We always make a point of visiting a light display (or two or three) during the holiday season. One of our family’s area favorites is the Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, and we just visited over Thanksgiving weekend.
The locale that boasts beautiful plant and flower collections in the warmer seasons, the fantastic Wings of Fancy exhibit every summer, and an adorable Children’s Garden all year round, transforms into a twinkling wonderland come late fall and winter. Pathways are lined with colorful lights in forms of flowers, insects, animals, and more beautiful and whimsical glowing designs. There are sparkling tunnels, real trees illuminated with lights, and fountains full of shimmering scenes.
It’s so nice to stroll through leisurely (or run excitedly like the kids) and take it in at our own pace. Every corner we turned brought new delight — it’s fun, relaxing, and breathtaking all at once. And along with lights, there is a model train display in the Conservatory, plus live music, hot chocolate, and snacks for sale in the Visitor Center, perfect for warming up after wandering among the brilliant grounds outside.
Garden of Lights will be on display at Brookside Gardens through January 1, 2018. Hours are 5:30-9pm Sunday – Thursday, 5:30-10pm Friday – Saturday. Admission per car is $25 Sunday – Thursday, $30 Friday – Saturday. It’s open every night except for December 24-25. Get a glimpse of it all below before you go!
(Click to view larger images)
See the raccoon?
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Montgomery Parks, however, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will be of interest to KFDC readers.
Dazzling light shows are a staple of the holiday season, and one of my very favorites in the area is Brookside Gardens’ walk-through exhibit, Garden of Lights. The gardens are transformed into a magical winter wonderland illuminated by more than one million twinkling colorful lights handwoven into original works depicting animals, flowers, and other natural elements. It will all be on view for visitors every night from November 25 through January 1 (with the exceptions of December 24 and 25). And I have two admission passes (admission is per car/van) to give away to a couple of lucky KFDC readers.
Stroll from garden to garden to enjoy long-time favorite displays, including Nessie the Serpent, flying geese, and butterflies. The gardens’ trees and hardscapes such as the Children’s Garden Treehouse and Wedding Gazebo are bedecked in a rainbow of colorful glimmering lights. It is a light display unlike any other. (Get a glimpse of it all in this post about one of our visits there.)
Inside the Conservatory, enjoy the sights and sounds of model trains as they wind their way through seasonal greenery and miniature reproductions of local landmarks such as the RedDoor Store in Sandy Spring, the Kensington MARC railway station, Glen Echo Park complete with Bumper Car Pavilion and 1921 Dentzel Carousel, and even Brookside Gardens’ Conservatories.
A new fire pit on the South Terrace is the latest addition to Garden of Lights, where refreshments — think S’mores kits and hot cocoa — will be available for purchase. And nightly musical performances take place inside the Visitors Center.
Garden of Lights is located in Brookside Gardens at 1800 Glenallan Avenue in Wheaton, MD. It runs November 25, 2016 – January 1, 2017 (closed December 24 & 25). Hours are 5:30-9:30pm Sunday – Thursday, and 5:30-10:30pm Friday & Saturday. Admission is $25 per car/van Sunday – Thursday, and $30 per car/van Friday & Saturday.
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Giveaway: For a chance to win one of the two admission passes to Brookside’s Garden of Lights, simply leave a comment below or enter through the KFDC Facebook page or on Instagram. The passes can be used on any date the exhibit is open. This giveaway will run through November 23, 2016, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!
This post is sponsored by Montgomery Parks, however, I only promote events, places, and programs that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.
DC Diaper Bank Founder and Executive Director Corinne Cannon
“We want to give babies what they need to thrive.”
On a recent visit to DC Diaper Bank in Silver Spring, this is how Executive Director Corinne Cannon began explaining the mission of her amazing organization that provides diapers to families in need.
A small sample of the many Size 1 diapers ready for distribution
The non-profit was born in 2010 from Corinne’s own experience as a new mother with a challenging baby. Realizing how hard parenting was even with a lot of support, she thought about those who weren’t as fortunate and began to research ways to help make caring for an infant easier. It was then she learned that diapers, a basic necessity for babies, are not covered by WIC, food stamps, or other social welfare systems, and she set out to help make them available. Six years later, DC Diaper Bank provides over 100,000 diapers a month to families in need and has donated over 3,000,000 diapers since launching. (Wow!)
Keeping track of DC Diaper Bank’s amazing work
It truly takes a village to make it all happen. Donations, both diapers and monetary, are contributed by everyone from huge multinational companies to individuals in the community. Diaper drives are held by businesses, schools, and other area organizations. Local ambassadors help spread the word about DC Diaper Bank and offer drop-off locations around the region. And members of the community — kids included! — are welcome and encouraged to volunteer at the warehouse to help bundle diapers and prepare them for distribution to partners.
Volunteers tables where diapers are bundled to prep for distribution
So, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I had never been to the DC Diaper Bank warehouse until that visit a few weeks ago. I have been very aware of it for years and even know Corinne — our kids attend the same school, and we served on the fundraising committee together a few years ago. I am seriously in awe of what she has created and achieved, what she has given to those in need, how it all brings the community together. While I have helped promote their diaper drives and Boogie Babes — the music show is now run by DC Diaper Bank, and all proceeds support the organization (Note: Boogie Babes is no longer running.) — I have yet to volunteer there. But that’s about to change, as the kids and I are signed up to go next month. 🙂
Diapers are often donated in original boxes then repackaged to fit more in each bundle
You can help out, too! Interested in volunteering at DC Diaper Bank? Check out their family-friendly warehouse volunteer hours for a day and time to sign up. And don’t worry if your kiddos are too little to help package diapers — they are still welcome to join, and there’s even a small play area where they can stay busy while you help.
A sweet area for little kiddos to play while you volunteer
And if you want to donate to DC Diaper Bank, there are several ways to give, all listed on the website here. And I should mention that they take more than just diapers, there are many other essential items, like formula and breast feeding supplies, that they also accept — see a complete list here.
British Soccer Camps is the most popular camp in North America hosting 150,000 campers! With an innovative curriculum that develops skills, speed and confidence in players ages 3-18, British Soccer Camps provide girls and boys with the rare opportunity to receive high-level soccer coaching from a team of international experts right in the heart of their own communities. In addition to teaching new skills and improving game performance, each British Soccer Camp provides lessons in character development and cultural education, and is the most fun your child can have learning the sport they love!
There are some bonuses to signing up for the camp now: Enroll your child in a British Soccer Camp during Early Registration and receive a Free British Soccer Jersey. And enter code FMG15 and they’ll include a bonus Challenger water bottle.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Challenger Sports, however, I only promote services, events, and programs that I truly believe in and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.
An outing to the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring to end the summer break is becoming somewhat of a tradition for us. Owen and I first went last summer as a last hurrah before going back to school, and we returned for the same occasion a few weeks ago. This time, though, we went with friends. And this time, the experience was elevated, both literally and figuratively, as Owen’s extra year — he’s now 7 — gained him access to more courses, many of them more challenging and at higher heights than the routes he was previously allowed to traverse.
All geared up and ready to go!
So, in case you missed last year’s post about our excursion there, and the photos don’t make it evident, the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring offers a thrilling aerial forest experience. Adventure-goers navigate ropes courses in the trees, crossing over bridges, whizzing down ziplines, and scaling ladders to get from platform to platform, all many (in some cases, many, many) feet above the ground.
The pricing has changed since our first venture there, when there was a special rate for 5-6-year-olds and an adult for a 90-minute session. Now, admission is free for that age with the purchase of an adult pass ($49). For ages 7-9, it’s $39, and for ages 10-11 it’s $44. Admission is for three hours, and you have access to varying courses depending on age. (UPDATE: $56/ages 12+, $47/ages 7-11, $12/ages 5-6.)
Last year, we could only do the easiest purple courses, but this time ’round, we got to do the yellow and green, too. Many proved to be more challenging (and occasionally a little bit scary), but also a lot more fun.