awaits. Tapping into the nostalgia of Christmases past, guests will experience a fab, festive holiday party scene, a vintage holiday street scene complete with glistening streetlamps and shimmering tinsel garland hanging above, and classic ornaments, shiny décor, and handcrafted elements reminiscent of the ’40s and ’50s merrily mixed throughout the dazzling displays.

Always a highlight, Longwood’s Music Room is decked out in mid-century magic as a sophisticated holiday party scene beckons you inside. The scene is set with blush and mint furnishings amid gold accents, a mirrored bar, and a champagne-colored tinsel tree decorated with glimmering ornaments in white, pink, and green. Handcrafted glassware by Goggleworks Center for the Arts and Burning Branch Studio coupled with heirloom dinnerware adds an elegant flair to the holiday gathering. These two local nonprofits, located in Reading and Kirkwood, PA respectively, focus on creating glass art as part of community outreach. Keep an eye out for the one-of-a-kind punch bowl, candy dishes, glass leaves, and life-like hors d’oeuvres to see the extent of the artisanal talent. 

Other must-sees include a towering 24-foot grand fir decorated in traditional red and green finery, and an 18-foot-tall rotating tree boasting vintage lights, red and silver tinsel, beaded garland, and ornaments that grow in size as they progress down the tree. Inside Longwood’s historic Ballroom, community spirit shines as the Gardens showcase seven trees lovingly dressed in ornaments crafted by members of local non-profit organizations. 

A Longwood Christmas would not be complete without horticultural splendor at every turn. Thousands of colorful poinsettias, fragrant paperwhites, amaryllis, begonias, and other floral finery are highlighted throughout the grand Conservatory. The creativity of Longwood’s expert horticulturists is highlighted in the form of living wreaths fashioned from succulents and other plants, a chandelier featuring white phalaenopsis orchids, and ornaments crafted from a variety plants throughout the eye-popping display.  

Outdoor Highlights
There are half-a-million reasons to venture outside during A Longwood Christmas as miles of twinkling lights invite guests to take a holiday stroll. Wander down Flower Garden Drive under ribbons of enchanting lights. At the Large Lake discover stars that have seemingly descended from the winter sky and gracefully landed at Longwood. See a giant string of retro holiday lights whimsically tangled and floating on the Small Lake. The always popular Wildlife Tree features birdfeeders craft by Longwood Volunteers using colorful toy building blocks, enticing our furry friends to stop by for a treat. 

Glowing luminarias line the pools of the Italian Water Garden, while a 24-foot-tall tree fashioned from holiday lights stands proudly in the center.  Flicker lights lead guests along the Meadow Boardwalk, culminating in a 200-foot-long shimmering tunnel of lights that changes and morphs into different colors and patterns.

Outside of the Peirce-du Pont House, a jolly red 1969 ‘Longwood Farms’ truck harkens back to days gone by as it carries freshly cut Christmas trees in its bed, evoking cherished memories of family trips to the Christmas tree farm. The exterior of the International Load Star 1800 truck has been carefully restored by Longwood staff, making for a classic family photo op. 

Young and old alike will delight in the holiday Garden Railway as it travels past miniature Longwood landmarks decorated for the holiday season. The Main Fountain Garden features a 150-foot-long light tunnel with a specially designed light show, and the Chimes Tower basin is home to a 30-foot-tall floating tree, lit and decorated in stunningly icy elements. After gazing upon the scene, warm up at one of two inviting fire pits.

The sounds of the season are also a special part of A Longwood Christmas, from the strolling carolers on select evenings to the daily fountain shows in the Open Air Theatre that feature 750 jets dancing to holiday favorites during 5-minute shows that run throughout the day and evening.

The Café and Beer Garden offer casual fare, hot chocolate, and other holiday treats for guests to enjoy. The 1906 full-service dining room is open daily, with reservations required via opentable.com

A Longwood Christmas is on view November 17, 2023–January 7, 2024. Admission to the holiday display is by Timed Admission Ticket, with tickets purchased in advance for a specific date and time. Members require free, timed reservations every day. Gardens Premium Members and Innovators do not require reservations. Tickets and reservations are available now at longwoodgardens.org.

Featured Artisans
Burning Branch Studio is a glass blowing studio located in Kirkwood, PA, that offers classes, demos, and more by appointment. Its mission to learn, grow, and heal through the arts takes form in The Equilibrium Through Glass Program, which starts and supports alternative art therapy programs in local substance abuse recovery houses. Visit burningbranchstudio.com to learn more.

Located in downtown Reading, PA, GoggleWorks Center for the Arts operates in a former goggle factory and is composed of 145,000 square feet of creative space. GoggleWorks offers year round arts education, including workshops, classes, and visiting artists; community outreach programs; a summer residency; youth programs and camps; 35 on-site studio artists; the Albert and Eunice Boscov theater; three galleries for exhibitions; the Berks Launchbox maker space; and nine communal studios-hot glass, wood, printmaking, warm glass, metals, ceramics, photography, virtual reality, and urban gardens. Learn more at goggleworks.org.

About Longwood Gardens
In 1906, industrialist Pierre S. 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 1,100 acres of dazzling gardens, woodlands, meadows, fountains, a 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ, and grand conservatory. Longwood Gardens is the living legacy of Pierre S. du Pont, bringing joy and inspiration to everyone through the beauty of nature, conservation, and learning. Open daily, Longwood is one of more than 30 gardens in the Philadelphia region known as America’s Garden Capital. For more information, visit longwoodgardens.org.