Escape to the tropics at the Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show

Escape to the tropics at the Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show

The  “In the Tropics Orchid Show”--now in its 5th year--opened Saturday at the Chicago Botanic Garden (through March 24).

Perfect timing, again.

Just about the time, Chicagoans have had it with the ice, the snow, the polar vortex, along comes the perfect escape. Step inside the Chicago Botanic Garden's  Regenstein Center and you will find yourself immersed in a lush oasis, with the luminous feel of an endless summer.

Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Picture more than 10,000 orchids in bloom, paired with sweeps of bromeliads and birds of paradise—lush, vibrant, and intoxicating.

Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

The Orchid Show captures the spirit of islands, beaches, and rainforests in places like the South Pacific and the Amazon. You’ll find yourself awash in the radiance of blooms under sunlit palm trees and in forest canopies teeming with color and life. 

The transformation from the frozen tundra outside at the garden to the endless summer inside happens quickly.

Chicago Botanic Garden's winter wonderland. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Chicago Botanic Garden's winter wonderland. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

One minute the wind is blowing as you pull your coat a little tighter.

In the Tropics. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

In the Tropics. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

The next minute you're "In the Tropics."

The tone is set as visitors enter Nicholas Hall and Krehbiel Gallery where they'll discover an allée of orchids and  displays along with art and tropical plants for sale (weekends).

Photo:: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Photo:: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

To continue from there, visitors must purchase a ticket (information at bottom of post).

The Orchid Show features a “curtain” of falling water. The theme of water is implicit throughout, with a “waterfall” of Vanda orchids, a banca canoe, and small islands blooming with tall palm trees and orchids.

Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Guests proceed through thousands of orchids and displays in a world infused with the warmth and light of turquoise seas. In the Gallery and the Greenhouses guests will walk through floor to ceiling displays featuring orchids growing in the ground and on trees and hanging structures.

Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

In addition, to the warmth and beauty of the displays, visitors will learn a about the the tropics and rainforests through signage, games and videos.

Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

What:  "In the Tropics Orchid Show."
When: Now through March 24. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, except for Thursdays, when the Show stays open until 8 p.m. for Orchids After Hours. The Show closes early at 3 p.m. on March 20.
Where: Chicago Botanic Garden. 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe. DirectionsGarden Map.
TicketsAdults, $12 nonmember/$10 member; children (3–12 years) and seniors (62 years and up), $10 nonmember/$8 member; children under 3 are free.
Parking: $25 car. Members free.
Visit https://www.chicagobotanic.org/orchid for more information.

Related events:

Orchids After Hours. Enjoy tiki cocktails, tropical-inspired bites and a nighttime viewing of the show. The first Orchids After Hours is on Valentine’s Day and will feature special desserts and prosecco and champagne splits. Each Thursday night, the menu includes sesame-ginger chicken pot stickers, coconut shrimp and honey-balsamic pulled pork sliders. A favorite menu item from last year returns with fresh tuna or salmon poke bowls served over rice, mixed greens, seaweed salad and other delicious toppings. Dessert consists of a petite key lime pie. The tiki cocktails are served in a take-home glass with a choice of rum cocktails, Hurricane Helcia or Orchids of Paradise. Non-alcoholic versions of the cocktails are also available, as well as soda, iced tea, water and bottled beer and wine by the glass.orchids_with_thatch

Orchid Marketplace. Saturdays & Sundays, February 9 – March 24. Every weekend, orchids and orchid-inspired items are for sale. Experts from the Illinois Orchid Society also offer repotting services on select weekends. Illinois Orchid Society Spring Show & Sale – Saturday, March 9 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and Sunday, March 10 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

Morning Music with Orchids. Tuesdays and Thursdays, February 12 through March 21 (10 to 11 a.m.)
Enjoy free instrumental music by local musicians in Nichols Hall. 

Evening with Orchids: Cocktail Tasting. Wednesday, March 13 (6 to 8 p.m.)
Unwind with an evening viewing of the Orchid Show and enjoy tastings of local spirits and specialty cocktails. Light fare is available for purchase. Fees apply. 

Post-Orchid Show Sale. Thursday, March 28. Garden Plus members get early access, from 10 a.m. to noon. All members are welcome from noon to 2 p.m., and the general public is invited from 2 to 4 p.m., while supplies last. 

Photographers’ Hour – Tuesdays, February 12 through March 19 (8:15 to 9:45 a.m.) Photographers who would like to capture the Show using tripods and monopods will be invited in before the Show opens on Tuesday mornings. Regular ticket fees apply, but only a limited number of tickets will be available each day. 

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