Garvan Woodland Gardens debuts new Winter Garden Festival

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Winter Garden Festival at Garvan Woodland Gardens
Winter Garden Festival at Garvan Woodland Gardens

Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs is a popular year-round destination. The beautiful blooms of flowers pop in the spring and summer and colorful fall foliage and flowers mark autumn in Arkansas. During the winter, the grounds usually become a whimsical wonderland with thousands of lights dotting the Garvan landscape for their very popular Holiday Lights event. However in light of current times, a new daytime Winter Garden Festival is stepping into the ring this go-around.

According to Garvan Woodland Gardens executive director Bob Bledsoe via a press release, “In light of the pandemic of 2020 and the need to provide an experience that allows for social distancing, it became obvious that the creation of a new daytime Winter Garden Festival would meet our goals of providing an event in which families could celebrate the winter holiday season with us just as in past years, yet in much safer circumstances.”

The event has a different flavor this year since the festival is during daytime hours and not at night. However areas that used to be inaccessible during Holiday Lights are now open to see, like the Perry Wildflower Overlook and the Evans Tree House. The Bob and Sunny Evans Tree House is located within the Evans Children’s Adventure Garden section of the Gardens and is an architectural marvel to behold. It is surrounded by pine and oak trees and from inside the elevated treehouse you have a birds eye view of the surrounding natural landscape. From here, you can walk to the beautiful and tranquil Hixson Nature Preserve and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. 

A whimsical year-round highlight of the Garvan is the Fairy Village. This tiny village is made from objects and plants found from the Gardens’ 210-acre peninsula including tree stumps and lichen. There are many fairy structures that are part of the village like a mini lighthouse and even a tiny version of Bathhouse Row. A light display with mushrooms and a flying fairy currently can be found there as part of the Winter Garden Festival. James the Train is also on site for the festival and the Garden Pavillion is also lit up to enjoy as well as other spots throughout Garvan. 

The Winter Garden Festival runs through Thursday, December 31 (closed Christmas day) and opens daily at 10 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. each evening.

Downtown Hot Springs is also decorated with holiday lights so a venture to stroll or drive down historic Bathhouse Row is a neat tie in to the event.