Mass Hort’s Festival of Trees and Trains: Worth a Trip

Yesterday the Owl took a little flyer down to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s Festival of Trees at Elm Bank. After a year off (pandemic) the trees were back on the agenda along with a visit with a friend–who sadly had to cancel at the last minute. The Owl, undeterred when anything has to do with trees, went anyway–and yeah, it’s also because timed, advance-sale-only tickets mean suck it up or say bye-bye to $18.*

Upon checking in, you follow a nice path of lighted (even in the day time) fences and “Event” signs around the outdoor decorated trees. They have some really nice natural trees at Elm Bank, and a huge Adirondack chair for taking zillions of photos in (the group ahead of me had 5 kids all of whom had to take photos on the chair, alone, then together, then two together then four, well, you get the picture–I skipped the selfie on the chair). Take as long as you want–if the weather is nice, this is a highlight.

Then it’s time for choo-choos. I loved trains as a kid, and I had always hoped the Owlets would be fans–we got more than one train set, big ones, small ones, but nope. Superheroes and dinosaurs. When you see these trains, however, you realize that your home set-up could never come close to this fun. I spent close to 20 minutes watching the trains go in and out of mountains and tunnels, tiny mechanized skiers and skaters up and down, tiny Fenway park…the nighttime lighting makes you lose all track (no pun intended) of time. Do note that if you have small littles, you will have to pick them up for them to get a great view of all that is going on. They might consider step stools for the littles one day.

Then it’s time for the trees. Except some of them are not trees. Some of them are boxes of wine, a ferris wheel (huh?), a dress, and a wall hanging. I’ll be honest here: I think things have gone off the rails a bit at Mass Hort. Pun intended. While it’s nice that some folks have donated wine to a family-friendly event, I would say hey! let’s decorate a tree with tiny wine bottles and aspirin and also give away wine. Even the lottery folks, who always put up a tree with scratch-offs, have a tree with the cards hanging off of it. My favorite wackiness this year: the pasta decorations. My favorite overall tree: reindeer. I won’t ruin all the surprises. Definitely you have to see it to believe it.

Also a Dale Earnhardt car tree? Hmmm. If you have race car fans, head on over. By the way, looking at Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s biography on wikipedia came up with this favorite bio moment: “When he became a delinquent at the age of 12, he was sent to Oak Ridge Military Academy;[7] ” Wow, just wow, wikipedia. Apparently he is a big supportter of Make-a-Wish foundation in addition to tree decorating so I like him.

You can buy raffle tickets to have a chance at winning your favorite tree (drawing on December 19) and you can also participate in the raffle on-line. But why would you? You have to see these trees live to get the full glory. No holiday season is complete without the Festival of Trees.

At the end of your tour, pick up a little baggie of s’mores makings and head outside to one of the two firepits. Have a seat on the benches and ruminate (adults) or hyper-out (kids) with a little extra sugar in your system.

Fica a dica--or “there’s my advice” in Portuguese.

*Ticket prices:

Saturdays & Sundays: $23 Nonmember, $18 Member
Wednesday – Fridays in December: $18 Nonmember, $13 Member

Kids (age 3-17):
$5 for both Member & Nonmember children – everyday
Kids 2 and under are free. (S’mores and Hot Chocolate not included for those 2 and under)

Massachusetts Horticultural Society is dedicated to encouraging the science and practice of horticulture and to developing the public’s enjoyment, appreciation, and understanding of plants and the environment. Mass Hort is located at The Gardens at Elm Bank, 900 Washington Street, Wellesley.


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