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For two months out of the year the past 17 years, the New York Botanical Garden’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory has been transformed into an epic holiday scene that mixes plant-based architecture, a whimsical dose of imagination, and more than 1,320 feet of model train tracks. With today’s side deal, $10 gets you one adult ticket into this year’s wonderland known as the Holiday Train Show, a $20 value. While movies are never as good as the books, train shows are often way cooler than words can describe. Check out the pictures and videos for a visual rundown of the miniature world that awaits. Everything from the historic Yankee Stadium and old Penn Station to the Statue of Liberty is constructed from ruffage, and even the preview pictures and educational videos consist solely of cybernetically grafted vegetable matter.
Your Groupon is only valid between Tuesday, December 1 and Thursday, December 3 and between Tuesday, December 8 and Thursday, December 10 during regular hours (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). After arriving at the Botanical Garden, present your Groupon at the Visitor Center main entrance booth. Entry is timed so that new groups are allowed inside every 15 minutes to help disperse the crowd evenly, but once you’re in, feel free to spend as long as you like. Decide on your preferred timeslot. If there are no openings for your desired time, you will join the first available group with open spots. While you wait—or after you’re done at the train show—you’re free to roam around the roughly 250 acres that make up the Botanical Garden. There are other things happening on the grounds as well. Check out Gingerbread Adventures (between 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at Everett Children’s Adventure Garden) to see intricately handcrafted gingerbread houses, stop by the garden shop to pick up some last-minute stocking stuffers, or grab a bite to eat at one of the cafés.
A review in the New York Times describes last year’s show:
- Sitting like islands in a warm pool in the Haupt Conservatory’s central palm gallery at the New York Botanical Garden are two landmarks that welcomed early-20th-century immigrants to Manhattan: the main building of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. They seem appropriate here in the Bronx too, at the entrance to the annual Holiday Train Show, because this exhilarating exhibition makes you feel a little like an alien visitor just coming ashore; everything familiar is skewed and strange in the fragrant, humid air. – Edward Rothstein, New York Times
The New York Botanical Garden
As husband-and-wife botanists Nathaniel Lord Britton and Elizabeth Gertrude Knight Britton explored the majestic Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Elizabeth asked a question that would bloom into something huge.
"Why couldn't we have something like this in New York?"
When the couple returned, they threw themselves into exploring that idea. In 1891, the state set aside land for the project, and private financiers including Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and J. Pierpont Morgan matched the city's financial commitments. In 1896, Nathaniel Lord Britton became The New York Botanical Garden's first director.
Today, the garden's mission is to be "an advocate for the plant kingdom," aiming to lead the charge to document every species of plant and fungus on the planet. Varied terrains unfurl across its 250 acres, including rolling hills, waterfalls, and 50 acres of the forest that once blanketed New York City. All told, there are more than a million plants within 50 gardens and plant collections.
Visitors can learn how to manage their own plants at the Home Gardening Center, which opened in 2005, then enter the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory—a New York City landmark that was unveiled in 1902 as the country's largest Victorian-style glass house. Rotating exhibitions and family events give visitors a reason to come back every season, and there are plenty of hands-on activities for kids, such as digging in the dirt until they reach hot magma in the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden.