Christmas Spirit

On Sunday Pennsylvania goes back to some of the restrictions we saw back in March.  Lockdown is how some would call it but inconvenient seems like a better descriptor… unless your livelyhood is again at stake… Restaurants are back to take-out only and indoor entertainment venues and community activities are cancelled.  Stores are limited to 50% capacity.  It’s like lockdown lite and I guess that’s all you can get away with when so much of our state government is determined to fight for our freedoms even while hundreds of residents die each day from a virus they insist isn’t that bad.  But you know this.  You read the news, and those who are being safe are being safe and those who aren’t just won’t believe the stove is hot until they touch it.

longwood christmas

The Orangery, one of Longwood’s main conservatories.  This was all yellow chrysanthemums and a wall of yellow Salvia madrensis just a few days before we visited.

Longwood’s greenhouses are considered indoor entertaiment, and as such will now be closed throughout the holidays, but fortunately we were able to get down there on our usual Sunday after Thanksgiving visit.  The tickets were reserved a week in advance, and even though by the time the day arrived everything was sold out we were still happy to find the place nearly empty.  I believe ticket sales had been cut down to about 25% normal capacity, so from our first step out of the car, through the entrance, to the grounds, through our meal, through the greenhouse, back to our car we barely touched a cleaned surface or moved within six feet of another visitor.  I felt entirely safe, but keep in mind I also believe in the 5 seconds rule so your results may vary.

longwood christmas

Under the cover of Australian tree ferns, two ribbons of poinsettia surround a line of fountains running down the center of the exhibition hall.

As usual the decorations were perfect.  Swathes of holiday flowers, stylish ornaments, perfect lighting, and all the special touches we look for on our visits.  Even the kids were impressed although I suspect they’re both into the stage where much of what their dad does embarrasses them, and forcing them to pose as they opened the bathroom door probably didn’t help.  My bad, but I consider the conservatory bathrooms to be one of the underrated highlights of any Longwood visit.  Lushly planted green walls surround the spacious private powder rooms, and even if you’re not inspired to take a picture you’ll probably never again want to settle for a drafty stall.

longwood christmas

I don’t think she’s smiling under the mask but whatever,  I’m sure these assignments build character.

I’ve only got a few more decent pictures since most of the time we just enjoyed the visit, but Longwood has been posting quite a few photos online this year and pretty much all of them are better anyway so let me suggest their website, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever media you prefer.  Also I recommend their drone flight through the greenhouses video which really shows off the inside decorations.  It’s almost as good as being there.

longwood christmas

I always drag the kids through the greenhouses once during the daylight hours… much better to see all the plants that way 🙂

Both inside and out, the best show starts as daylight fades.  Lights are everywhere and decorations sparkle and it’s nearly impossible to take in all the fantastic detail.

longwood christmas

Just imagine inventorying and storing all the ornaments every year.  

There’s always a nightime hush after dark.  A nice spiked or unspiked hot chocolate makes an excellent strolling companion, maybe not so much for our visit though since it was so warm we barely even needed our coats.

longwood christmas

Everything a-sparkle and a-glow.  If this scene doesn’t please Santa I don’t know what will.

longwood christmas

Each decorated tree was better than the last.

After our final cruise around the greenhouse we did one more lap around the grounds.  We caught all the outdoor lights, visited a few bonfires, and took in one final fountain show.

longwood christmas

The main fountain show is shut down for the winter but the theatre fountains are still a show. 

So we had a great visit.  You should go as well, but maybe not this year since besides being mostly sold out, the greenhouses are shut down until Jan 4th the earliest.  Put it on your list though, and then stay safe so that everyone’s still around next year to check it off.

All the best, and if you didn’t do it before watch the drone video!

14 comments on “Christmas Spirit

  1. Lora and I went last year, and it was fantastic. Now that I hear how empty it was, on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, no less, I sort of regret not going this year. It must change considerably from year to year for you to go every year. Thanks for sharing, and I will be sure to watch the drone video!

    • You can also take virtual tours of Phipps.

      • bittster says:

        I had no idea Phipps was that big! Maybe one of these days there’s going to be a roadtrip planned 😉
        We plan on visiting Longwood each year, but it’s got to be decent weather and we can only fit in certain days so if it doesn’t work out it doesn’t work out (like last year). I guess it does change a good bit each year, but having a break here and there makes coming back even better.

      • You will not regret a trip to Phipps! Pittsburgh is a great city to visit! Your kids would probably enjoy the Carnegie science museum, and of course you would have to ride the Duquesne Incline! Plan on hours and hours for Phipps!

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    What a magical display. You are so fortunate to be able to experience it in person. I saw all of those lilies together. I bet the smelled divine. I know i will enjoy the drone showing. Enjoy the holidays. The children, even in the tween teen years, make it such fun.

    • bittster says:

      Funny you should mention the lilies, I just don’t enjoy the scent and going through that section is a little overpowering, but I’m a trooper lol. Outside I don’t mind the smell nearly as much.
      The kids can be entertaining. They’re not as much fun as during the little years, but they’re sooooo much less work!

  3. Eliza Waters says:

    So beautiful, Frank… this post uplifts! Thanks for sharing your visit. Happy Holidays!

  4. Cathy says:

    Looks fabulous. Now I’m going to watch that video. 😃

  5. Thank you SO MUCH! Loved the birds-eye fly-through. I took my son to see it in 1990 (wow, has it been THAT LONG?!?!?!!!! aaack!) when he was six years old and he still remembers it. I’ll have to send him that link for sure. I’m glad you got to see it in person too.

  6. Ian Lumsden says:

    Your state of semi-lockdown seems rather like our own here in the UK. Certainly where we live. No cafes – a disappointment during visits in winter. Still you found a great place to visit with the kids.

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