Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas and New Year at Longwood Gardens

A fantasy wonderland of colorful fountains and more than a half million Christmas lights are burning each night through January 11th at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. You can also see world class ice skating performances and tour the indoor gardens with 11,000 different types of plants in all colors, sizes and shapes.

This year Longwood Gardens started a timed ticket entry that has improved the visit significantly, less crowds and more opportunity to see the holiday exhibits. There was no waiting when we went on a Saturday evening and the efficient parking attendants had us into a parking space, near the entrance, in a matter of minutes. The time between Christmas and New Year is the perfect opportunity for a family outing.

Stroll the 1000 acre estate and enjoy the outdoor decorations and open air fountains. Throughout the evening the dancing fountains are set to holiday music and changing colors ever hour. Performances are held each hour until an hour before closing.

World class skating performances are held at the Skating Under the Stars outdoor theater. At the Saturday performance Alexey Beletsky, 4 time silver medalist representing the Ukraine and Israel, performed ice dancing with Melissa Bulanhagui, the 8th ranked US skater, along with Blake Rosenthal, U.S. national medalist and international junior medalist. Under foggy skies, the skaters entertained the large crowd with solo and combined ice dancing for the twenty minute performance.

Throughout the park are hot chocolate and soft pretzel stands to warm you up on a cold evening. There are also two dining areas open for snacks and meals. If you are up for a full family buffet check out the special dates for the Yuletide Buffet.

Getting There: Located in southeastern Pennsylvania, Longwood Gardens is a great day trip from places in New York, Eastern Pennsylvania, Northern Delaware, Maryland and Washington DC. Approximate distances from these areas:

Philadelphia, PA 30 miles
Wilmington, DE 12 miles
Valley Forge, PA 28 miles
Lancaster, PA 43 miles
Baltimore, MD 75 miles
Washington, DC 110 miles
New York, NY 130 miles

Individual Ticket Costs
Adults: $16
Seniors (ages 62+): $14
Students (ages 5-22): $6
Children ages 4 and under: Free

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