Winter in Chicago is about to get a bit more tropical. The Orchid Show returns to the Chicago Botanic Garden starting on Saturday, February 11, and running until Sunday, March 26. Due to the show’s popularity, this year the Orchid Show will run two weeks longer than previous years.
“The Orchid Show showcases the Garden as a four-season destination,” said Jodi Zombolo, associate vice president for visitor events and programs. “The winter months after the new year tend to be dreary. But this show brightens visitors’ spirits and gives them a reason to venture out.”
This year’s show is themed Orchids in Vogue, and takes a playful look at how orchids have been celebrated in popular culture. Some highlights of the 2017 show are several “dresses” made from natural materials and orchids and a 15-foot tall “wind chime” made from Vanda orchids. Visitors can also see some rare orchids, including the striking Phalaenopsis ‘V3’ orchid that’s rarely on display at botanic gardens, and a hybrid of Phragmipedium kovachii, which, when discovered in the Peruvian Andes, was hailed as one of the most important orchid discoveries in the last century.
“Visitors can look forward to learning how orchids have influenced and continue to inspire popular culture through art, fashion and design,” Zombolo said.
The Orchid Show is open every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ticket prices for members/nonmembers are as follows: adults $10/$12, seniors 62+ and children 3-12 $8/$10, children 2 and under are free. Buy parking in advance for faster entry. Visitors can save more than 30 percent with a special online package that includes parking and two tickets.
Several events will be held throughout the run of the Orchid Show. Members can attend an exclusive preview of the show before it opens on Friday, February 10, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Browse the show while listening to the music of Callaloo, a world fusion steel pan group, and enjoying light refreshments. Orchid experts will be on hand to answer all orchid-related questions. Evening with Orchids, a cocktail tasting among the show’s 10,000 orchids, will take place on Thursday, March 16, from 6 to 8 p.m. Morning Music with Orchids takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. throughout the show and invites visitors to enjoy performances by local musicians.
The Illinois Orchid Society Spring Show & Sale will be held during the show on Saturday, March 11, and Sunday, March 12. Individual orchids in 128 classes will vie for ribbons, including “best of class” green ribbons and the Chicago Horticultural Society Award from the American Orchid Society judges for the best-appointed plant in the show. Visitors can see displays of artistically arranged orchids. Repotting services, vendors and orchid-based activities for children will also take place. Photographers’ Hour will be held from Sunday, March 12, starting at 9 a.m.
Other show highlights:
- Weekends feature the Orchid Marketplace, where you can pick out your own orchid to take home, and experts from the Illinois Orchid Society to answer questions.
- Interested in taking photos of the gorgeous orchids at the show? Inspiration can be found in the Krehbiel Gallery, where large-scale orchid images by Anne Belmont at the 2014 Orchid Show line the walls. If you want to use a tripod or monopod to shoot photos, they’re allowed on Wednesdays from noon to 4 p.m. Professional photographers can get exclusive access to the Orchid Show with a private photography rental for groups of up to 20, with tripods allowed. Learn more about photography at the Garden.
- The Lenhardt Library will feature Orchidpalooza: Illustrated Orchid Varieties, a rare book exhibition featuring five over-sized chromolithographs from Frederick Sander’s “Reichenbachia: Orchids Illustrated and Described,” published in 1895.
- The Garden Shop will also have orchid products available for purchase, including mini orchids, orchid pots, books and jewelry.
On Thursday, March 30, a post-show sale gives Garden visitors the opportunity to buy plants from the Orchid Show at reduced prices. Garden Plus, Director’s Circle and President’s Circle members have priority access at 10 a.m.; all levels of membership are allowed in beginning at noon, and the general public hours are from 2 to 4 p.m.
Download Orchid Show images for media use (attribute all photos to the Chicago Botanic Garden).