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Festival of Trees returns for holidays

By Lauren Schiavone
Hometown Weekly Staff

Just on the Dover border, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s (MassHort’s) Garden at Elm Bank is presenting a prime spot for those seeking local holiday fun or starting a new tradition. The 14th annual Festival of Trees features numerous decorated holiday trees, some conventional and others creative, all available for raffle. An extensive model railroad display and outdoor lights in the garden make the event a must-visit for individuals of all ages.

Over twelve acres of cultivated land make up the Elm Bank Reservation. The Hunnewell Building, the estate’s former carriage house, is used to display the decked out trees. The Manor House and Olmsted Italianate Garden are also lit up for the holidays, and present great venues to enjoy some fresh air — and the view. Beginning at admission with a cup of hot cocoa, attendees can explore the scenic property with a warm beverage in their hands.

“I would say this is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” explained Director of Education and Guest Experience Allison Dush. “With staff time and volunteer time, it is an all-hands on deck event leading up to it. When it’s over, we talk about how we’re changing for next year.“ This year, colored lights, crafted as tulips, line the walkway leading up to the Hartley Botanic Greenhouse; it’s a great photo spot. The greenhouse on its own is beautiful, but it is dressed up for the season in pine accents, trees, lights, wreaths, bows and more. Next to the lit-up tulips, actual, fresh tulip bulbs are sleeping in their beds until springtime — Dush has divulged that a 51,300 of the flowers will be ready by springtime for MassHort’s first-ever Tulip Festival.

The Massachusetts Horticultural Society train display, meanwhile, always draws a crowd. “People come in through the gate and veer straight to it,” Dush explains. “We have Christmas in July just because the trains are so popular. It’s such a favorite and we open them up those two times a year.” Models include minute details, turning the entire room a holiday village; rocks are dusted with snow, lampposts are adorned with hardware, buildings and shops have working lights, model villagers, and plenty of magic. Interactive elements include moving pieces, such as ice skaters circling, and Santa climbing up a ladder. A local accent makes the display extra notable — Fenway Park is rendered in the style, complete with a Citgo sign; to say the least, we New Englanders will feel quite at home for the holidays at the Festival of Trees.

Trees of all different shapes, sizes, and colors find harmony in the Hunnewell Building. “These are all artificial trees and are donated,” Dush explained. “Everything is raffled off and is all part of the fundraiser. You get the tree, items on the tree, and under the tree… It’s 26 tickets for ten dollars; we draw at the very end of the festival. We also have online raffle tickets available.” Themed trees, such as baking or crochet, have ornaments all in similar style. A telescope was generously donated and displayed with lights on the tripod to match a tree shape. Tiny succulent trees, massive traditional trees, book trees, and even cat trees are available. The whimsical walk-through is worth it just to see the craftiness in the area alone, but who can resist buying raffle tickets for a chance to take the tree home and be the talk of the holiday?

The Massachusetts Horticultural Society Festival of Trees will ensure you leave with a smile on your face and holiday cheer in your heart. It’s currently open and running through the end of the month. For tickets and more event information, visit

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