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Spring Fever? Plan Your Visit to the Philadelphia Flower Show

An early March visit to the Philadelphia Flower Show won’t actually “cure” spring fever if you live in the northern tier of the United States or in Canada, but it might tide you over until real spring has sprung.

Tulips at Philadelphia Flower Show

There were plenty of tulips at the Philadelphia Flower Show when the theme was “Holland”.

One of the few years I missed visiting the Philadelphia Flower Show was the year our older son was born on March 8th during a snowstorm—across the street from the Flower Show. Because of Flower Show traffic, Baby Ben and I had to wait for 45 minutes in the hospital lobby for his father to make his way from the parking lot to pick us up to take us home.

The first Philadelphia Flower Show was held in 1829 and it has been a March fixture in Philadelphia since the 1920’s. Today, the Philadelphia Flower Show is the largest indoor flower show (and competition) in the world, typically pulling in over 250,000 attendees. The show has won many international awards.

By early March, Philadelphia residents, and indeed most residents of the northern United States and much of Canada, have about had it with Old Man Winter. We are especially miserable when it snows during March, the same month that marks the official start of spring.

Philadelphia Flower Show exhibit

The indoor exhibits at the Philadelphia Flower Show can be quite elaborate.

Winter weather is a double edged sword for the Philadelphia Flower Show organizers, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. On one hand, the end of winter longing for blossoming flowers is a draw, but snow and ice storms can also depress attendance.

Mother Nature lets us know who’s in charge. In 2016, on the early March day when I made my yearly visit to the Philadelphia Flower Show, the high temperature was a freaky record breaking  81 degrees Fahrenheit (27.2 degrees Celsius). In 2017, I trudged through ice and snow to get there after an early March Philadelphia snowstorm.

The Philadelphia Flower Show is held in the cavernous Pennsylvania Convention Center in Center City Philadelphia and is easily reached by public transportation. The Convention Center is next to the Reading Terminal Market, a good bet for lunch at a Philadelphia landmark.

If you want to make your visit to Philly a multi-day affair, the Pennsylvania Convention Center is also walking distance from colonial Philadelphia (Independence National Historical Park), and the museums along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. You can get your flower fix and channel your inner Rocky Balboa by running up the front steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Each year, the Philadelphia Flower Show has a theme. In 2016, the theme was Exploring America, in tribute to the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service. That year, more exhibits were “woodsy” rather than flowery.

In addition to being somewhat rabid sports fans (Fly Eagles Fly), Philadelphians are also traditionalists and there was some griping about there not being enough flowers. The Horticultural Society delivered abundant flowers the following year when the theme honored Holland.

Philadelphia Flower Show flowers

Near the end of a gray winter, you will want to take photos at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

If you plan to visit the Philadelphia Flower Show this year, you will be treated to the theme Wonders of Water. Show organizers plan many floral exhibits with indoor and outdoor water features.

If you like flowers and you like to shop, you’ll be able to check off both boxes when you plan your visit to the Philadelphia Flower Show. The Marketplace area of the show typically features over 180 vendors, selling all manner of crafts, jewelry, and house and garden supplies.

Philadelphia Flower Show Details

The 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show will run from March 3rd through March 11th. Tickets are available online at $29.95 for an adult ticket until March 1st when the online price goes up to $32 on weekdays and $35 on weekends.

Ticket prices at the on site box office are even heftier. There are reduced price tickets for students and children. Other ticket options are listed on the website, including tickets for visits before and after normal hours when the Flower Show is often quite crowded.

Location:  Pennsylvania Convention Center
12th and Arch Streets
Philadelphia, PA  19107

Nearest SEPTA Regional Rail station:  Jefferson Station (If arriving by Amtrak or NJ Transit Train, access SEPTA Regional Rail at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station)

Many Philadelphia area hotels offer packages.

Proceeds from the Philadelphia Flower Show go to support the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society which sponsors many community based initiatives throughout the year.

Have you ever attended an indoor flower show?

Suzanne Fluhr, Travel Editor

Suzanne Fluhr, Midlife Boulevard's travel editor, is a recovering Philadelphia lawyer, empty nester, wanderer, dog person and Zentangle® enthusiast. She also writes about Baby Boomer travels for the body and mind on her personal blog, Boomeresque. Instagram: Boomeresque2

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