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There’s just something about model trains and Christmas lights that set the mood for the holidays. Every year, the holiday garden railway display sets the mood for the season and is a Morris Arboretum Christmas tradition.
The trains and lights captivate the hearts of children…and those young at heart. Over 20 different G-scale model trains circulate on over a quarter mile of track throughout this garden display. The trains cross bridges over water and circulate under twinkling holiday lights in the display that covers nearly an acre and is one of the best Christmas light displays in the city.
One of the highlights of the Morris Arboretum Holiday Garden Railway is the replica buildings throughout the miniature landscape. Each of the buildings in the garden is a model of an actual building in the city. There’s an Independence Hall, one of the homes in Elfreth’s Alley, Philadelphia City Hall and William Penn statue, one of the Boathouse Row buildings and the Fairmount Water Works, the LOVE statue, a Rocky statue, and many more Philly icons.
The trains run at ground level on the hillside – making certain that they run the rails at eye level for kids of all ages. Parents have love taking pictures of their kids amidst the railroad making perfect photos for social media or holiday cards. The event is of the best Christmas experiences in the area and has been a holiday tradition for many families since it first started in 1998.
The Morris Arboretum Garden Railway is open during the holidays November 24 through December 30, 2023. Visitors can see it during the day from 10:00am-4:00pm daily as part of the regular admission ticket.
But for a truly special visit, come during the Holiday Garden Railway Nights. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings from 4:30pm-8:00pm and Thursdays from 5:00pm-6:00pm, visitors can experience the trains and the festive holiday lights during the evenings. The evening program requires an extra ticket. Tickets are $17 for member adults and $10 for member children. Non-member prices are $22 for adults and $12 for children. Tickets can be booked here and often sell out well in advance.
Hot chocolate, coffee, candy and snacks are available for purchase at the kiosk near the Visitor Center & Shop. The hot beverages make a nice way to warm up on cold evenings.