The Rapidian

22nd annual Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World highlights some of the world's most cherished folklore

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Meijer Gardens celebrates the holidays with over 40 international traditions
Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World at Meijer Gardens

Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World at Meijer Gardens /Photo courtesy of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

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Exhibition Activities

Extended Holiday Hours: Open until 9 pm on December 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30 (Please note: Meijer Gardens is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day).


  • The Original Dickens Carolers: Tuesdays: November 22 and 29, December 6, 13, 20, 6-8 pm
  • Santa Visits: Tuesdays: November 22 and 29, December 6, 13, 20, 5-8 pm
  • Rooftop Reindeer: Saturdays: November 26, December 3, 10, 17, 1-4 pm
  • Christmas Cabaret Gala: Thursday, December 1, 6 pm (RSVP required)
  • Winter-Time Walks: Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:15 am and 11:15 am, Saturdays (Nov. 22-Jan. 7) 11:15  am
    Fee: Included with admission. Winter in the Children’s Garden can be chilly, but fun! Bundle up and join us on an outdoor interactive discovery walk to investigate the Children’s Garden in new ways. We’ll explore different winter themes, each with kid-friendly conversation, stories and finger plays.
  • Christmas and Holiday Themed Classes: Enjoy festive learning opportunities for adults and families. Fees apply. Visit for more information.

Experience the magic of the holidays at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park with the annual Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World exhibition on display from November 22 through January 8, 2017. Visitors from all over the world visit Meijer Gardens to experience over 40 international trees and displays, the enchanting Railway Garden and the holiday wonderland that encompasses it.

This year’s exhibition will highlight some of the holiday folklore that is celebrated around the world. Enjoy engaging narratives and special displays from Iceland, Ghana, Germany and more. Horticultural elements will also further explore folkloric legend, from mystical mistletoe and poinsettia to the peace-bearing olive tree.

The beloved Railway Garden meanders through four lush indoor garden spaces, including the newly renovated Grace Jarecki Seasonal Display Greenhouse, bringing together colorful plantings with storybook scenes. The unique horticultural artistry complements the model trolleys, trains and handcrafted buildings replicating 30 Grand Rapids landmarks, designed by Paul Busse of Applied Imagination. Visitors will find familiarity in the Fifth Third Ballpark with its light posts made of willow, the Ada Covered Bridge with a cedar roof, and the Meyer May House with oak bark siding and red ruscus leaves. Five landmarks from Grand Rapids sister cities around the world are also represented in the Railway Garden after being added in 2015.

“This year we’re celebrating not only the various holiday traditions observed around the world, but also the folklore that makes these celebrations so unique,” said Steve LaWarre, Director of Horticulture. “Many of these traditions are rooted in horticulture and natural elements. We’re excited to share how legendary folklore such as mistletoe, spider webs, olive trees and rosemary are important parts of holiday customs around the world.”

Mainstays of the exhibition include the Germany tree, adorned with handmade glass ornaments and homemade springerle cookies, the England tree—with antique Christmas cards and mistletoe—and the beautiful Eid ul-Fitr display, which celebrates the end of Ramadan.

Meijer Gardens transforms into a botanic wonderland with poinsettias, orchids and amaryllis. The smell of evergreens as visitors enter the building and the sounds of carolers make it a festive place to enjoy the holiday season.

A variety of family-friendly activities are offered throughout the exhibition.  

Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World is made possible by the Holland Home, The Meijer Foundation, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Foundation and the Botanic and Sculpture Societies of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. The Railway Garden is made possible by Warner Norcross & Judd, LLP. 

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