Ideas and Inspiration from A Longwood Christmas

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When I first moved to the Philadelphia area, everyone told me about A Longwood Christmas.  I didn’t understand how a garden– in winter, no less– could inspire such impassioned pleas that this place was truly one-of-a-kind.  Reluctantly, in 32 degree weather four Decembers ago, I bundled up and went with my husband and then 6-month old Noodle.

It. Was. Breathtaking.  Despite the freezing temps, I didn’t want to leave.

Christmas Decorating Ideas from Longwood Gardens & Tips for Visiting A Longwood Christmas{source: Longwood Gardens}

I haven’t skipped a year since that first tentative visit.  How can I, when it’s now part of our family’s Christmas tradition and it fills me with such a feeling of peace and joy?  Plus each year is different– different theme, different flowers, different displays.

Christmas Decorating Ideas from Longwood Gardens & Tips for Visiting A Longwood Christmas{source: Stephanie Glover}

Same sense of awe, though.

Half a million twinkling lights, towering decorated trees, live music, crisp air.  The rumors are true, A Longwood Christmas is not to be missed.  It runs through January 6th, and we often go the week after New Years just to extend the season a bit longer.

Christmas Decorating Ideas from Longwood Gardens & Tips for Visiting A Longwood Christmas
these long strands of lights dangled overhead, like stars gently falling

This year, I was invited to preview it as a part of a Star Blogger program.  We started out with Star-tinis, to set the holiday mood:

Christmas Decorating Ideas from Longwood Gardens & Tips for Visiting A Longwood Christmas{source: A Life in Balance}

Each year I say I’m going to finally get some photos.  And each year, I’m too busy taking it all in (or pushing strollers) to even try.  I figured the blogger preview would be my year but nope– still hardly any photos!  There’s just too much to see, and photos can’t possibly convey its beauty.  There’s inspiration everywhere, but I couldn’t begin to try to capture it all.  I did Instagram a few, as I stumbled my way around trying to talk, snap, and capture it all.

The magic begins when you first walk outside, right past the most incredible trees light by tens of thousands of lights.

Christmas Decorating Ideas from Longwood Gardens & Tips for Visiting A Longwood Christmas{source: Longwood Gardens}

To the right is a fountain timed to holiday music.  There’s treehouses (lit for night usage, too!), a garden railway, and I can’t even tell you how incredible the conservatory is– it’s just too beautiful for words.  The Conservatory has a unique children’s garden with water play and mazes, plus 20 additional gardens and rooms spanning half a mile.  It’s incredible.

This year, I oogled an installation from the Bruce Munro light display.  They have a pond with massive floating trees.  Every inch just feels magical.

Christmas Decorating Ideas from Longwood Gardens & Tips for Visiting A Longwood Christmas

Yes, the moon really was this big when we visited.  It’s as if Mother Nature wanted in on the action!

Christmas Decorating Ideas from Longwood Gardens & Tips for Visiting A Longwood Christmas{source: A Life In Balance}

This year’s theme, stars, was represented everywhere.

Christmas Decorating Ideas from Longwood Gardens & Tips for Visiting A Longwood Christmas{source: Stephanie Glover Photography}

Each year the display in the center of the conservatory changes, and it’s always incredible.  This year it featured a 64 foot table on a carpet of perfect grass with a moss runner down the middle.  I’m ready, what’s for dinner?

Christmas Decorating Ideas from Longwood Gardens & Tips for Visiting A Longwood Christmas

Amazingly, the conservatory is transformed for Christmas in just three days.  Trust me, when you visit you’ll see what that fact is hard to believe.  I can’t even get my own decorations up in three days, how on earth do they make THIS happen?

Christmas Decorating Ideas from Longwood Gardens & Tips for Visiting A Longwood Christmas{source: Musings of a Housewife}

If you are visiting Longwood Gardens, here’s a few practical suggestions:

  • You need timed tickets, and they can sell out.  Be sure to purchase yours before leaving home, and well in advance if possible.
  • Annual Garden Pass members get to see a Longwood Christmas for free– PLUS certain Mondays are members only, so you’ll enjoy a less crowded visit.  Be sure to reserve your free tickets before arriving, you’ll need them to get in.
  • If you have kids (or don’t like crowds), I highly suggest going on an off-peak day (weekdays).  Or go after 8PM, also considered off-peak.
  • Dress in layers since you’ll spend time both indoors and out.
  • If you have young children, they’ll appreciate a stroller because there’s a lot of ground to cover.  Plus it can serve as a jacket-holder when they are playing inside.
  • If you happen to have a child that gets a little too excited in the water play area of the children’s garden, they do have towels.  Just ask a staff member.  😉

I’ll be going again soon with my family, perhaps then I’ll snap some pics?

Christmas Decorating Ideas from Longwood Gardens & Tips for Visiting A Longwood Christmas{source: A Life In Balance}

Nah, you’re right — probably not.  But there’s always summer.  And I can’t WAIT to see what magic each season has in store, if a garden can look this amazing in winter!

Christmas Decorating Ideas from Longwood Gardens & Tips for Visiting A Longwood Christmas

Have you visited Longwood Gardens?  See any ideas you can use in your own home?  And how would you like to wash all those dishes and glasses from that 64-foot tablescape?  Whew, it makes me tired just thinking about it!

Thanks to the following {fabulous} fellow Star Bloggers for letting me snag a few pics:  Jo-Lynne from Musings of a Housewife;  Stephanie from A Grande Life;  Barb from A Life in Balance

As a Star Blogger, I was given a yearly membership to Longwood Gardens.  I was not paid for this post, and as always, all opinions are 100% my own.  Follow the #StarsAtLongwood hashtag for more ideas and inspiration!

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10 Comments

  1. Oh, we miss Longwood so! My husband grew up in Chadds Ford and we lived in Chester County running a small gallery in West Chester. We hope to get back this season and visit. Thanks for the memories!

    Cheers,
    Margot

    1. Margot, that sounds blissful! We love galleries around here. Come back and visit, Longwood is ready to welcome you back with open arms… and a few hundred stars. 🙂

  2. na-uh, you got a free membership!? that’s awesome. i haven’t been in years, but i do want to go again during christmas. have you gone to winterthur for their xmas tours? gorgeous, too.

    1. I haven’t been to Winterthur– YET. I really want to go, maybe in a few years when my daughter is older or when my mom comes to visit (she’s a huge Brandywine fan!)

  3. We should visit Winterthur together Carrie! I love Longwood and even moreso at Christmas 🙂

    1. Amy, I haven’t been to Winterthur so I’m ALL IN for a visit. Name the date, let’s do it! And I have an extra guest pass to Longwood if you’re ever up for that, too.

  4. Oh yes please, I’ll have a Star-tini…or two!! 😉 Great post Carrie, love those beautiful light scenes!!

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