• Santa and s'mores at botanical garden's annual holiday display


    BELMONT, N.C. - The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden's annual Holidays at the Garden display promises surprises with a new festive display of Christmas trees, a lighting display with a natural flair, and a touch of warmth offered by tasty s'mores enjoyed beside a glowing fire, according to a news release.

    Also new this year, the garden's Four Seasons Lawn will showcase a 30-foot-tall Norway spruce, harvested from the North Carolina mountains and one of the largest live, cut Christmas trees on display in the state.

    The event will run through Dec. 31.

    Those who have made this event a holiday tradition can still enjoy favorites such as the 16-foot-tall Orchid Tree, made of more than 300 live orchids. Children can visit Santa in a sweet spot of his very own or make a nature-based craft with Mom or Dad.

    Santa will be at the garden Thursday through Sunday and the week before Christmas through Dec. 23. Free Christmas Craft activities are offered nightly.

    The garden will shine brightly with a half million lights -- featuring energy-efficient LEDs -- that combine contemporary and traditional displays with accents on nature. Brilliant white lights will sparkle in the White Garden, while the Canal Garden will brighten everybody's spirits with dozens of Christmas trees, creating a proverbial wintertime forest in the formal gardens.

    More than 20,000 white pansies will blanket the Garden, making a white Christmas more than just a dream.

    Visitors can warm up in the Orchid Conservatory, reveling in colorful and blooming tropical plants while enjoying a new garden-themed scale-model train display with topiaries of a teddy bear, reindeer and more.

    The Visitor Pavilion will feature hot drinks and tasty treats in the coffee bar operated by Belmont's own Caravan Coffee. In addition, the Metrolina Model Railroaders have designed a train display based on Southern Railway's Saluda Mountain Grade, the steepest mainline grade in the country, which is located in the mountains of North Carolina.

    Back on the Four Seasons Lawn, guests can enjoy live entertainment Thursday through Sunday featuring the a cappella group Queen City Groove, Suzuki Strings and the Gaston String Orchestra, jazz ensembles, hand-bell choirs, gospel groups and more.

    Southern Breezes will offer carriage rides through a portion of the display Thursday through Sunday for an additional fee.

    Holiday extras include Santa's Workshop on Saturdays, Dec. 8 and 15, and Holiday Tea on Sundays, Dec. 9 and 16. For details and advance registration information, visit www.DSBG.org.

    Admission to Holidays at the Garden is $12 for adults, $11 for seniors 60 and older, and $6 for children 4-12. Members are free on Tuesday evenings, half-price Wednesday through Monday. Hours are noon to 9 p.m. with lights on at 5 p.m. nightly. The garden is closed on Christmas Day.

    For a complete schedule of events click here.

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    Santa and s'mores at botanical garden's annual holiday display