Every Christmas season is a magical experience at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park with their annual “Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World” exhibition.

Running Nov. 26 through Jan. 4, 2015, visit Meijer Gardens to experience over 40 international trees and displays, the enchanting Railway Garden and the holiday wonderland that encompasses it.

The 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.

A new addition this year is a vibrant display from Ghana, home to Grand Rapids’ African sister city, Ghana's 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.

Dean Van Dis

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.

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.

Exhibition Activities

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.

“Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World” is made possible by Consumer’s Energy and the Meijer Foundation along with 36 sponsors including: Botanic and Sculpture Societies of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and Henry Mast Greenhouses, Inc. The Railway Garden is made possible by Warner Norcross & Judd, LLP.