PHILADELPHIA >> The Philadelphia Flower Show’s colorful history goes way back, but did you know the Black Tie Preview Party marks its 50th anniversary this year?
Set for March 4 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the fundraiser for the community greening initiatives of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society offers a VIP opportunity to experience the designs and displays of the “Explore America” Flower Show, right on the show floor, the night before it opens to the public.
“You can walk around with your friends and take advantage of this beautiful setting before the crowds arrive,” said PHS Director of Communications Alan Jaffe.
This year’s celebration will feature the presentation of Best in Show awards to floral and garden designers, food (heavy hors d’oeuvres and small plates) and cocktail stations, live music by area newgrass band Sparkle Pony and a chance to meet new PHS President Matt Rader.
The first celebration in 1966 was at the former Philadelphia Civic Center, which the Flower Show called home for many years. Over the years, special guests have included Prince Albert of Monaco, fashion icons Tory Burch and C.Z. Guest and a host of diplomats, senators, Pennsylvania governors and other business and community leaders. This year’s honorary Black Tie Preview Party co-chairs are Dorrance Hamilton and Pennsylvania First Lady Frances Wolf; both are expected to attend.
Benefactors ($650 tickets) will be admitted at 6 p.m.; patron admission ($500 tickets) is at 7 p.m., and the party hours have been extended this year to 11 p.m. Under-40 subscriber tickets are $300. For more details, visit www.pennhort.net/previewparty.
But that’s not all. On Jan. 30, there’s a free “Design Trends” Flower Show Artistic Workshop from 10 a.m. to noon at the Lower Gwynedd Township Park Building at Penllyn Woods, 1125 Township Line Road. Reservations are not required, and you don’t have to be an exhibitor to attend.
The Artistic Workshop “Creative Staging for Niches and Point Scoring” Feb. 3 — also from 10 to noon at Penllyn Woods — will get into the nuances of horticultural presentation. It, too, is free and open to the public.
Bring a brown bag lunch for “Growing, Grooming & Entering,” a how-to for growing a prize-winning plant for the Hamilton Horticourt, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 11 at Meadowbrook Farm, 1633 Washington Lane, Jenkintown. Cost is $10, $5 for PHS members. Coffee and tea will be provided.
“They don’t have to be just in the audience at the Flower Show; they can be participants,” Jaffe commented.
The official countdown to the show begins with the “Bloom Philly Festival.” From Feb. 20 through March 3, break out of the winter blahs as more than 100 restaurants, hotels, museums and shops across the region put on their spring best with a window/lobby decorating contest and serve up special offers to celebrate the Flower Show. The theme is the centennial of the U.S. National Parks System.
“Any business that’s interested in participating can do this,” Jaffe said.
Who’s up for a heart-pumping run? The Flower Show Run Into Spring 5K will be held Feb. 21. According to Jaffe, last year’s 5K drew between 200 and 300 participants.
“There’s always those intrepid runners that never give up,” he said of running in the cold.
The course is reportedly fast and flat,and on closed city streets, beginning at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Register at www.active.com/philadelphia-pa/running/races/run-into-spring-5k-2016.
Center City District presents a “Sip and Skate” 5 to 9 p.m. Feb. 24, beginning at the Rothman Cabin and Rothman Ice Rink in Dilworth Park, 1 S. 15th St., Philadelphia. The event invites you to try new bars across the city.
The “Explore America” theme of the Flower Show celebrates the beauty, history and culture of our national parks. A special screening of a “National Parks Adventure” IMAX movie, narrated by Robert Redford, will be held 9:15 a.m. Feb. 27 at the Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th St.
The “Ultimate Pop Up Picnic” welcomes everyone to get outside 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 27 to throw a Frisbee, bring a picnic basket, etc., at Reading Terminal Market, across from the Convention Center at Filbert and 12th streets.
The Flower Show runs March 5 to 13 at the Convention Center, 1101 Arch St. For more information, visit www.theflowershow.com or www.facebook.com/theflowershow, and on Twitter and Instagram @PhilaFlowerShow.
Check the social media accounts during the week of Feb. 29 for contests to win flowers delivered to your workplace.