Listed as one of the top 100 events in North America and as one of the 1,000 places to see before you die, the annual Philadelphia Flower Show lives up to the expectations and more. It should considering it has over 175 years of experience.
Held for 9 days in early March each year, it draws an estimated 275,000 people. It is the largest indoor flower show in the world and is held at the Philadelphia Convention Center in downtown Philadelphia. The area is centrally located (a block from City Hall and the city center), and serviced by public transport and has parking garages across the street.
Of the 33 acres, about 10 acres are for exhibits. These exhibits range from wildflower meadows to urban parks and country cottages to rooftop gardens. Each year the show has a theme – for 2005, it’s America the Beautiful; 2004 was Destination Paradise; in 2003 it was Festival de las Flores; etc. At every individual exhibit there are experts to answer all your questions.
The remaining space is used to showcase award-winning species and hundreds of orchids, cacti, miniatures, bonsai, and elaborate and original flower bouquets. There are lectures, demonstrations, and culinary presentations held throughout the day daily. Also, there are about 125 vendors from across the US and world selling everything related to gardening, from seeds and plants to tools and furniture. Some of the vendors contribute to the exhibits, and if you see a particular plant you like, you can walk across to the vendor and buy it right there.
Along the outer fringe of the exhibit lining the walls are restrooms, lots of chairs to sit down on, and food vendors selling the famed Philly cheesesteaks and hoagies alongside pretzels, popcorn, and ice cream. Even with so many vendors, this is very definitely a flower show and not some glorified carnival. Initially I didn’t realize the scope and magnitude of this show or the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society – it brings together 200 judges from across the nation to judge over 3,000 entries (all on display at the show) in hundreds of competitions.