I’ve been putting off checking out Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park. I was concerned about the crowds, as I tend to be fairly cautious with COVID restrictions.
Then I was a little overwhelmed by the price. At $22 each, I thought it might be a little steep. If I had little kids I guessed it would be alright, but it didn’t feel like a priority with my grown children. Then a few times I went on the site too late, only to find the tickets sold out for the evening.
An Opportunity to Experience Conservatory Aglow
Last night, I finally connected on an opportunity. Two of my three girls were available and there were still tickets on the site. I reasoned that I would get some nice pictures for the blog and that we’d get to spend some time together.
Let me first say that the experience is worth every penny. It was one of my favorite walk-through light displays ever. And, I might add, the girls did get a $3 per person price break with their college IDs.
To begin, I must say they are very conscious of the COVID restrictions. You start by purchasing your tickets online for a specified appointment time. This kept crowds to a minimum and I don’t think we came within six feet of another group all evening. Face coverings are required both indoors and out.
Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park
We began by checking in at the front desk and from there, exited into a world of rainbow lights. The rainbow tunnel, or rainbow road as I’ve come to call it, is just outside the door. You pass through the tunnel into gardens.
After passing through the rainbow tunnel, you’ll come upon the three ornament trees on your left. These were beautiful and elegant, I loved them. I took a few photos, which didn’t do them justice.
Paul Busse Garden Railway
Another favorite was the Paul Busse Garden Railway. According to the Conservatory’s site, the model trains make their way along over 1100 feet of track, which runs through a little world of villages and castles.
The trains pass overhead and underfoot through four different themes: Fairytale Land, Wild West Town, Who Lives Here (animal themed) and the European Travels seciton. We spent quite a bit of time here, tracking the trains and watching them travel through the snowy landscape.
We travelled onward to the Children’s Garden. The area was brightly lit with all areas of Christmas bulbs. There were several tunnels all aglow for the smallest visitors. And even though I don’t have any littles at this point, it looked like a lot of fun!
Back Inside the Conservatory
After our walk around outside, we found our way back in to the Conservatory through the Palm House. The Palm House is always one of my favorites and it was a unique experience being there after dark.
It’s beautiful from both inside and outside and houses a number of large palms. There’s a little seating area tucked into a corner, and a small fountain near the center. But the elegant staircase, currently lit up with blue lights, steals the scene for me.
Coming up the stairs, we came right into the Holiday Blooms collection. The area is filled with poinsettias and several holiday scenes, which are all picture perfect. But of course, the main draw for this area is the ten foot tall Christmas tree made entirely of red poinsettias.
If you are so inclined, there are a few areas here that are ideal for taking pictures. And the drop in crowds due to the 2020 restrictions, provide you enough time to snap a few shots. Just be respectful of other patrons.
Biomes at the Conservatory
Following the specially decorated areas of the Conservatory, the girls and I did a quick walk through of the remainder of the Conservatory. I am partial to the Himalayan Mountain Biome with its moderately cool temperature. I also love the cave or tunnel which includes a ceiling highlighted by Chihuly glass and a waterfall.
Still a little chilled from our walk outside, the girls were relieved to step into the Rainforest. My oldest is a fan of the large, tropical plants and both girls appreciated the temperature.
When we stepped into the Desert Biome I was immediately transported back in time. Narrow steps leading through the rocks made this my girls’ favorite section when they were little. And the plants in this section are so different, it wasn’t hard for them to imagine that they weren’t in Ohio at all.
Lastly we visited the Pacific Island Water Garden. It’s beautiful and lush, full of waterfalls and a wonderful Chihuly glass collection. If you haven’t visited for Blooms and Butterflies, I highly recommend adding it to your spring bucket list. Most of the magic for that event, happens in here.
Experience Conservatory Aglow Today
Following our visit, we all agreed that the visit was worth both the wait and the cost. I highly recommend visiting in the evening so that you can enjoy both the Holiday Blooms and Conservatory Aglow exhibits. Be sure to purchase your tickets ahead of time, be there at your assigned time, and make certain everyone in your party is wearing a face mask.
Additionally, you’ll want to check the website ahead of time for special performance and event information. During the month of December there will be costumed characters, musical performances, ice carving, Santa visits and more.
And if you’re looking for additional light displays in Central Ohio, check out our tour of several Columbus sites with free admission. 2020 has been a rough year that finds many of us on a holiday budget. These free sites give you the opportunity to experience all the pageantry of Christmas without breaking the bank.
If you’re interested in learning more about the amazing programs hosted at the Conservatory, check out our article on Blooms & Butterflies. Every year in the spring, thousands of butterflies emerge and are released into the Conservatory.
Chistmas in Ohio
There’s so much to celebrate in Ohio during the holidays. If you’re near Dayton or on the western side of the state, check out the historic Clifton Mill lights. In Central Ohio, Christmas is a great time to take a tour of the Ohio Statehouse. And while you’re downtown, stop by the State Farm headquarters to view the nativity and check out the free lights at Columbus Commons. Lastly, you’ll want to check out the Conservatory Aglow at Franklin Park while you’re in town. It’s truly magical.
Thank you for FindingOhio with us. We hope that you and your family are enjoying a great holiday season. And, as always, we appreciate you sharing our contact to social media.