All aboard! Two new train displays and a trackless train will enchant visitors at this year's Holiday Lights at the Garden, opening Nov. 28 at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont.
The garden-scale model trains, set up by the Metrolina Model Railroaders, will be displayed in the new Orchid Conservatory and in the visitor pavilion.
“We wanted an interesting way to feature the Conservatory since it is new to Holiday Lights,” executive director Kara Newport said in a release. “When we made the decision to include trains in the conservatory landscape, we decided to carry the theme to other parts of the event.”
“Everyone loves trains,” added marketing director Jim Hoffman. “We wanted to do something different in the conservatory, and we thought if we're going to commit to this, let's carry it over with several other things, too.”
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Guests will be able to ride the Garden Express, a short trackless train skirting the edge of the light display.
Now in its fourth year, Holiday Lights at the Garden will run Tuesdays through Sundays, Nov. 28-Dec. 28.
The display will feature nearly 600,000 lights, beginning at the garden entrance on New Hope Road. Inside the Robert Lee Stowe Visitor Pavilion, the crowd favorite 16-foot tree with more than 300 orchids will again be showcased.
Guests can enjoy a walking tour through a dazzling light display that winds through six separate gardens, the Orchid Conservatory and surrounding landscapes.
The Ice Princess will reign over The White Garden, which will be transformed into an icy wonderland. Pergolas with lighted wisteria and other simulated natural elements will lead to the Cottage Garden with delicate rose lights. Trees of all sizes will be displayed on the Four Seasons Lawn, including a stunning, 30-foot tree of lights.
“The setting is very unique,” Hoffman said. “It combines a short driving tour with a longer walking tour. We add innovative things every year.”
Many special activities also are planned.
Santa will take a break from his North Pole duties to visit the gardens at 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays throughout the run of Holiday Lights. Guests will enjoy hot chocolate, coffee or cider at the Garden's new coffee bar while they listen to holiday music in the Great Hall. Carriage rides will clip-clop through a portion of the garden display Friday through Sunday evenings for an additional fee.
Entertainers will include a bell choir and recorder ensemble, a gospel choir, holiday standards on piano and musicians ranging from blues to Americana, jazz and opera.
In addition, two special events are planned.
Santa's Workshop, which replaces Breakfast with Santa from past years, will be held 3-5 p.m. Dec. 6 and Dec. 13. Youngsters will enjoy an afternoon snack, cookie decorating and creating a small topiary to give as a gift. Santa will read and lead a sing-along, and rides on the Garden Express will run along the edge of the light display. All ages are welcome.
A formal Holiday Tea will be held Dec. 14.