The Journal Gazette
Friday, November 19, 2021 1:00 am

Botanical Conservatory opens 'Alpine Holiday' exhibit

European Alpine village takes spotin Conservatory

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory is bringing an “Alpine Holiday” downtown as it opens its annual holiday exhibit this weekend.

The exhibit, which begins in the lobby and extends through the Showcase Garden and out to the exterior spaces, includes lots of snow drifts and a chalet, says Amanda Amstutz, supervisor of programs and volunteers. There is even a ski shop being created on the conservatory's terrace.

There will be lots of evergreens and flowers representing Europe's Alpine region, and Amstutz says the goal is to make visitors feel as if they are visiting a village as well as the rocky terrain of nearby mountains.

It all makes for lots of holiday photo opportunities, such as the annual poinsettia Christmas tree or a bench in a ski lift scene.

“Part of our design process is actually including photo ops,” Amstutz says.

The conservatory team and Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation work on the showcase exhibits about two years ahead, and each holiday show is different.

Creating unique themes can be a challenge, but that's also part of the fun, Amstutz says. After all the work, it's satisfying seeing the exhibits come together, she adds.

Last year's theme was “Oh? Christmas Tree!” featuring traditions from around the world. In 2019, it was “Christmas Connections,” and in 2018, the conservatory offered a “Victorian Holiday.”

This year's “Alpine Holiday” exhibit is a change from the more nostalgic feel of recent holiday exhibits. There are more natural elements such as pine cones and icicles.

“This time we want to make you feel like you're actually outside – without making it cold,” Amstutz says with a laugh.

There might be a little cold depending on when you want to take in the conservatory's outdoor displays.

The Late-Night Light Display is open during extended holiday hours from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays running Nov. 26 to Dec. 17.

Among other activities, Santa will be at the conservatory with reindeer from noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 4, 11 and 18, and there is a holiday concert from Those Two Guys in Suits and Ties (Tom Didier and Todd Frymier) at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 2 for $1 night.

For more events including Breakfast with Santa, go to

If you go

What: “Alpine Holiday”

When: Saturday through Jan 2; closed Mondays and Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day; for varying hours, go to

Where: Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, 1100 S. Calhoun St.

Admission: $5 adults, $3 children, free ages 2 and younger

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