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 26 through January 4, 2015. Visitors from all over the nation visit Meijer Gardens to experience over 40 international trees and displays, the enchanting Railway Garden and the holiday wonderland that encompasses it.
This exhibition kicks off Meijer Garden’s 20th year which will focus on the theme, “Welcoming the World.” This year will include numerous celebration experiences, most notably the opening of The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden in June 2015.
This year’s “Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World” exhibition will highlight New Years’ traditions celebrated in Korea, Japan, Vietnam and China for an experience only Meijer Gardens can create.
“During this time of the year, so many of us are accustomed to our own family traditions,” said Director of Horticulture, Steve LaWarre. “The great thing about this exhibition is it really opens your eyes to many diverse worldly customs—some are very different and some are surprisingly similar.”
The Japanese kadomatsu, or gate pine is horticultural arrangement in pairs, representing male and female. This earthy display of bamboo, pine and plum blossoms welcomes ancestral spirits, protects from evil and invites prosperity into another year. The Korean hanbok is an authentic dress worn during important celebrations, including Seollal or Korean New Year, which is among the most significant Korean traditional holidays and is typically spent with family. Chinese New Year is a time for families to celebrate together with a reunion meal and to participate in the Lantern Festival. Families traditionally also thoroughly clean their homes to symbolically sweep out the past year’s bad fortune and make way for luck in the new year. Similarly, during Tet Nguyen Dan the Vietnamese celebrate the New Year by preparing special meals, cleaning their homes and honoring their ancestors.
A new addition this year is a vibrant display from Ghana, home to Grand Rapids’ African Sister City, the Ga District. Authentic, brilliantly woven kente and printed adinkra, handmade cloths mark the symbolic significance of the Ghanaian people’s colorful history, customs and religion.
The much-loved Railway Garden meanders through four lush indoor garden spaces, bringing together colorful plantings with storybook scenes. The unique horticultural artistry complements the model trolleys, trains and handcrafted buildings replicating over 30 Grand Rapids landmarks, designed by Paul Busse of Applied Imaging.
Visitors will find familiarity in the Fifth Third Ballpark created with willow light posts and elm bark seating, the Ada Covered Bridge with a cedar roof and willow trusses and the Meyer May House with oak bark siding and red ruscus leaves.
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. Horse-drawn carriage rides through the candle-lit Sculpture Park, the smell of evergreens as visitors enter the building and the sounds of carolers make it a festive place to enjoy the holiday season.
A variety of family-friendly activities are offered throughout the exhibition.
- Extended Holiday Hours: Open until 9 p.m. on December 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 26, 27, 29 and 30 (Please note: Meijer Gardens is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day).
- The Original Dickens Carolers: Tuesdays: November 25, December 2, 9, 16, 23, 6-8 p.m.
- Santa Visits: Tuesdays: November 25, December 2, 9, 16, 23, 5-8 p.m.
- Family Art Activities: Tuesdays: November 25, December 2, 9, 16, 23, 6-8 p.m.
- Roof Top Reindeer: Saturdays: November 29, December 6, 13, 20, 1-4 p.m.
- Holiday Gala: Thursday, December 4, 7 p.m.
- Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides: December 9, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 5:30-9 p.m. Reservations required, call 616-975-3151. Members $65 per carriage, non-members $90 per carriage (up to four adults). A $25 fee will apply for all cancellations and rescheduling.
- Horse–Drawn Sing-Along Trolley Rides: December 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 5:30-9 p.m. Walk-up rates without reservations are $8 for adults, $5 for children (seating is limited). Reserve the trolley by calling 616-975-3151. Group rates are $45 for six people, $65 for eight people and $100 for 14 people. $25 fee for all cancellations and rescheduling.
- Winter-time Walks: Tuesdays and Fridays (Nov. 25-Jan. 4), 10 a.m. Fee: Included with admission. Winter in the Children’s Garden can be chilly, but fun. Bundle up and join us on an outdoor interactive discovery walk to investigate the Children’s Garden in new ways. Then gather by the hearth in the Log Cabin to learn about winter stories with kid-friendly conversation.
- Christmas and Holiday Themed Classes: Enjoy festive learning opportunities for adults and families. Fees apply. Visit MeijerGardens.org/education for more information.
About Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
One of the world’s most significant botanic and sculpture experiences, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park serves over 600,000 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 158-acre main campus features 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, Oldenburg, Moore, Serra, Bourgeois and Plensa, among others. Indoor galleries host changing sculpture exhibitions with recent exhibitions by Picasso, Degas, di Suvero, Borofsky, Calder and Dine. In June 2015, the 8–acre Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park will open. Created by renowned designer Hoichi Kurisu, the garden will feature sculpture by Anish Kapoor, Zhang Huan and Guiseppe Penone, among others.