Festival of Trees

I had the opportunity to visit Kennedy Krieger Institute’s “Festival of Trees” at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium the other day. Wow, what an experience it was!

Kennedy Krieger describes it on their website as “a three-day extravaganza of fairyland forests, gingerbread towns and toy train gardens, complemented by over 100 craft boutiques, holiday goodies and activities for kids of all ages.”

My two favorite teachers, Mrs. Natalie Rebetsky and Mr. Jeremy Brown, are so into Christmas (read their blog and listen to their podcast, The Yule Log 365) that they designed trees, wreaths, and gingerbread houses for the event. They gave me a couple tickets to the Festival of Trees preview Friday so my family and I could visit and see what it’s about.

The place really impressed me. The festival was held in the Cow Palace, but the organizers completely transformed the building into a Winter wonderland. I found this time-lapse video from 2012 that shows the 8-day setup:

They had every detail covered, and even had decorations hanging from the ceiling:

Decorations hanging from the ceiling at the Festival of Trees

The festival was divided into three major areas.

The front of the complex was where the real “Festival of Trees” was. There were so many Christmas trees, decorated in different themes! I think my favorite was made by Jeremy and Natalie. It was decorated using recycled materials like soda cans, K-cups, and lightbulbs, and it won first place!

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How they made the tree. P1050259 Photo of the tree

There were other interesting trees, too:

tree

A Wizard of Oz themed tree by a girl scout troopP1050264I’m not sure if this really counts as a “tree”, but I still like it…P1050272This tree was designed by Johns Hopkins University. It is made from wine bottles, and I even saw a couple bottles from Linganore Winecellars!P1050265This was an interesting Sherwin-Williams themed tree.P1050278Very interesting!

There were also ginger bread houses and wreaths. The trees, houses, and wreaths were being sold and all proceeds went to the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

In the middle of the complex, there was food and a performance area. Throughout the three days, about 15 different groups were scheduled to perform. While we were there Friday, we were able to listen to pianist Jeremy Harvey and the kids’ band Milkshake.

At the back of the complex there was a “Santaland”. This included holiday- themed crafts, rides, visits with Santa, and games. I was impressed with the number of things that were packed into the event. My grandpa and brother especially enjoyed watching the electric train set by The Train Guys.

Train

A small part of the massive train set

Now, I know the real question: What about Santa Claus?

The answer is, Santa arrived just as regular guests were entering the festival (because we had preview tickets, we were there long before the general public arrived.) By the time I made my way over to his chair, there was a huge line to see him! I really wanted to talk to him, but there were little kids waiting to see him, too. I asked a worker when his break was and I was told that it was going to be a while before Santa went on break. It was about time for us to leave, so in the interest of time we decided to skip the visit with Santa.

Other than that unfortunate event, I had a lot of fun and I enjoyed seeing the various trees, wreaths, gingerbread houses, and rides and crafts. Perhaps next year I will have to design a small tree with my family!

Here is a complete gallery of photos from the festival:

TrainTrain guys- like on Facebook infomerry-go-roundbig trainkids on big traintree
treetreetreetreetreeP1050241
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Festival of Trees, a set on Flickr.

Photos from the Festival of Trees