Festive

This Is Why You Should Visit Botanical Gardens in the Winter (Photos)

Not all gardens hibernate during the winter. From synchronized light displays to intricate plant sculptures, these botanical gardens are decked out for the holidays.

Denver Botanic Gardens

Ivo M. Vermeulen

New York Botanical Garden

Holiday Train Show

November 16 to January 12


You've never seen twigs, leaves, bark, and stems like these: for New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show, natural botanical materials are used to make miniature versions of New York City landmarks, including Yankee Stadium, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Radio City Music Hall, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Rockefeller Center. Then, more than 20 model railroad and trolley tracks are thrown into the mix, chugging their way through the landscapes. Think the attraction is just for kids? Think again—the Garden's "Bar Car" nights are decidedly adult evenings, and participants are invited to take in the scenery along with a cocktail.

Ivo M. Vermeulen

New York Botanical Garden

Holiday Train Show

Ivo M. Vermeulen

New York Botanical Garden

Holiday Train Show

Chris Kozarich

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Garden Lights

November 16 to January 4


The Atlanta Botanical Garden brings in 1.5 million energy-efficient LEDs to create its illuminated holiday display. Many of the lights are used to transform the Garden's most famous landmarks into holiday-appropriate characters; Earth Goddess, a giant topiary sculpture in the shape of a woman, is given strands of wintry blue hair, turning her into Ice Goddess, and a pair of 15-foot-tall snakes don red and white stripes to make them the Candy Cane Cobras. Powering the 52 miles of light strings is Georgia Power, which uses green energy produced from renewable resources like solar power and biomass.

Joey Ivansco

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Garden Lights

Joey Ivansco

Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Garden Lights

Adam Rodriguez

Desert Botanical Garden

Las Noches de las Luminarias

November 29 to December 31


Who says that holiday botanical displays have to focus on evergreen trees and snow-capped shrubberies? For its holiday display, Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden takes 8,000 hand-lit Luminaria bags and weaves them through trails of cacti and poinsettias. The bags cast a soft glow over the garden, setting the mood for holiday musical performances, be they seasonal songs performed on the hand bells or by carolers in Dickensian dress.

Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver Botanic Gardens

Blossoms of Light and Trail of Lights

November 29 to January 1


If you're looking for high-tech, the Denver Botanic Gardens has you covered. Its Blossoms of Light display, which includes more than a million lights, is synchronized in time to holiday music. What's more, you can purchase 3D "Holospex", which transform the lights into prismatic holiday shapes before your eyes. For those who are more into Christmas Past than Christmas Future, there's the Trail of Lights, which features the garden's on-site, 1880s homestead decorated for the holidays with a vintage Christmas theme.


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Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver Botanic Gardens

Blossoms of Light and Trail of Lights

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens

A Longwood Christmas

November 28 to January 12

Longwood Gardens—located on an estate once owned by industrialist Pierre du Pont in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania—decorates inside and out for the holidays. Within the four-acre heated conservatory, you can find almost any seasonal plant you can think of—poinsettias, amaryllis, lilies, and others—as well as decorated trees that grow as high as 18 feet. Fruit takes a special focus, with the entryway decorated with red and green apples, and a Douglas adorned with 175 hand-blown glass pears. Outdoors, more than 500,000 lights spiral around even more trees, and fountains "dance" to holiday music in the Open Air Theatre.


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