Phipps Conservatory’s Winter Flower Show and Light Garden
If you asked me to name my favorite place in Pittsburgh to visit during the holidays, it would be the Phipps Conservatory, specifically its breathtaking Winter Flower Show. Although I’ve been to the Phipps numerous times over the years, I had only ever seen the Winter Flower Show years ago (back in 2009) so last December when trying to think of a fun (and indoor) holiday activity we could do pre-Christmas, the Phipps came to mind.
Just as I remembered, the Winter Flower Show was gorgeous and its bevy of stunning poinsettias brought back memories of my time in Mexico at Christmastime. In Mexico poinsettias grow as if there’s no tomorrow, so not only are they inexpensive to purchase, but you can also find them just about anywhere for purchase (including on the side of a steep, hilly road in Cuernavaca for starters).
As much as I loved the flower show (held inside the conservatory in the INDOORS portion), it was the light garden that was undoubtedly my favorite part of my visit to Phipps. This didn’t exist back in 2009 and honestly, I wasn’t even that aware of it (we visited on a Saturday afternoon in December so naturally it was mobbed). But as we were going through the rooms, signage pointed to the light garden which I saw would take you outside.
Honestly, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from said light garden; I thought it was a little side add-on. But then off a little ways, I saw lights, massive collections of lights, and I knew we were in for a real treat. We were there just as it was starting to get dark so it was neat to go from “dusk to dark” as we walked through the grounds of the light garden.
Don’t get me wrong, the indoor flowers were spectacular (no surprise) but it was the light garden that truly impressed me. It was so quintessentially “holidayesque” and was a lot of fun to photograph too. If you only have time (or money to treat the whole family) to one activity/outing in Pittsburgh this holiday season, then let it be the Phipps Conservatory’s Winter Flower Show and Light Garden.
Fun fact-As my camera’s battery died about five minutes into our visit, all of the photos you see below were taken with my iPhone 5s.
Tips for visiting!
-The Light Garden is open from 5-11 PM (5PM is roughly the time for dusk in Pittsburgh in December and 11PM is when Phipps closes). I found going in the late afternoon meant that crowds were not too terrible as opposed to the early evening. But if you have your heart set on seeing the Light Garden, then don’t arrive at Phipps at 11 in the morning (unless you plan to stay there all day which you can 100% do once you’ve bought your ticket!)
-You can reserve timed tickets in advance through Phipps’ website (this is required during peak times)
-Parking at Phipps is somewhat limited. There are some metered spots but Phipps is offering valet parking during weekend days from now until January 7 and also all during Christmas week. There are also numerous parking garages in the nearby Oakland neighborhood, but these will require a bit of a walk to Phipps.
-Dress accordingly when visiting the Light Garden. At least last year (when I visited), there was a hut selling mulled wine, cider, hot chocolate, beer, and soft drinks along with some snacks. I definitely felt it added to the ambiance, even if it was another money making gimmick!
-Admission to the Phipps isn’t cheap, especially if you’re bringing the whole family. But believe me when I say it’s worth it and definitely a fun for all ages holiday activity. Children especially will love the massive indoor train display.
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