Morris Arboretum

Morris Arboretum

Connecting people, plants, and place.

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The Holiday Garden Railway

The Garden Railway is open for the season through Labor Day, Monday, September 3, and then on weekends only through Monday, October 8.



Garden Railway Events

Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 & SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 16
Included with garden admission.

Look for your favorite train characters among the whole steam engine gang from Sodor as they take over the Railway for the weekend.


Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends


About the Garden Railway

Visitors of all ages will be wowed by a quarter mile of track featuring seven loops and tunnels with fifteen different rail lines and two cable cars, nine bridges (including a trestle bridge you can walk under!), and bustling model trains, all set in the lovely garden of the Morris Arboretum. The display and buildings are all made of natural materials – bark, leaves, twigs, hollow logs, mosses, acorns, dried flowers, seeds and stones – to form a perfectly proportioned miniature landscape complete with miniature rivers. Each building, while an exact replica of the original, is unique in its design. Philadelphia-area landmarks such as a masterpiece replica of Independence Hall are made using pine cone seeds for shingles, acorns as finials and twigs as downspouts.

The Garden Railway is supported, in part, through the generosity of Gwen and Ed Asplundh and by a gift given in memory of Joe Shuttleworth. “Gwen and I are very pleased to support the wonderful Garden Railway. Ever since I was a kid, I have loved trains large and small. For years, I had a large train layout in my basement. There is something very special about an outdoor railway, especially the very unusual and beautifully done railway at the Arboretum. I enjoy watching the trains myself, but most of all, I enjoy watching the looks of delight on the faces of the other ‘kids’ young and old.” –Ed Asplundh

The Morris Arboretum’s popular Holiday Garden Railway returns Friday, November 23rd!

The Garden Railway is opening soon for the season and will be dressed in its wintery finest! Open through December 31, free with admission during regular hours. The Arboretum is closed on December 24, 25 & January 1.

Check for weather closings.


Railway Special Events

Holiday Garden Railway Nights

Fridays and Saturdays, December 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22
4:30pm - 7:30pm
Holiday Garden Railway
Ticket prices: Member adult $15, Member child $8, Non-member adult $19, Non-member child $10

Bask in the glow of thousands of sparkling lights at these magical evenings that have become an Arboretum and family tradition. Snacks and light fare will be available at the Compton Café. These are ticketed events that sell out quickly. Members may purchase tickets now, general admission timed tickets will be available beginning November 1.


The Daily Vacationer Visits the Holiday Garden Railway

Read about The Daily Vacationer's experience of the Holiday Garden Railway!



FAQs

Holiday Garden Railway

Visitors of all ages will be wowed by a quarter mile of track featuring seven loops and tunnels with fifteen different rail lines and two cable cars, nine bridges (including a trestle bridge you can walk under), and bustling model trains, all set in the lovely winter garden of the Morris Arboretum.

  • Are the trains inside or outside?

    The Garden Railway exhibit is an outdoor miniature display. It’s a quarter mile track with loops and tunnels surrounded by plants and twinkling lights.

  • Can you ride on the trains?

    No. The trains are miniatures, G-scale, which stands for garden scale; they are many times smaller than full size trains.

  • When can I see the trains?

    The Holiday Garden Railway is open daily, 10am-4pm, from the day after Thanksgiving until New Year’s Eve. The Arboretum is closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The trains cannot run in heavy rain or snow, or if the tracks are icy.

    Holiday Garden Railway Nights is a special ticketed event. The dates are Fridays, December 7, 14 and 21 and Saturdays, December 1, 8, 15, and 22. The event runs from 4:30 to 7:30pm. Due to limited parking, you must purchase tickets with specific arrival times.

  • Is the exhibit handicap accessible? Do you have wheelchairs?

    The site is wheelchair and stroller accessible, however the path within the site is narrow and has a downward slope. There are wheelchairs available. Please call ahead to reserve or check availability when you arrive.

Holiday Garden Railway Nights – Ticketed Event

Holiday Garden Railway Nights is a special ticketed event. The dates are Fridays, December 7, 14 and 21 and Saturdays, December 1, 8, 15, and 22. The event runs from 4:30 to 7:30pm. Due to limited parking, you must purchase tickets with specific arrival times.

  • How long should I plan on being there?

    It really depends on you. It takes about 10-15 minutes (depending on how quickly you walk) to walk from the Visitor Center to the Garden Railway site, and then however long you want to watch the trains, and back to the parking lot another 10-15 minutes.

  • Can I use PennCard for admission for me and my guests?

    No. This event requires an advance ticket purchase beyond regular admission, which is what the PennCard covers.

  • Are the trains running during the day too?

    Yes, the Holiday Garden Railway runs 10am-4pm daily from the day after Thanksgiving through December 31, 2018. The exhibit is included with regular admission. Only Holiday Garden Railway Nights are a separate advance purchase ticket. Morris Arboretum is closed on Dec 24 and Dec 25.

  • What is the difference between seeing the exhibit during the day or on a ticketed evening?

    The difference between the day and evening is that the twinkling lights are set against a darkening sky. The Holiday Garden Railway is magical any time you visit, but at night, the Railway takes on a more festive, enchanting appeal.

  • Can we come in early (before 4:30) and stay?

    No, the Holiday Garden Railway Nights requires a separate advance purchase ticket.

  • Why are the tickets timed?

    The tickets are for specific arrival times due to the Arboretum’s limited nighttime parking. If you cannot arrive within 15 minutes before or after your chosen arrival time you may be required to wait for available parking.

  • Do I have to leave at 7:30?

    Yes. The garden closes at 7:30pm. The lights are turned off and all staff leave at this time.

  • Why do members have to pay?

    This is an additional event beyond membership that requires additional staffing. Members may visit the Holiday Garden Railway anytime during the day, 10am-4pm.

  • Can we buy tickets at the door?

    Due to limited parking we will not be selling tickets at the door. Until the event is sold out, tickets will be available to purchase online.

  • Can I use my guest passes/access/library card?

    No. This is a ticketed event that requires payment beyond the normal garden admission.

  • Can I change/cancel my tickets?

    Tickets can only be used for the date and time purchased. Tickets are not transferable to another evening. Requests for refunds will be honored until 12pm of the Thursday preceding that weekend’s events. A $5.00 transaction fee will be charged for requested refunds. If you wish to attend on an alternate evening, you must repurchase tickets.

  • What happens if it is snowing or raining, or a storm is forecast?

    The safety of our visitors is our highest priority. Additionally, the trains cannot run in heavy snow or rain, or if the tracks are icy. If the event is cancelled due to inclement weather you will be notified by email and your purchase price fully refunded. If you wish to attend on an alternate evening you will have to repurchase tickets.

  • Is the Café open?

    Yes. The Compton Café will be open with hot cocoa and coffee, along with various tasty snacks for purchase.

  • Do I need to bring anything with me?

    This an outdoor exhibit so please dress appropriately for the weather. The path lighting from the Visitor Center to the Garden Railway is minimal so a flashlight may be helpful.

  • Is there anything else happening besides the trains in the evening?

    The treehouse canopy walk, Out on a Limb will be open to visit on your way to or from the Garden Railway. The remainder of the Arboretum is closed due to darkness. The Compton Café, Visitor Center and Shop will be open.


About the Holiday Garden Railway

The display and buildings are all made of natural materials – bark, leaves, twigs, hollow logs, mosses, acorns, dried flowers, seeds and stones – to form a perfectly proportioned miniature landscape complete with small streams. Each building, while an exact replica of the original, is unique in its design. Philadelphia-area landmarks such as a masterpiece replica of Independence Hall are made using pinecone seeds for shingles, acorns as finials and twigs as downspouts.

The buildings are all meticulously decorated for the holidays with lights that twinkle along the tracks and around the surrounding landscape. The Garden Railway Display has become one of the Arboretum’s most beloved attractions since it opened in 1998, and the Holiday Garden Railway is quickly becoming a favorite holiday tradition for many families.

The Garden Railway is supported, in part, through the generosity of Gwen and Ed Asplundh and by a gift given in memory of Joe Shuttleworth. “Gwen and I are very pleased to support the wonderful Garden Railway. Ever since I was a kid, I have loved trains large and small. For years, I had a large train layout in my basement. There is something very special about an outdoor railway, especially the very unusual and beautifully done railway at the Arboretum. I enjoy watching the trains myself, but most of all, I enjoy watching the looks of delight on the faces of the other ‘kids’ young and old.” –Ed Asplundh


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Know Before You Go

For the safety of our visitors and to preserve the structural integrity of our tree collection, climbing or sitting on the limbs of trees is not permitted. Thank you!


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Alerts & Updates

As part of our commitment to historic preservation, the beloved Log Cabin flooring is being replaced this week, and the Log Cabin will be closed from Wednesday, October 3 - Friday, October 5.

The Arboretum is open as usual. Click here for hours.

Garden Railway trains are not running Saturday, September 8th and Sunday, September 9th due to inclement weather.

Please note: The Rose Garden is closed for maintenance every Thursday morning until noon.

Weather conditions may limit garden access to certain features even if the garden is open – please check the web site or call (215) 247-5777 for updates before visiting. Our visitors’ safety in the garden is our top priority. Therefore when inclement weather is predicted, we will make decisions about closing the garden accordingly.

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