As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, the 2021 and 2022 events were located outdoors for the first time in the show’s history. Planners aim to bring some of those new experiences back to the Pennsylvania Convention Center during next year’s event, which is being held March 4-12.
ABOVE PHOTO: (Graphic by Pennsylvania Horticultural Society)
By Amy V. Simmons
For the past two years, organizers of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society had to accommodate the expectations of both loyal attendees and newcomers. Taking a traditional, world-renowned event and reinventing it in a new setting, and at a different time of year, was both bold and risky.
Yet, despite the fact that there was no guarantee that it would all succeed, it did.
During a recent press conference held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where the event will be returning to in March 2023, officials were keen to emphasize lessons learned over the past two years, but also celebrated the return of the award-winning show to its indoor, late winter roots — which is part of its charm and allure.
“The Flower Show is like no other,” said PHS President Matt Rader. “This is a hometown event. This is something we should be immensely proud of here at America’s garden capital. No other U.S. city has anything like this, and the world knows Philadelphia for this event.”
“The past two outdoor flower shows at FDR Park really challenged us to create new experiences for guests while always thinking about health and safety,” said PHS Director of Experiences and Engagement Rebecca Schuchart. “We created live music performances, elevated crafting experiences, enhanced retail opportunities, and spaces for kids and families. These make the Flower Show an event that has something for everyone, whether you’re an expert gardener, a plant, a parent, or just seeking a fun, beautiful, immersive floral experience. Now in our return to the Convention Center, we are not leaving behind those amazing moments and the incredible vibe our guests loved at FDR part. Instead, we are taking the very best elements from the outdoor Flower Show and bringing them back inside with us, and we are reimagining the experiences that people know and love from the indoor Flower Show.”
The short turnaround between the 2023 show and last June’s event has not slowed participation or enthusiasm, Schuchart said.
“We’re kind of used to doing things on a quick turnaround because when we’re planning for the current one, we’re kind of thinking ahead for the future, too,” she said. “So, to be quite honest, when we were planning last year’s show, at the tail end, when we were getting ready to load in, we were already getting ready for this one, too.”
Keeping the theme fresh, inspiring, and exciting every year is a priority.
The 2023 show theme — “The Garden Electric” — is no exception.
“ “The Garden Electric” takes the position that flowers and gardens can be a place of magic, of celebration, and of joy and excitement, and we want to capture that little bit of magic and electricity that we feel when we are moved by something truly beautiful or something spectacular,” said Seth Pearsoll, PHS’S creative director. “In contrast to the previous two years — where we explored themes around restoration and tranquility — the Garden Electric will explore the bold, the daring and the eccentric side of flowers and gardens.”
A popular addition to the Flower Show over the past two years has been live music. This new tradition will continue at the Convention Center under the guidance of SNACKTIME — a local seven-piece band that gained notoriety during the peak of the pandemic, when live performances outside were the only option for musicians and the public. The bandstand will also feature other local artists throughout the event — all free of charge.
The Kids Cocoon play and learn area — another popular feature, also free of charge — is returning.
Additionally, the show will continue to offer unique add-on experiences and activities for a modest fee, tailored for the return to the Convention Center. A number of these now-familiar Flower Show traditions will return, including the early morning tour program — which will be expanded to include weekend tour times — the Bloom Bar, Artisan Row, Butterflies Live!, guided photography tours, potting parties, and more.