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Celebrate the Holidays at Missouri Botanical Garden

The Gardenland Express is only one of a wide variety of events marking the holiday season. Traditional celebrations for Chanukah, Christmas and Kwanzaa are also planned.

The Missouri Botanical Garden outlined its season-long schedule of holiday events in a news release recently. Included in the holiday events are flora, toy trains, holiday crafts and plenty of holiday decorations.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is sharing the spirit of the holiday season with an abundance of festivities to create lasting memories for young and old alike. Enjoy the return of the colorful Gardenland Express holiday flower and train show, two weekends filled with holiday carols and visits with Santa, holiday décor, traditional Chanukah and Kwanzaa celebrations, and more. For detailed information on the complete lineup of holiday happenings, visit the Garden's website.

Gardenland Express

The annual Gardenland Express holiday flower and train show is a seasonal tradition at the Garden. Eight G-scale model trains wander through a floral wonderland of more than 500 colorful poinsettias and other blooming plants.

This year’s display celebrates “Merry Botanical Traditions” and features plants of the holiday season. The 5,000-square-foot Orthwein Floral Display Hall is transformed into a festive landscape surrounding a whimsical fairy tale cottage. Hundreds of blooming plants, decorations and the ever-popular model trains covering 900 feet of elevated track weaving through the display create the lively atmosphere. To celebrate the success of the Chinese Lantern Festival: Art by Day, Magic by Night held this year at the Garden, the show will feature silk pieces of Euphorbia (poinsettia), Ilex (holly), Zygocactus (Christmas cactus) and more, crafted by the Lantern Festival artisans.

Gardenland Express is open Wednesday, Nov. 21 through Tuesday Jan. 1 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will close early at 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, and will be closed on Christmas Day. Admission is $5 per person (ages 3 and up), in addition to regular Missouri Botanical Garden admission. It's free for Garden members.

Gardenland Express is sponsored by CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann P.C., Central States Coca-Cola Bottling Company and Greg and Janet Krekeler, with support from Paul Ecke Ranch.

Traditional Celebrations

There will be two weekends of additional Christmas cheer at Saturdays with Santa: Christmas Carols in the Garden. Listen to caroling groups sing seasonal favorites. Whisper Christmas wishes to Santa, whose sleigh will make its way to the Garden thanks to Rudolph. The events will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 and 15.

Experience the traditional Jewish holiday celebration of Chanukah: Festival of Lights. The festival begins with the ceremonial lighting of the menorah, representing the first of eight evenings that the miraculous oil jar burned in the temple. Several dance troops will demonstrate traditional and folk dance to the delight of the crowds. Local musicians and choral groups will perform throughout the afternoon. Visitors will enjoy browsing through the “shuk” (marketplace) for Chanukah themed treasures. The Festival of Lights celebration will occur from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9.

From noon to 4 p.m. on Dec. 28 will be the contemporary African-American holiday of Kwanzaa: Festival of the First Fruits. The family-friendly celebration honors African traditions and history with storytelling and music to celebrate the feast before the dry season. Symbolic candle-lighting ceremonies are accompanied by African storytellers using traditional costumes and percussion music. Art, jewelry and costume vendors will offer merchandise for sale and the Garden Gate Shop will offer a wide selection of African-made crafts, music CDs and more.

Holiday Decor

The Holiday Wreath Auction features creations by the region’s floral designers, decking the walls of the Ridgway Visitor Center. Designs range from traditional to whimsical and are sure to delight. All wreaths are sold by silent auction bidding, with proceeds benefiting the Missouri Botanical Garden. View the display from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 16 through Jan. 2  The display closes at 4 p.m. Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, and is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas.

Experience a Victorian Christmas at Tower Grove House, the 19th Century country home of Garden founder Henry Shaw. The estate is decorated for the holidays with wreaths, garland, floral centerpieces, greenery and a holiday tree. Children can enjoy storytelling on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and visit the activity corner to color tree-themed holiday cards. Each child will receive a copy of A Cold Winter’s Evening in Shaw’s Garden, a special Garden-themed coloring book. Tower Grove House is open for the holidays Wednesdays through Sundays, Nov. 21 through Jan. 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., closing early at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. The house is closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Holiday Trimmings at the Kemper Center for Home Gardening offers a cozy reprieve from the wintery weather throughout December. Marvel at the 12-foot tall balsam fir tree naturally decorated with hand-crafted “gourdaments” and gourd birdhouses made by Missouri Botanical Garden staff and volunteers. This year’s theme is “Fun with Flora and Fauna.”  Decorated gourds may be bid on through the month and will be sold on Jan. 1 to benefit the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening. A holiday sleigh provides the perfect setting for holiday family photos. Peek outside to be inspired by outdoor “winterscape” décor. Holiday trimmings are on display Wednesday, Dec. 1 through 31 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closing at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas.

Shop and Dine

Be sure to stop by the Garden Gate Shop for a huge selection of holiday gifts, from plants in bloom to gardening tools, jewelry to fine chocolates, books for everyone on your list, home furnishings, art, clothing and much more.  

You’ll also find unexpected treasures at the Little Shop Around the Corner, the Garden’s antique and collectibles resale shop, located at 4474 Castleman Ave. Take advantage of special holiday pricing during the month of December.

The Little Shop Around the Corner is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed Sundays and Mondays.

For a gift that lasts all year, give the gift of Garden membership. Find out more by calling (314) 577-5118.

Unwind from the holiday festivities and shopping by enjoying lunch or a cup of cocoa at the Sassafras café, Missouri’s first certified “green restaurant,” offering delicious soups, salads, sandwiches and more from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.

Visitor Information

Holiday hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, closing early at 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve; closed Christmas Day.

Admission to the Missouri Botanical Garden is $8; St. Louis city and County residents enjoy discounted admission of $4 and free admission on most Wednesday and Saturday mornings until noon. Children ages 12 and under and Garden members are free. The Gardenland Express show is an additional $5 per person, ages 3 and older.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is located at 4344 Shaw Blvd. in south St. Louis, accessible from Interstate 44 at the Vandeventer exit and from Interstate 64 at the Kingshighway North and South exit. Free parking is available on site and two blocks west at the corner of Shaw and Vandeventer.

Katy October 31, 2012 at 09:10 PM
These sound like awesome things to do!!!

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