Longwood Gardens is not just a great place to visit during the warmer months. A Longwood Christmas is one of the most beautiful and elaborate Christmas experiences in the United States.
Longwood Gardens is considered one of the best (if not the best) garden in the United States and if you are within driving distance of Longwood Gardens, A Longwood Christmas is one of the most magical Christmas events you can do (with or without your family).
Check out this guide for what to expect, our best tips, and all the details you need to plan your holiday road trip to Kennett Square, Pennsylvania!
Details You Need To Know Before you Go
Address: 1001 Longwood Rd, Kennett Square, PA 19348
Google Map Directions click here!
The 2023 dates for A Longwood Christmas are November 17th through January 7th, 2024. The gardens are open every day from 10am until 11pm.
Tickets must be purchased in advance online and when you purchase your ticket you must select an arrival time. The tickets are timed-entry. Admission cost to the garden is $30/adults, $27 for college student and seniors 62+, $23 for active duty service members and veterans, $16 for youth ages 5-18, FREE for ages 4 and under, and $2 for SNAP/EBT/PA ACCESS Cardholders.
The website recommends 3-4 hours. However, in my experience, it’s best to arrive between 4-5pm on your selected date. Enjoy the gardens as the sun goes down and then have a nice dinner at The Cafe. Post dinner plan to spend 1-1.5 hours outside in the gardens, and another 1-1.5 hours inside the Conservatory.
Yes! Longwood Gardens is generally speaking very wheelchair and stroller friendly, with wide paved paths and ADA accessible amenities inside the Conservatory.
There are likely going to be crowds the entire season because this is a very popular holiday event. However, if you want fewer people choose a date earlier in the season during the week. Weekends and the dates leading up to Christmas will be extremely busy compared to earlier in the season. Alternatively, you could visit A Longwood Christmas during the week and a half after Christmas for potentially lower crowds.
There are public restrooms inside the main entrance building, the Terrace restaurant building, inside the Conservatory, and at various locations throughout the gardens.
One of the reasons A Longwood Christmas is so fabulous is that it changes.. dramatically… every year. Yes, there will always be over 500,000 Christmas lights.
But the way the lights are displayed, the decorations inside the Conservatory, even the theme and colors of A Longwood Christmas change dramatically every year.
These are the highlights we visit every year!
The Fountain Show at the Open Air Theatre is always so fun year round. However, the holiday lights fountain show at Christmas is absolutely magical! Honestly, it doesn’t matter how cold it is outside.
Grab a hot cocoa, zip up your coat, and head over to the fountains for a fountain lights show that is choreographed to holiday favorites like the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, other Nutcracker dances, or other holiday favorites!
The fountain show runs daily at 10:15 am and every 15 minutes starting at 12:00 pm. Note: This show is weather dependent and will not run if the temperatures are below freezing.
Near the Open Air Theatre, stop by the Garden Railway to see Longwood Gardens’ version of the holiday trains display.
The light tunnels are a fairly new addition to A Longwood Christmas and I just can’t get enough of them!
There are multiple locations for the tunnels, to include in the Main Fountain Garden area and Peirce’s Park and Woods area.
Ok, I could share probably 100 photos of the lights tunnels because they are just so pretty. They are not set to music, but the light patterns do change, so spend some time inside the tunnel to get the full experience.
But for real… isn’t that light tunnel amazing? It’s like they make a forest scene out of lights. Oh, and this is the same tunnel as the one that looks like a candy cane pictured above!
Flower Garden Walk
The Flower Garden Walk area is probably the first set of holiday lights you will see when you pass through the ticketing doors. If you veer to your right, the rose garden trellises will be decorated for the holidays!
In 2022, this totally awesome holiday lights sculpture was placed in the middle of the rose garden area and the golden shadows that were projected onto the walkway was nothing short of stunning.
As you walk down the flower garden walkway, the path is always festively adorned with hanging lights and Christmas trees. Even if it’s cold outside, you will totally have a warm feeling in your belly because you can’t help but ooze Christmas spirit walking around these lights. (Yes, I know I am being corny.. but these lights really are so fantastic!)
Small Lake Lights
There are two lakes at Longwood Gardens; the Large Lake and the Small Lake. Every year the trees opposite the Small Lake are lit up in the most ethereal way, so that the reflections dance on the water. And every year the color and theme is slightly different.
Every year the effect is absolutely gorgeous.
Italian Water Garden
The Italian Water Garden will be turned off for A Longwood Christmas but that doesn’t mean it won’t be spectacular. The trees are lit up and there are always elaborate lights displays in this area of the gardens.
One great thing about A Longwood Christmas is the garden staff realizes most people will get cold. So, there are fire pits located throughout the gardens, including right in front of the Italian Water Garden.
The treehouses are open and decorated for A Longwood Christmas and there are also hot cocoa stands throughout the main outdoor part of the gardens.
If Longwood Gardens is amazing and spectacular outdoors for Christmas, the Christmas decorations inside the Conservatory are out of this world amazing!
Seriously, every year the Conservatory is the part of A Longwood Christmas that changes the most. And every year my jaw hits the floor in awe and wonder. To say the Conservatory is beautiful doesn’t even begin to adequately describe the reaction you will have when you see them.
When you first walk into the Conservatory the East Conservatory will feature a ginormous Christmas tree. Plus the entire East Conservatory will be decked out in holiday cheer.
Admire the trees and plant exhibits both from afar and up close. Why? Because most of the holiday decorations inside the Conservatory will feature flowers and flowering plants. The garland on the Christmas tree might be actual roses. You could see a tree in the Orangery made completely of poinsettia plants.
And even the trees and plants that aren’t festooned with holly, will be decorated with elaborate Christmas ornaments that will totally make you smile!
Pretty much every day during A Longwood Christmas there will be concerts inside the Ballroom or Music Room. Check the daily schedule to find out when the organ will play. There are chamber concerts, choral performances, and more!
If you see only one thing at A Longwood Christmas you HAVE to visit the Exhibition Hall. Every year, Longwood Gardens comes up with the most gorgeous and exquisite (and yes, I mean exquisite) ways to render the annual theme via Christmas trees and decor in the Exhibition Hall.
We have visited more than 5 years and we have never not had our jaws hit the floor when we reached the big reveal of the Exhibition Hall.
The Fire and Ice theme was my personal favorite. I could have stood there for an hour or longer and still not grown tired or taking in this scene.
Main Fountain Garden Area
The Main Fountain Garden area will also dazzle you because the decorations are so pretty! One of the main light tunnels is located here. And even though the water in the fountains is not flowing, the fountains still have Christmas lights!
The Christmas tree display at the end of the walkway (close to the Main Entrance/Exit) is always huge and always decorated elaborately.
Even the water fountain inside the Grotto will have a Christmas themed light show.
Dine at Longwood Gardens
There are multiple on-site dining options and they are both fantastic.
1906 is the Longwood Gardens full service restaurant and it gets phenomenal reviews. I have not personally dined here but everything on the menu is fresh, locally sourced, sustainable, and (from what I hear) delicious.
The Cafe is the quick service or counter service dining option. But make no mistake. This is not your average chicken strips and burger kind of dining experience. I love to eat lunch or dinner at The Cafe on our Longwood Gardens visits. The food is always amazing.
You can get basic salads and chicken strips for your kids. But you can also order Citrus Glazed Salmon (I have had this. It’s to die for), Winter Vegetable Pasta, Roast Turkey, and more.
Plus, the desserts at The Cafe are also phenomenal. There are all kinds of gourmet cookies and baked goods and typically seasonal gourmet offerings. Last year they offered a peppermint cheesecake (pictured above). Holy cow it was delicious!
Suggested Visit Itinerary for A Longwood Christmas
There is really no right or wrong way to visit A Longwood Christmas. But after numerous years of attending, this is my favorite way to visit!
Before the sun sets
- Arrive by 4pm. Go potty in the Main Building before heading to the gardens. It will still be light out but you will get to see the gardens at sunset. Gorgeous. If you want to see the train garden in the light, head there first.
- Around sunset (or 5pm) make your way to The Cafe for dinner. Grab your choice of a gourmet meal and dessert and sit inside to enjoy! Go potty after you eat (see a theme here?).
Outdoor Lights Displays
- After dinner, start your walk around the outdoor gardens. The direction really doesn’t matter. You can go clockwise and basically start with the Open Air Garden Theatre Fountain Show, followed by the Peirce’s Park and Woods area. Or you could start with the Flower Garden Walk.
- Either way, you will loop around catching the Small and Large Lake, the train garden after dark, the treehouses, and the Italian Water Garden. When you reach the Italian Water Garden stop to warm your hands and grab some hot cocoa.
Indoor Lights Displays
- Once you finish the outdoor loop head into the Conservatory. If you have kids let them play in the Children’s Garden for a little bit. Visit the Children’s Garden even if you don’t have kids with you. It’s very festive!
- It’s hard to say what direction is the best direction to go to see the Exhibition Hall for the first time. If I had to choose, I would say veer right when you enter the Conservatory. See the big Christmas tree in the East Conservatory, check out the room with the organ and maybe listen to a concert. Then see the main Exhibition Hall trees from the top of the hall near the Music Room. The view will blow you away (but it’s still not the best view). Check out the Music Room decorations.
- Then head down the far side walkway, taking in the grandeur of the main Exhibition.
- Once you reach the far end of the Exhibition Hall, you will see the full force of the year’s piece de resistance!
- From there you can see the orchids, the Orangery, the Children’s Garden, and more. Make your way to the front of the Conservatory.
End your night
- Exit the Conservatory and visit the Main Fountain Garden area. Walk back towards the main entrance building.
- Go potty and do some Christmas shopping in the excellent gift store (it’s really awesome). And there you have it!