30th annual holiday train show returns to NYBG with more than 190 replicas of NYC landmarks

Posted On Thu, November 18, 2021 By

Posted On Thu, November 18, 2021 By In Events, holidays

The Holiday Train Show® display in the reflecting pool of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory’s Palms of the World Gallery; Courtesy of the New York Botanical Garden

One of New York City’s most popular holiday events will open fully this season after an abbreviated event last year. The New York Botanical Garden’s 30th annual Holiday Train Show returns on Saturday, November 20 with 25 G-scale model trains and trolleys riding around more than 190 replicas of iconic city landmarks. Celebrating its 30th year, the train show features a showcase of the garden’s LuEsther T. Mertz Library Building and the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.


Replica of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Building from the Holiday Train Show®; Courtesy of the New York Botanical Garden


A model train in front of the replica of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Building in the Holiday Train Show®; Courtesy of the New York Botanical Garden

As 6sqft previously learned, the first Holiday Train Show took place in 1992. Since then, the exhibit has been crafted by Kentucky-based Applied Imagination, known for its award-winning garden railway displays across the United States. The designers use natural materials like leaves, seeds, acorns, bark, and pine cones to create the building replicas.

This year’s show includes over 25 G-scale model trains and trolleys, including American steam engines, modern freight trains, and 1800s streetcars, zipping along nearly a half-mile of track. At the center of the show are recreations of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library, the Lillian Goldman Fountain of Life, and the John J. Hoffee Tulip Tree Alllée, collectively designated city landmarks in 2009.

The garden’s library building, which was designed in 1901 by architect Robert Gibson, was created using horse chestnut bark to represent stone blocks, with mahogany pods, cinnamon pods, and black walnuts. According to the garden, it took between 900 and 1,000 hours to create.


Replica of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory from the Holiday Train Show®; Courtesy of the New York Botanical Garden

Located in the front of the library is the Goldman Fountain of Life, which boasts Beaux-Arts sculptures and mythical figures. The seahorse, nymph, and mermaid figures were recreated using tobacco leaves and grapevine tendril, with the basin of the fountain made from large shelf fungus.

Other NYBG structures in the show include the Great Garden Clock, the Lillian and Amy Goldman Stone Mill, and the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, a stunning glass greenhouse that first opened in 1902 and, following an $18 million restoration, reopened to the public last September. The replica of the conservatory, which debuted in 2014, includes birch bark, cinnamon bark curls, wheat husks, and acorn caps.


The New York City skyline from the Holiday Train Show®; Courtesy of the New York Botanical Garden


At the Holiday Train Show®, G-scale trains and trolleys hum along nearly a half-mile of track. © Robert Benson Photography

The trains travel through tunnels and across iconic bridges, including the Brooklyn Bridge and the George Washington Bridge. See whimsical replicas of famous landmarks like the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Statue of Liberty, One World Trade Center, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, Yankee Stadium, and more.

In 2019, the garden debuted a totally new Central Park section, with iconic spots like the Bow Bridge, Bethesda Terrace, and Belevedere Castle masterfully recreated.

The Holiday Train Show is on view in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory from Saturday, November 20, 2021, through Sunday, January 23, 2022. Tickets to the show, which include an all-garden pass, start at $32 for adults and $18 for children ages two to 12.

On select dates in November and December, the New York Botanical Garden is also hosting an outdoor color and light experience called GLOW that illuminates its iconic buildings with thousands of LED lights and installations. Tickets to GLOW cost $35 for adults and $20 for children.

The garden is offering special evening dual access to the Holiday Train Show and GLOW for $49 for adults and $34 for children. Learn more and buy tickets here.

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