Tag Archives: Brookside Gardens

Giveaway! Brighten Up the Holidays at Brookside’s Garden of Lights

brookside_house_lights

Dazzling light shows are a staple of the holiday season, and one of my very favorites in the area is Brookside Gardens’ walk-through exhibit, Garden of Lights. The gardens are transformed into a magical winter wonderland illuminated by more than one million twinkling colorful lights handwoven into original works depicting animals, flowers, and other natural elements. It will all be on view for visitors every night from November 25 through January 1 (with the exceptions of December 24 and 25). And I have two admission passes (admission is per car/van) to give away to a couple of lucky KFDC readers.

23104425281_cfeb999ed9_z

Stroll from garden to garden to enjoy long-time favorite displays, including Nessie the Serpent, flying geese, and butterflies. The gardens’ trees and hardscapes such as the Children’s Garden Treehouse and Wedding Gazebo are bedecked in a rainbow of colorful glimmering lights. It is a light display unlike any other. (Get a glimpse of it all in this post about one of our visits there.)

Inside the Conservatory, enjoy the sights and sounds of model trains as they wind their way through seasonal greenery and miniature reproductions of local landmarks such as the RedDoor Store in Sandy Spring, the Kensington MARC railway station, Glen Echo Park complete with Bumper Car Pavilion and 1921 Dentzel Carousel, and even Brookside Gardens’ Conservatories.

24312466456_986a72d356_z

A new fire pit on the South Terrace is the latest addition to Garden of Lights, where refreshments — think S’mores kits and hot cocoa — will be available for purchase. And nightly musical performances take place inside the Visitors Center.

Garden of Lights is located in Brookside Gardens at 1800 Glenallan Avenue in Wheaton, MD. It runs November 25, 2016 – January 1, 2017 (closed December 24 & 25). Hours are 5:30-9:30pm Sunday – Thursday, and 5:30-10:30pm Friday & Saturday. Admission is $25 per car/van Sunday – Thursday, and $30 per car/van Friday & Saturday.

* * * * *

Giveaway: For a chance to win one of the two admission passes to Brookside’s Garden of Lights, simply leave a comment below or enter through the KFDC Facebook page or on Instagram. The passes can be used on any date the exhibit is open. This giveaway will run through November 23, 2016, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

This post is sponsored by Montgomery Parks, however, I only promote events, places, and programs that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.

122 Comments

Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, Christmas, Exhibit, Giveaway, Holidays, Maryland, Outdoor, Seasonal, Sponsored Post, Trains, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Where to Play on the Weekdays: October 15-18

Taking in the autumn scenery at Brookside Gardens

Taking in the autumn scenery at Brookside Gardens



Tuesday – Visit the digs of first POTUS George Washington at Mount Vernon. Special tours are available throughout the day, or you can roam the grounds on your own. The estate and gardens are open daily 9am – 5pm. Admission is $17/adult, $8/ages 6-11, free for children 5 and under.

Wednesday – Get a nature fix, indoors and out, at Long Branch Nature Center. Peek inside terrariums for a close look at snakes, turtles, frogs, and toads, and see fish swim in a small indoor pond. If weather permits, continue your viewing outdoors at the larger pond and hike the nearby trails. Hours are 10am – 5pm (Tuesday – Saturday, 1-5pm Sunday), and admission is free.

Thursday – Wander around the beautiful grounds, play in the newly renovated Children’s Garden, and enjoy the start of fall foliage at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Md. The park is open sunrise to sunset, the Visitor Center 9am – 5pm. The conservatories are closed right now as they get ready for new exhibits. Admission is free.

Friday – Catch a performance of From Here to There at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. The show for the youngest theatre-goers is all about the joy of building bridges. (And knocking them down, too!) A free-play session at the end of the performance invites the children to explore the show’s props. Showtime is 10am .Tickets are $8. (If you can’t make it Friday, see it another day during its October 16-21 run.)

Leave a Comment

Filed under All ages, Animals, DC, Fall, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays

Plenty to Fancy at Brookside Gardens

Those are some pretty fancy wings

 

Butterflies are a huge part of Sasha’s girly-girl repertoire. Right up there with princesses, Hello Kitty, unicorns, and pink.  She squeals with earnest delight at the sight of anything pretty that flits delicately about, some of her favorite clothes are her “butterfly shirts,” and we’re getting ready to add decals of the dainty insects to her bedroom walls.

Suffice it to say, we have been looking forward to the “Wings of Fancy” exhibit at Brookside Gardens for awhile now. We would have visited earlier this summer had I not been waiting for Owen’s schedule to open up, so he could join us. Because even though a garden full of butterflies is the stuff Sasha’s fanciful dreams are made of, it’s also an enthralling sight for a nature lover like my boy. The timing actually worked out quite well, because Certifikid just debuted a deal for the exhibit, so we saved a few bucks on our outing, too.

Getting started in the Caterpillar Room

Getting started in the Caterpillar Room

We finally headed over to Brookside and the butterflies this afternoon and it was truly worth the wait.  Our visit started with an intro in the Caterpillar Room, where a staff member pointed out a few real caterpillars on plants, then showed us pictures of the butterflies they would become. From there, we entered the conservatory, where the first thing out of Sasha’s mouth was that squeal: “Look, butterflies!” Indeed.

One of many pretty sights

One of many pretty sights

Eye to eye with a butterfly

Eye to eye with a butterfly

Wingin' it

Wingin’ it

Nearly 20 species of butterflies from North America, Central America, and Asia fluttered around us and the colorful flowers and plants throughout the greenhouse. We walked around every inch of it, trying to spot a species we hadn’t seen yet, watching them reveal different patterns as they opened their wings, and just staring in amazement at the sheer number of them.

Butterfly headstand?

Butterfly headstand?

Butterfly makes landing

Butterfly makes landing

Sasha liked looking for her favorite “pink and yellow” butterfly, while Owen kept hoping one would land on him. We stopped by a station where they could hold specimens that were no longer alive (staff told us they’re sterilized) and  examine them through magnifying glasses. There are also cases containing cocoons, and when those butterflies hatch they’ll be released into the garden; we learned that a butterfly life is about two weeks long, so there is constant “turnover.”

Hands on in the garden

Hands on in the garden

A really close look

A really close look

Observing future butterflies

Observing future butterflies

It’s pretty hot inside the exhibit, they say about 10 degrees warmer than the outside temperature. This eventually took its toll, and we made our way out after about 30 minutes.  But that wasn’t the end of our Brookside visit.  We wandered the lovely grounds and, of course, had to stop by the Children’s Garden, where the kids played in the treehouse and hollowed out tree trunk/gnome hut.

The Children's Garden

The Children’s Garden

And we can’t go to Brookside without stopping by the turtle pond. The geese were hanging out, and they must be so used to people they let the kids get pretty close.

Strolling around the turtle pond

Strolling around the turtle pond

Who's in for Duck Duck Goose?

Who’s in for Duck Duck Goose?

From the gazebo over the pond, we watched the turtles and fish swim below, spotting all three snapping turtles (a small, medium, and large one) and many other kinds.

Too busy looking at turtles to notice the pretty view

Too busy looking at turtles to notice the pretty view

 

A lovely afternoon, to say the least. We left feeling  all aflutter. :)

Brookside Gardens is located at 1800 Glenallan Avenue in Wheaton, Md. Grounds are open daily from sunset to sundown. The Visitor Center is open from 9am -5pm, the conservatories from 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.

Wings of Fancy” is running through September 16. Hours are 10am – 4pm, but be sure to make sure it’s open before you go, as it has closed early on very hot days. Admission is $6/adults, $4/ages 3-12, free for 2 and under. Certifikid currently has a deal for weekday admission for one adult and one child for $6.

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: May 29 – June 1

Fun takes shape at the MathAlive! exhibit

 

Tuesday – Add a museum exhibit to the weekday mix and go see MathAlive! at the Smithsonian’s Ripley Center before it closes June 3. Admission is free.

Wednesday – Walk among hundreds of butterflies at Brookside Garden’s “Wings of Fancy” exhibit.  Witness the butterfly life cycle and see species from North America, Central America, and Asia.  Admission is $6/adult and $4/ages 3-12, free for children 2 and under (though strollers are not permitted). Tickets and parking are available at the Visitors Center and Conservatories.

Thursday – See Five Little Monkeys, Adventure Theatre’s latest show that audiences of all ages will find entertaining.  Tickets are $18 and still available for Thursday’s show as this post goes live.

Friday – Visit the Maryland Youth Garden at the National Arboretum. Stroll among a variety of plants and flowers, till soil in the compost station, and have some fun in the natural play space. Admission is free.

 

2 Comments

Filed under All ages, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Outdoor, Park, Spring, Theatre, Weekdays

The KFDC 2011 Guide to DC’s Best Holiday Events

Season's Greenings at the U.S. Botanic Garden

 

DC doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the holidays. There are options galore for celebrating the season, many of them annual events that quickly become family traditions.  See model trains wind through miniature Christmas villages, drive through dazzling light displays in the woods, have a cool experience (literally) with interactive sculptures in ice. Some of the fun begins as soon as this weekend, so bookmark this page (along with this one featuring live entertainment) and start making some holiday plans.

Season’s Greenings
Where:U.S. Botanic Garden
When: November 24 – January 2
Admission: FREE
If my blog stats are any indication, this is easily DC’s most popular holiday attraction; searches for the Botanic Garden’s seasonal exhibit exceeded all other topics last year. And I can’t say I’m surprised. Season’s Greenings is an annual delight for all ages. The conservatory exhibit features Washington landmarks constructed from plant materials and one of the city’s largest Christmas trees. But the highlight, hands-down, is the garden railway, which never fails to impress and enchant with intricate, imaginative designs. This year, try to guess “Who Lives Here” in the whimsical animal houses along the mini-train route. For even more holiday magic at the garden, there are concerts most Tuesday and Thursday evenings in December, when the USBG stays open until 8pm.  For more on the seasonal favorite, read this KFDC review from last year.

Holiday on the Ellipse
Where: The Ellipse, President’s Park
When: December 1 – January 1
Admission: FREE
This should have a permanent spot on everyone’s DC holiday repertoire. The National Christmas Tree, the National Menorah, Santa’s Workshop, plus trains and displays representing all 50 states are a must-see during the season. Kids will especially love visiting Santa in his adorable little cottage for a peek at his operations and a photo op on his lap (read about our experience there last year), which is open at select times, usually through Christmas Eve. And the rest of it lit up at night with the White House and Washington Monument glowing in the distance makes for a dazzling holiday scene.

Trains loop the National Christmas Tree

Christmas on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor
When: November 18 – January 8
Admission: FREE, though some activities cost extra
National Harbor goes all out during the holidays. ICE! might be the big attraction, but there’s way more to do there to warrant a visit without the frozen entertainment. Most of it takes place in the Gaylord National Resort, which is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with a spectacular glass Christmas tree, nightly tree lightings starting November 25, the Potomac Express train offering rides for guests, photo ops with Santa, indoor snowfalls, fountain shows, and more. (Read about our experience there last year.) Afterward, shop the holiday market on American Way (open Saturdays & Sundays November 26 – December 18 or grab a bite at one of the Harbor’s many restaurants.

ICE!
Where: National Harbor
When: November 18 – January 8
Admission: Mon-Thurs $25/adult, $20/kids; Fri-Sun $35/adults, $25/kids; 3 and under are free. Get 50% off with this LivingSocial deal while it lasts!
Technically, this is part of Christmas on the Potomac, but it’s supposedly such a huge spectacle in itself, that it deserves its own write-up. And since I have yet to experience it myself (as explained in this post last year), here’s the description from the website: “Gaylord National’s popular ICE! winter holiday attraction returns with an all-new, hilarious theme: ICE! featuring DreamWorks’ Merry Madagascar. From Nov. 18 to Jan. 8, the DreamWorks Animation holiday TV special will be brought to life in an interactive world of colorful ice sculptures carved entirely from TWO-MILLION pounds of ice. Relive the story as you stroll through this amazing attraction featuring scenes such as how Santa and his reindeer crash-landed onto the island of Madagascar, and why Alex, Marty, Gloria, Melman and the wacky penguins must figure out how to save Christmas by delivering all the presents themselves. Even the mischievous lemur King Julien learns the true meaning of the holiday and manages to get himself off the “naughty list” once and for all. Tickets can be purchased in advance online, and there are timed entries are every half-hour.  Hours vary by day, so be sure to check the schedule when you plan to go.

National Menorah Lighting
Where: The National Ellipse
When: December 20, 4pm
Admission: FREE, but you must request tickets
As I noted in this post from last year, it’s tough to find family Chanukah events open to the public in the area. But they do happen, and this is a nice one.  Along with the lighting, there will be entertainment by the U.S. Marine Band as well as Dreidelman and the Macabees. If you don’t mind waiting in line afterward, stay for latkes and donuts. Tickets are free, but you need to request them in advance. Go here to get yours.

Come light the National Menorah

Christmas at Mount Vernon
Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: November 25 – January 6
Admission: $15/adults, $7/ages 6-11, free for ages 5 and under
The special daytime holiday program at George Washington’s homestead includes 12 Christmas trees, a gingerbread Mount Vernon, historical chocolate-making demonstrations (and tastings!), and more.  Guests will also have the chance to tour the rarely opened third floor of the mansion to learn how the first First Family celebrated Christmas.  And outside, Alladin the camel will be on view to recall the camel ol’ George himself bought for 18 shillings in 1787 for his guests’ enjoyment at Christmas.

Holiday Train Show
Where: Union Station
When: November 22 – January 2
Admission: FREE
The Holiday Train Show located in the Main & West Halls features a new model train display for the first time at Union Station in 15 years. MTH Electric Trains, a leading model train manufacturer in Columbia, Md., is providing the locomotive exhibit that consists of model trains from every railroad era and includes trains from Europe and other parts of the world.

Holiday Festival of Trains & Toys
Where: B&O Railroad Museum
When: November 25 – December 31
Admission: $14/adults, $12/seniors (60+), $8/ages 2-12 free for B&O members
This is a venue dedicated to locomotives, so you know the holiday model train exhibit is going to be special. So much so, it changes throughout its run featuring new displays from various Model Railroad Exhibitors every few days. The exhibit opens the day after Thanksgiving with the arrival of Santa in the Roundhouse at 10:30am. On weekends through December 18, guests can enjoy train rides with Santa and Frosty the Snowman along with crafts and choral performances. Train rides are $2/adults, $1/children, free for B&O Members.

Holly Trolley Fest
Where: National Capitol Trolley Museum
When: November 26 – December 18, Saturdays & Sundays only
Admission: $7/adults, $5/ages 2-17 (includes unlimited rides)
Guests can ride with Santa on the street cars and enjoy the model garden railway and holiday village inside the museum. Of course the est of the museum, offering a glimpse into the history of street cars, including a Hall displaying different cars from around the region and Europe. Visit the website for directions museum.

ZooLights
Where: National Zoo
When: November 25 – December 11, December 16 – January 1
Admission: FREE
Every year, thousands of environmentally-friendly light and animal exhibits transform the Zoo into a holiday wonderland.  The highlights are dozens of animal light displays, and this year there will be an “iceless” skating rink (made of an eco-friendly synthetic skating surface) in the Picnic Pavilion Guests can also enjoy entertainment and a special train ride for children, special talks by animal keepers, Zoo-themed model trains displays, and the gingerbread habitat contest entries on display in the auditorium.  The Small Mammal House, Great Ape House, Reptile Discovery Center, Think Tank, and Kids’ Farm will be open every night. Skating and train rides cost extra: $5 to skate, $2 skate rentals, $3 train rides.

Watkins' drive-thru light show

Festival of Lights
Where: Watkins Regional Park
When: November 25 – January 1, 5-9:30pm nightly
Admission: $5/car, FREE on December 25
This spectacular holiday drive-through event of more than one million twinkling lights has been dazzling holiday-goers for 25 years. This is great way to get into the holiday spirit from the comfort of your car – pop some holiday music into the CD player, turn on the seat warmers, and take in the illuminated scenes. New festival features include Santa flying a helicopter and driving a fire truck.

Symphony of Lights
Where: Symphony Woods, Merriweather Post Pavilion
When: November 21 – January 1, 6-10pm nightly
Admission: $20/car
Called a “woodland wonderland,” this beautiful display of more than 70 larger-than-life, animated and stationary light creations is a local holiday tradition for many. Cruise along the 1.4-mile route through the Symphony Woods in downtown Columbia and enjoy the twinkling lights as you go.

Garden of Lights
Where: Brookside Gardens
When: November 25 – January 8, with noted exceptions
Admission: $20/car Mon-Thurs, $25/car Fri-Sun
Visualize close to one million twinkling colorful lights shaped in imaginative displays throughout the gardens. Enjoy the four seasons illuminated as giant summer sunflowers, autumn leaves, winter snowflakes, spring flowers, rain showers, and more. Walk along the easily accessible paths and you’ll see what sets this light show apart from others; it’s the hundreds of wrapped trees and shrubs, beautifully lighted gazebos, cascading fountains, and the individually formed displays in the shapes of blooming flowers and wild animals. Look for moving displays such as a flock of geese, or an 11-foot giraffe covered with 9,000 lights. Open weekdays 5:30-9pm, with last car admitted at 8:30pm, weekends (Friday – Sunday) 5:30-10pm, with last car admitted at 9:30pm. Closed December 24 & 25, and January 2-5.

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights
Where: Alexandria City Marina
When: December 3
Admission: FREE
Alexandria’s harbor lights up when more than 50 illuminated boats cruise the Washington Channel to the historic waterfront. Pre-parade festivities at the Alexandria City Marina begin at 4pm with Santa arriving by fireboat at 4:15pm. The boat parade begins at 6pm. The Marina is located at Cameron Street in Old Town.

Winter Lights Festival
Where: Seneca Creeek State Park
When: November 25-26, then nightly December 2-31
Admission: $12/car Tues-Thurs, $15/car Fri- Sun
The 16th Annual Winter Lights Festival will feature more than 380 illuminated vignettes and 65 animated displays in a 3.5 mile drive through beautiful Seneca Creek State Park. Theme areas include Winter Woods, Teddy Bear Land, Victorian Village, North Pole, Toyland, and Penguin Cove. Proceeds Benefit Local Charities.

Holiday Trains and Planes
Where:  College Park Aviation Museum
When: December 17 – December 23
Admission: 4/adults, $3/seniors, $2/ages 2-18, under 2 are free
During the holiday season the College Park Aviation Museum gets ready for the festivities as miniature trains, villages, tunnels, and depots spark the imagination and bring history to life. The National Capital Trackers bring a fascinating and constantly moving display of model railroads.

Holiday Entertainment
Take your pick of The Nutcracker productions, see Ebenezer Scrooge on stage, rock out or sing along to holiday tunes, discover celebrations around the world — there are shows to suit all theater preferences, ages, and wallets. See this recent KFDC post has details on live entertainment to be enjoyed this holiday season.


Vacation Rentals - Ocean - 468x60

 

22 Comments

Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, Babies, Christmas, DC, Festival, Free, Gradeschoolers, Holidays, Hotel, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Outdoor, Park, Preschoolers, Preteens, Seasonal, Trains, Union Station, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter