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December 17, 2012

Catch Remnants Of Longwood Gardens’ Sensational Summer LIGHT Installation, Still On Display Through The Holidays

Watch illuminated fountains dance to festive music in Longwood Gardens' Open Air Theatre. Shows run on the hour during the day and every 5 minutes beginning at 3:30 pm. (Photo © Daniel Traub courtesy Longwood Gardens)

Longwood Gardens is one of the Philadelphia region’s most special attractions, a lush world of exotic flowers and plants, with each season bringing a different pleasure: spring magnolias and azaleas; summer roses and water lilies; fall foliage and chrysanthemums; and winter camellias, orchids and palms.

This season is an extra-special time to visit Longwood Gardens, as it transforms into a brilliant winter wonderland for Longwood Gardens Christmas, a twinkling treescape bedecked with half a million lights.

Lights cascade through the branches of Longwood's beautiful American elm, lit for the very first time. (Photo © Daniel Traub courtesy Longwood Gardens)

And the 2012 holiday season is even more special than any years’ past; for the first — and likely last — time ever, you can catch remnants of Bruce Munro’s sensational LIGHT Installation from this summer alongside the magnificent Christmas displays.

If you weren’t able to see LIGHT for yourself, or even if you were and therefore know how singular it was, Longwood Gardens Christmas is an absolute cannot-miss experience.

After all, it was due to LIGHT that Longwood broke a historical attendance record of one million visitors in one year’s time.

Bruce Munro's epic Field of Light installation is still partially up -- check it out during your visit to Longwood Gardens Christmas. (Photo by William Hill courtesy Longwood Gardens)

Visitors to the East end of the Gardens can experience Bruce Munro’s Field of Light, shining in red, green and gold for Christmas.

There are an additional 15,000 lights in the Longwood Gardens Christmas display this year, partly due to the inclusion of LIGHT and partly just because Longwood has upped the ante.

Tickets for Longwood Gardens Christmas are issued for a specific date and time and are available for advance purchase now. Insider tip: the tickets are limited and sell out quickly, so be sure to reserve A.S.A.P.

Longwood Gardens Christmas
When: November 22-January 6
Where: 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square
Cost: Tickets range from $8-$25
More info: www.longwoodgardens.org

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Fred Lessans says:

The other day, my wife and I visited Longwood Gardens for the second time and for the second time, I found myself moved in unexpected ways. One of the highlights of the day was visiting the organ museum which houses one of the largest Aeolian organs ever constructed. The sound was magnificent. After the Christmas presentation, I found myself searching for the organ pipes but they were not visible because they are hidden behind the interior wall. Well I had to see what they looked like. So I proceeded to where they can be viewed and was awestruck. The organ is composed of 10,010 pipes divided into 146 ranks making it one of the largest Aeolian organ ever constructed. It is truly a marvel of human ingenuity.

But my awe did not stop there. I continued to read the various descriptions of the history of the pipe organ. While I was reading various accounts, I found myself strangely filled with great emotion and embarrassingly moved to tears (men are not supposed to cry) as I discreetly wiped my eyes with tissue. To my surprise, what I saw in my mind’s eye was a scene out of Auschwitz in all its pallor of despair, darkness and death. The contrast to what I was seeing and experiencing here at Longwood Gardens was both shocking and overwhelming. The question arose in my thoughts, “How could such polarities exist in the world? How can humanity create both heaven and hell on earth? Why is it that some use their gifts, ingenuity and creativity to create heaven on earth and others use their gifts, ingenuity and creativity to create hell on earth? It was mind numbing to realize the reality of both and the potential man has for both great good and great evil.

There were other moments in the day of what I call, transcendent occurrences, where I was able to glimpse something of a higher realm (and of course was discreetly moved to tears again). But why tears? Why not laughter or some other expression of emotion? Perhaps David the Psalmist said it well when he wrote, “As a dear longs for running streams, so longs my soul for you my God.” Clearly, there is a longing in the human soul for something that transcends the realm in which we live. And when we behold great beauty whether it be in nature, art or music, we are “tasting the life of the age to come,” not as we customarily believe to be in heaven but on earth. Which is why we pray, “Your kingdom come on earth as it is heaven.” It is on earth that one day we will live the life of heaven in all its beauty, creativity, goodness and grandeur.

So I am thankful for places like Longwood Gardens, where my longing for heaven on earth is stirred to use my gifts, ingenuity and creativity to make this world a bit more like the world to come.