As a rookie to the Chicago Flower & Garden Show, I’ll admit that I had no clue what to expect once I got there. Although I have been reading, writing and learning the ins and outs of what goes into the show for months from the people of Flower Show Productions—I still didn’t get the big picture of how impressive this event is.
Lucky for me I got two opportunities to enjoy the show, first with the BatesMeron crew at the premiere event, Evening in Bloom, and then again for myself over the weekend. So, to help any newcomers thinking about going to the show, or just to give any flower fans an inside scoop—here is my official rundown of the show and what you should do once you’re there.
Note: I will prep you with the fact that I’m not the gardening, landscaping type—it’s just not my thing. However, this means that even if you lack a green thumb, you’ll still find something to love at this show. (Think shopping, food, fire pits, wine tasting and lots of picture ops.)
First, once you’ve journeyed to the end of Navy Pier and made your way into the intimidatingly humongous festival hall…grab a program. I’m not just saying this because I’m part of the team that made it, but because it has very valuable information in it. It holds a floor map, garden facts, vendor names and so much more. (Believe me, it can be very overwhelming to wander around without the help of the official show guide.)
Second, give yourself time. There is a lot of space to cover and you don’t want to be rushed. (The show closes at 6pm, rather than 8pm on Sundays—don’t be like me and miss out on all the fun of the marketplace because of poor timing.)
Third, wear comfy shoes. Like I said, the festival hall is huge and if you plan on seeing the entire show, you’ll basically be walking a full circle. The floor is also solid concrete, so take that into consideration.
So you’ve got your lovely guide and you’re making your way through a forest of blooming gardens—what are the must-sees? Here are a few favorites that I recommend:
1. Check out the photo competition gallery. The photos are gorgeous and the gallery walls are infused with brightly colored graffiti—which just so happens to make an amazing photo background.
2. Take a seat and feed the fish. There are multiple life-size ponds with living fish (and even a turtle) spread throughout the show. Most of these ponds have bridges and fountain features—so you can’t help but feel relaxed in such a serene setting.
3. See the craziest, most colorful and impossible-to-wear shoes ever. Yes, I’ll admit I’m a shoe addict, so this might be why I loved Garden 8 as much as I did, but if you’re into art, design or storytelling, you must visit this garden. (Each pair of shoes tells a story about its creator.)
4. Get inspired to throw an amazing dinner party. Head over to the tablescape garden (Garden 12) to be wowed with color, crazy props, intricate themes and over-the-top centerpieces.
Garden Master or not, the Chicago Flower & Garden Show is a fun-filled event that anyone can enjoy. From gourmet seminars to potting parties to lounging under a summer-themed pergola—the Chicago Flower & Garden Show is a great way to welcome spring…and spend a rainy Sunday.
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