Meijer Gardens Celebrates the Holidays With More Than 40 International Traditions

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“Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around The World” on display November 20 – January 6

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Experience the magic of the holidays at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park with the annual “Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World” exhibition on display November 20 through January 6. More than 75,000 visitors from all over the nation welcome this exhibition as a holiday tradition, celebrating 42 international trees and displays, the enchanting Railway Garden and holiday wonderland that encompasses it.

Celebrating its 18th year, this exhibition draws visitors home for the holidays for an experience only Meijer Gardens can create.

This year’s focus highlights the much-loved Railway Garden, weaving through four lush indoor garden spaces, bringing together colorful plantings with storybook scenes. The one-of-a-kind horticultural artistry will complement the model trolleys, trains and handcrafted buildings featuring over 30 Grand Rapids landmarks. New additions to the display include: Meyer May House, Voigt House, Paddock Place (now Mangiamo!), Jersey Junction and Fifth Third Ballpark.

“Year after year, the Railway Garden has always held a special place in the hearts of visitors, including my own,” said Director of Horticulture Steve LaWarre. “As you step under the arched bridge and into the garden, size and scale is forgotten as the scent of cedar and the luxuriant flora surrounds you—it’s truly magical.”

With a nod to the forthcoming Japanese Garden, the Japanese display will be enhanced to feature the traditional doorway decoration, “kadomatsu.” Meaning “gate pine,” this display is placed at the entrances of homes and businesses to bring prosperity and good luck in the New Year. Composed of bamboo, pine and plum blossoms, each item represents a significant element sacred to the Japanese culture. Kadomatsu will welcome guests at the entrance of the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory.

“The kadomatsu is a breathtaking addition, which adds a unique quality to the Japanese display,” said Assistant Curator of Special Exhibitions Lisa Roo. “Its presence gives added cultural significance to the exhibition and makes for an unforgettable gateway into our conservatory.”

Mainstays of the exhibition include the Germany tree, adorned with handmade glass ornaments and homemade springerle cookies, the England tree—with antique Christmas cards and mistletoe—and the beautiful Eid ul-Fitr display, which celebrates the end of Ramadan.

Meijer Gardens transforms into a botanic wonderland with poinsettias, orchids and amaryllis. Carriage rides through the candle-lit Sculpture Park, the smell of evergreens as visitors enter the building and the sounds of carolers and hand bells make it a festive place to enjoy the holiday season.

A variety of family-friendly activities are offered throughout the exhibition.

Exhibition Activities

-Extended Holiday Hours: Open until 9 p.m. on December 18-22 and 26-29

-Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides: December 4, 11, 18-22, 5:30-9 p.m.
Reservations required, call 616-975-3151. Members $60 per carriage, non-members $90 per carriage (up to four adults). A $25 fee will apply for all cancellations and rescheduling.

-The Original Dickens Carolers: Tuesdays, November 20, 27, December 4, 11, 18, 6-8 p.m.

-Santa Visits: Tuesdays, November 20, 27, December 4, 11, 18, 5-8 p.m.

-Art Activities for Families: November 20, 27, December 4, 11, 18, 6-8 p.m.

-Roof Top Reindeer: Saturdays, November 24, December 1, 8, 15, 22, 1-4 p.m.

-Sing-A-Long Trolley Rides: December 18-22, 5:30-9 p.m.
No reservations required. Adults $8, children $5.

-Christmas and Holiday Themed Classes: Enjoy festive learning opportunities for adults and families. Fees apply. Visit for more information.

This exhibition is made possible by 40 sponsors including: The Meijer Foundation, Henry Mast Greenhouses, Inc., Botanic and Sculpture Societies of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Universal Forest Products, Inc., Mike and Sue Jandernoa and Michigan Christmas Tree Association.

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Images available upon request. Click here for thumbnails:

About Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

One of the world’s most significant botanic and sculpture experiences, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park serves more than 550,000 visitors annually. Meijer Gardens was recently ranked in the top 100 most–visited art museums worldwide by “Art Newspaper,” the leading publication in global art news. The 132–acre grounds feature Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory; one of the largest children’s gardens in the country; arid and Victorian gardens with bronze sculptures by Degas and Rodin; a carnivorous plant house; outdoor gardens; and a 1900–seat outdoor amphitheater, featuring an eclectic mix of world-renowned musicians every summer. The internationally acclaimed Sculpture Park features a permanent collection including works by Rodin, Moore, Bourgeois and Plensa, among others. Indoor galleries host changing sculpture exhibitions with recent exhibitions by Picasso, Degas, di Suvero, Borofsky, Calder and Dine.

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Andrea Wolschleger, Public Relations Manager
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