When I first moved here almost 18 years ago as a young bride, one of the first places my new mother-in-law took me was Longwood Gardens.
I had never seen such incredible gardens. I fell in love. I quickly learned of Pierre duPont and his incredible philanthropy and how his legacy has impacted our area in so many ways, and Longwood Gardens became a place I took everyone who came to visit me.
I have photos of myself at Longwood many times over those first few years of marriage with various friends and family members who came to visit. Of course that was before the digital age so my photos are all cut into shapes and glued into albums, adorned with stickers (and thus unbloggable).
Over the years our visits to Longwood Gardens have become less frequent, but I’ve been back the last two Christmases with the kids and had a blast. As beautiful as the gardens are in the warmer months, there is nothing like Longwood after dark at Christmastime. It is the most exquisite display of Christmas lights I’ve ever seen. It’s hard to capture without a good camera (and a tripod and some knowledge of photography) but I did the best I could with my iPhone.
I was invited to see A Longwood Christmas again this year, but this time it wasn’t my in-laws or my friend who works there that treated us. It was the marketing department of Longwood Gardens themselves. They invited a group of select bloggers to experience the 2012 edition of A Longwood Christmas and then to visit nearby Kennett Square with its shops and restaurants.
Between you and me (and the rest of the Interwebs), I was as excited to visit Kennett Square as I was to see Longwood Gardens again. I have heard so much about the historic Kennett and never been to see what all the fuss is about.
Last week was the event, and I had so much fun hanging out with friends and getting an insider’s look into both Longwood Gardens and Kennett Square. We first gathered in the Founder’s Room for drinks and hors d’oeuvres and heard a bit about the Christmas display this year and the Star Blogger Program. The Founder’s Room is a lovely gathering place for events and private parties. I’m tucking that tidbit of information away for future reference.
The food was as exquisite as the gardens, but my favorite part was the startini that they created especially for our event. How beautiful is this!?photo credit: A Life in Balance
They were kind enough to accomodate my gluten free diet so I had plenty to eat before we set off to enjoy the half million twinkling lights throughout the property.photo credit: Opera Singer in the Kitchen
We spent most of our time in the Conservatory, although we did take a quick stroll through the grounds before heading off to Kennett.
I was amazed at how uncrowded it was. I think I’ve always been on weekends, when it takes an hour to walk through the Conservatory but it was very pleasant on a Thursday night early in the Christmas season. You are advised to buy tickets for A Longwood Christmas in advance because they tend to sell out, especially on weekends.
Non-Peak days are your best bet, as prices are lower and crowds are lighter, and if you’re anti-crowd like me, you will tuck that little tidbit of information in the back of your mind.
Of course if you’re a member, there is no need to buy tickets! In fact, they even have Members Only hours on Mondays from 5-9 pm. That sounds like my cuppa tea! Happily, a membership to Longwood Gardens is part of the blogger program so I will be taking advantage of member benefits for the next year.
There are tons of special events during the holidays — organ sing alongs (their organ is one of their main attractions) choral performances, and the famed Breakfast with Santa, which I hear is actually sold out already. Boo, I was hoping to take advantage of that!
In the Conservatory, our favorite part was this incredible table scape.
Every tree is decorated differently. I’m always inspired by them but when I get home I can’t even begin to come close to replicating some of the ideas I see there.
Of course, we had to pose for a picture. We’re bloggers and that’s what we do!photo credit: The Centsible Life
Afterwards, we caravanned over to Kennett Square and enjoyed local wines and cheeses at the Flickerwood Wine Tasting Room. Then we were set loose in town to peruse the shops.
Many of the Kennett merchants opened up just for us, and we were able to wander around at our leisure. There wasn’t nearly enough time so I guess that means I’ll have to go back. I actually won a $50 gift card to Chantilly Blue so I will definitely be stopping in the next time I visit Longwood. I’d also like to spend more time in Frolic.
But the main reason I’ll be returning to Kennett is to get another one of Sweet Christine’s gluten free brownies.
These were as close to the real deal as I have ever had. AND they were nice enough to slip a couple of extras in my bag so I have been enjoying them all week. Yummy.
My good friend and fellow PSMMer, Steph Anderson organized this event, and I want to give her major kudos. It was such a fun night, and I’m so excited about being a part of the Longwood blogger program. Thanks also to Barb of A Life In Balance, Noelle of Opera Singer in the Kitchen and Kelly of The Centsible Life for letting me hijack their photos.