Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is once again welcoming visitors to take in the sights and joys of the holiday season with the 28th annual University of Michigan Health-West: Christmas & Holiday Traditions exhibition.
From November 22, 2022 through January 8, 2023, guests are invited to visit Meijer Gardens to take in 46 trees and displays representing countries and cultures from across the globe. The adored and enchanting Railway Garden—and the holiday wonderland encompassing it—once again loops through three lush indoor garden spaces, among them the Grace Jarecki Seasonal Display Greenhouse and the Earl & Donnalee Holton Victorian Garden Parlor.
This year's exhibition illuminates the ways diverse cultures use light to uplift hope, warmth, faith, remembrance, gratitude, prosperity and more during the darkest days of the year. From the warm glow of the Hanukkah menorah to the bright flash of Diwali fireworks to the starry sparkle of Filipino Christmas lanterns, light is at the center of the celebration in holiday festivities around the world.
Many West Michiganders already know that each winter, Meijer Gardens transforms into a botanic wonderland with fresh poinsettias, evergreens and amaryllis—along with 350,000 sparkling lights (inside and out). The sights and sounds of cultural celebrations from throughout the world make it a place to reflect and enjoy the holiday season. Volunteers make much of the magic possible, having donated hundreds of hours to decorate trees and set up displays.
New to Meijer Gardens this year is the Seasonal Light Experience, an immersive audio and visual lightshow taking place in the Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater every half hour from 6-8 p.m., December 19–23 and 26-30. Visitors will want to bundle up for this unique outdoor experience, and while you're there, warm up with adult cocktails—or hot cocoa for the kids—along with hot handhelds, sweet treats, blazing fire pits, and playful glowing goods from the DeVos–Keeler Gift Shop pop-up, located nearby in the Peter C. & Emajean Cook Transportation Center.
The Railway Garden—offering unique horticultural artistry and water features—is complemented the trolleys, trains, and handcrafted buildings replicating 40 West Michigan landmarks. Five landmarks representing Grand Rapids Sister Cities around the world are also highlighted in the Railway Garden.
"This year we're showcasing traditions from around the world that incorporate light into their holiday celebrations," said Steve LaWarre, Vice President of Horticulture at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. "The brand new Seasonal Light Experience at the Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater is another can't-miss experience that's sure to bring joy to our guests, in addition to the familiar elements of this beloved exhibition."
In many cultures, the holidays bring people together in distinct and memorable ways difficult to capture in a display. Meijer Gardens again presents the original film joy, which explores the diverse festive fabric that is holiday life across our local communities. This film will be shown continuously in the Hoffman Family Auditorium and is also available on the Meijer Gardens YouTube channel.
For more information, visit MeijerGardens.org/calendar.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.
Photos courtesy of Dean VanDis and Johnny Quirin.