Enter a Modern World of Living Color at Brilliance: The Orchid Show

Opening at the Chicago Botanic Garden February 8 through March 22

Julie McCaffrey
(847) 835-8213, direct
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Opening at the Chicago Botanic Garden February 8 through March 22
Event Date: to
Release Date: Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Chicago Botanic Garden radiates with bold and brilliant color this winter during Brilliance: The Orchid Show. Starting February 8 and running through March 22, the Garden’s indoor galleries will be saturated with color using light, reflection and translucent panels, changing as the sun moves throughout the day. 

“We are excited to capture the brilliance of orchids in a whole new way this year,” said Jodi Zombolo, associate vice president, Visitor Events and Programs. “Outside may be monochromatic and dull, but inside our galleries and greenhouses will feature blooms in unexpected ways as we play with color and light.”

Brilliance: The Orchid Show will highlight and enhance the hues of 10,000 brilliant blooms in engaging and energizing ways that incorporate new materials such as chrome spheres and black bamboo. Attendees will experience bright shades of orchids, through floor-to-ceiling artistic installations including a towering canopy of color, a floating orchid carpet, and a dramatic chandelier filled with glistening blooms. The focus on color illuminates the brilliant survival strategies of wild orchids, which use color to attract their pollinators in order to reproduce.

On Thursday evenings, Orchids After Hours is a luminous way to experience a nighttime viewing of the Show. Cocktails and street food-inspired fare such as pork skewers with coconut rice, Korean barbeque on a steamed bun, and tuna poke bowls will be available for purchase. A special Orchids After Hours will be held on Friday, February 14 (Valentine’s Day) and will feature special desserts, prosecco and champagne splits and a photo booth.

Regular 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. Tickets are on sale now. Visit https://www.chicagobotanic.org/orchid for more information, early close dates, and to purchase tickets. 

The following events will take place throughout the Show:

  • Library Exhibition – Illustrated Orchids in Radiant Color – Friday, January 17, through Sunday, April 12 (Wednesday – Sunday from noon – 4 p.m.)
    This rare book exhibition in the Lenhardt Library features a rare portfolio of art-nouveau-inspired orchid plates executed with botanical accuracy and beauty by French painter and watercolorist, Henry (Henri-Lucien) Lambert (1831-1909). Free library talks will be held on Sunday, February 9, and Thursday, March 5, at 2 p.m.
  • Members-only Preview Evening – Friday, February 7 (5 p.m. to 8 p.m.)
    Members gain early access to the Show plus music, light refreshments, and a cash bar.
  • Orchid Marketplace – Saturdays & Sundays, February 8 – March 22
    Every weekend, orchids and orchid-inspired items are for sale. Experts from the Illinois Orchid Society also offer repotting services on select weekends.
  • Photographers’ Hour – Tuesdays, February 11 through March 17 (8:15 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.)
    Offered for photographers who would like to capture orchids using tripods and monopods before the Show opens on Tuesday mornings. Regular ticket fees apply, but only a limited number of tickets will be available each day.
  • Morning Music with Orchids – Tuesdays and Thursdays, February 13 through March 19 (10 a.m. to 11 a.m.)
    Visitors enjoy free instrumental music by local musicians in Nichols Hall.
  • Illinois Orchid Society Spring Show & Sale – Saturday, March 14 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and Sunday, March 15 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
    Displays of orchids from the rarest of species to cultivated hybrids will be artistically arranged. Families can take part in orchid-based activities for children. Vendors will also be on-site to sell orchid plants and related products and Illinois Orchid Society members will offer repotting services. 
  • Evening with Orchids: Cocktail Tasting – Wednesday, March 11 (6 p.m. to 8 p.m.)
    Attendees can unwind with an evening viewing of the Show and enjoy tastings of local spirits and specialty cocktails. Light fare is available for purchase.
  • Post-Orchid Show Sale – Thursday, March 26
    This sale is an opportunity to take home favorite orchids from the Show. 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 p.m. to 4 p.m., while supplies last. The Garden’s website and social media will provide updates; this event sells out quickly.

An image gallery is available for media download here.


Editors, please note: For digital images, contact Julie McCaffrey at (847) 835-8213 or at @email.

Interact with the Garden for this and other Garden events and programs: