A Longwood Christmas at Longwood Gardens is one of Philadelphia’s most beloved holiday traditions. Almost the entirety of this incredible 1077 acre botanical garden is adorned with Christmas cheer. Asides from taking in the sights & fresh scents of more than 16,000 plants, you will also get to enjoy more than 600,000 colorful lights, plus synchronized shows, live concerts, and dozens of festively decorated Christmas trees.
No December visit to Philly is really complete until you visit Longwood Gardens. Tickets are timed entry which helps to disperse the crowds a bit, although this is still one of Philly’s most visited events. You will want to book your tickets sometime in the afternoon (1-2:00 is ideal), which gives you plenty of time to check out the massive indoor conservatory before strolling the grounds at night to take in the holiday lights.
The gardens, while beautiful anytime of year, really shine during the winter season. The conservatory is pretty large at 4 acres, so plan for at least an hour to stroll through all 20 gardens, leisurely admiring all the plants. There is a lot to take in, so visiting during a non peak period will enable you to appreciate the beauty more. Some of the highlights here include an incredible bonsai collection, the Mediterranean Garden, and a gorgeous tropical collection. Take a look below!
This handy guide will let you know what is in bloom throughout the year. Take a look at a few of the highlights from the 2019 winter season.
December is the time to enjoy all the gorgeous poinsettias. This plant is native to Guatemala and Mexico, making it one of the few Christmas plants native to the Americas. Today, poinsettias are a favorite way of many to celebrate the beauty of the season, even in cold climates. Walking around the warm atrium filled with colorful tropical plants and poinsettias really feels like Christmas in Paradise. Not only is the conservatory a nice break from the chilly winter season, but it is also fun to see a different tropical side to Christmas.
Beautiful lighted Christmas trees, festive ornaments, many varieties of poinsettia, and a 400 foot entwined ribbon are a few of the seasonal highlights. Take a look at the fabulous seasonal touches throughout the conservatory!
Arriving earlier on the day will enable you to enjoy a less stressful experience. At night, the place gets so crowded that it is quite hard to enjoy the plant life as you are basically limited to a single file line. Arrive around 1-2 to enjoy the conservatory in a more leisurely manner (during the week is even better!).
Outdoor Holiday Lights
At night, you will want to take a stroll around the gorgeous grounds. There are 2 wonderful synchronized fountain shows featuring holiday tunes and over 500,000 lights. Also be sure to check out the lineup of special seasonal Christmas performances. On a side note, it can get pretty chilly at night, so do bundle up and plan on bringing a hat and gloves even if the temps are mild during the day. If you do get cold, simply head over to one of the cozy fire pits (there are 3 scattered around the grounds) or grab a hot cocoa.
The festive fountain show, synchronized to popular holiday classics!
Take a look at the beautiful holiday lights!
A bit of history
Pierre duPont, American businessman & entrepreneur, purchased the property in 1906, mainly as a way to preserve the trees as a lumber mill operator was going to cut down the trees for timber.
The Pierce duPont house is now open to the public for tours. The house was built in 1730 and used by the du Ponts until 1954. Pierce was an American businessman and entrepreneur, and grandson of the founder of DuPont Chemical. Take a look at the beautiful decor inside the house.
To this day, the garden continues to carry on the legacy of duPont’s love for gardens and fountains.
The Music Room features the first organ console and one of Pierre S. du Pont’s two Steinway concert grand pianos. With the help of Shane Confectionery (America’s oldest candy shop), the room has been transformed into a whimsical nostalgic candy shop.
Tips for a great visit
Avoid weekends if possible. This is one of Philly’s most popular holiday attractions and it can get crowded on weekends, despite the timed entry.
Avoid morning time slots. Mid afternoon tickets are the best value as you will have the best opportunity to view both inside and outside attractions.
Check the lineup of special seasonal events and performances in advance and plan your visit accordingly.
Dress in layers and bring extra winter clothes for walking around at night.
Skip the overpriced 1906 restaurant and opt for a quick affordable meal at The Cafe. Here you will find an assortment of dishes in a cafeteria style setting. The vegan chili and mushroom soup are both delicious! Wine, seasonal beers, and special holiday meals are also available. Although you can enter and leave the gardens, it’s way too much of a hassle!