Arts & Entertainment and Travel & Tourism

Meijer Gardens lights up holiday exhibit

November 25, 2013
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Frederik Meijer Gardens prepares for holiday traditions
The 132-acre Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is one of the world’s 100-most-visted museums. Photo by William J. Hebert

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is opening the doors to its exhibit of global holiday traditions on Tuesday.

The exhibition, Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World, returns to the Meijer Gardens, from Nov. 26-Jan. 5.

Visitors to the exhibit can see more than 40 international holiday traditions, as well as the Railway Garden and holiday wonderland.

This year

This holiday season, the exhibit will focus on the tradition shared by so many cultures: decorating with natural materials.

“Many cultures use similar palettes of natural materials to decorate and celebrate the holidays,” said Steve LaWarre, director of horticulture at Meijer Gardens. “Seeds, wood, fruit and natural fibers can be found woven throughout different displays and decorated trees, within the Railway Garden and throughout the entire exhibition.”

For the first time, the exhibit will include the Korean hanbok: the traditional dress worn during Seollal, the Korean New Year and most significant holiday recognized by Korean families. With its vibrant natural silk and intricate details, the garment is the centerpiece of a re-designed display, which honors the historic Korean culture.

Also new this year, Meijer Gardens is offering families and groups the opportunity to reserve the trolley. Call 616-975-3151 to reserve a trolley.

Group rates are $45 for six people, $65 for eight people and $100 for 14 people.


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 Eid al-Fitr display, which celebrates the end of Ramadan.

The Railway Garden is also a favorite, and, as in previous years, it will meander through four lush indoor garden spaces, bringing together colorful plantings with storybook scenes.

The horticultural artistry complements the model trolleys, trains and handcrafted buildings, replicating over 30 Grand Rapids landmarks, designed by Paul Busse.

Visitors will be familiar with 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.

Meijer Gardens will also transform into a botanic wonderland with poinsettias, orchids and amaryllis, and horse-drawn carriage rides will move through the candle-lit Sculpture Park.


Meijer Gardens is offering family and group centered activities during the exhibit.

Horse-drawn carriage rides: Dec. 3, 10, 17-22, 5:30-9 p.m. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 616-975-3151. The cost is $65 per carriage for members and $90 per carriage for non-members, up to four adults.

The original Dickens carolers: Tuesdays, Nov. 26, Dec. 3, 10, 17, 6-8 p.m.

Santa visits: Tuesdays, Nov. 26, Dec. 3, 10, 17, 5-8 p.m.

Art activities for families: Tuesdays, Nov. 26, Dec. 3, 10, 17, 6-8 p.m.

Roof-top reindeer: Saturdays, Nov. 30, Dec. 7, 14, 21, 1-4 p.m.

Horse drawn sing-along trolley rides: Dec.17-21, 5:30-9 p.m.

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