PHILADELPHIA â€“ The Morris Arboretumâ€™s popular Garden Railway Display returns the day after Thanksgiving as the Holiday Garden Railway display. Visitors of all ages will be wowed by a quarter mile of track featuring seven loops and tunnels with fifteen different rail lines and two cable cars, nine bridges (including a trestle bridge you can walk under), and bustling model trains, all set in the Arboretum's lovely winter garden.
The display and buildings are all made of natural materials â€“ bark, leaves, twigs, hollow logs, mosses, acorns, dried flowers, seeds and stones â€“ to form a perfectly proportioned miniature landscape complete with miniature rivers. Each building, while an exact replica of the original, is unique in its design. Philadelphia-area landmarks such as a masterpiece replica of Independence Hall are made using pinecone seeds for shingles, acorns as finials and twigs as downspouts.
The buildings are all meticulously decorated for the holidays with lights that twinkle along the tracks and around the surrounding landscape. The Garden Railway Display has become one of the Arboretumâ€™s most beloved attractions since it opened in 1998, and the Holiday Garden Railway is quickly becoming a favorite holiday tradition for many families. The Holiday Garden Railway opens the day after Thanksgiving and is open daily from 10am-4pm through Dec. 14 and 10am-5pm, Dec. 15-31, closed Dec. 24-25 and Jan. 1.
A special Holiday Garden Railway Grand Opening Celebration will be held 1-3 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 24, and will include the sounds of carolers. Kids and adults will also have the opportunity to make an ornament or decoration from natural materials to take home.
The Holiday Garden Railway is a great way to kick off the season and also serves as a fabulous a backdrop for your holiday greeting card, so bring your camera! The Railway is free with regular garden admission: $16 adults, $14 for seniors, students and youth (13-18) $7, children under age three and members free.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, catch more of the holiday spirit at Morris Arboretum with the Penn Glee Club who will treat visitors to holiday themed and seasonal songs, out in the winter garden.
Back by popular demand, the second annual Holiday Hat Parade will be held at 4 pm. Saturday, Dec. 15. Join in the fun as visitors don their favorite hat and parade from the Widener Visitor Center down to the Garden Rail to celebrate the start of extended viewing hours, until 5pm through Dec. 31.
For holiday gifts this season, donâ€™t forget The Shop at Morris Arboretum, which specializes in goods made from natural materials, environmentally friendly reuse of materials and items inspired by nature.
The Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania is located at 100 East Northwestern Ave. in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. The 92-acre horticulture display garden features a spectacular collection of mature trees in a beautiful and colorful landscape. The Arboretum features numerous picturesque spots such as a formal rose garden, Japanese gardens, swan pond, an elegant Fernery and the 2010 Best of Philly Award Winning Out on a Limb canopy walk that transports visitors 50 feet above the ground without climbing. The Morris Arboretum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Additional information is available at www.morrisarboretum.org.