Festival of Trees illuminates holiday season

Needham’s Bill Meagher hand-carves the mountains and stone walls of the Snow Village every year.

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

The lights of the Snow Village carnival can make you forget it is not a real place.

The lights of the Snow Village carnival can make you forget it is not a real place.

As your car winds down the dark woods leading to the Massachusetts’s Horticultural Society’s Festival of Trees, it’s easy to forget you are in Wellesley. Stone-lined one-way bridges and deep tree-lined forests can have you convinced you’re heading into the woods of Vermont or Maine. That is, until the sudden appearance of funny little red signs poetically assuring you that you’re heading the right way appear, offering reassurance before you’re greeted with the sudden burst of color from the garden’s illuminated trees.

The Festival of Trees and Snow Village were worth the drive, worth the fifteen-dollar admission, and more than worth your time.

Fenway Park was just one of the icons represented in the Snow Village.

Fenway Park was just one of the icons represented in the Snow Village.

Upon entry, visitors were greeted by a room full of artificial trees, all of which were decorated by local businesses in unique styles ranging from traditional bells and holly to pink boas, glitter and a unicorn head. With a small donation, attendees could enter for the chance to win one of the trees, some of which were decorated with things like scratch tickets, wine and gift cards to tempt visitors even further.

But as impressive as the Festival of Trees was, the Snow Village may have been even better. Donated by Needham’s Bill and Ellen Meagher in 2014, the village took up an entire room filled with model trains, snow-filled mountains, and a Christmas village that seemed to function like an actual city. While tantalized visitors likely noticed landmarks ranging from Fenway Park to the Italianate Garden at Elm Bank, one could spend hours perusing the village’s little details and intricate moving parts: figure skaters that moved around the pond, a waterwheel that really turned, or a gondola that traversed back and forth across the ski mountain, for example.

This year’s Snow Village exists under the shadow of a large ski mountain.

This year’s Snow Village exists under the shadow of a large ski mountain.

Bill Meagher rearranges the village every year. He begins in August and hand-carves the mountains and stone walls so that even Wellesley residents that have seen the village before will be impressed at the changes every year.

And this is to say nothing of the garden full of colorfully lit trees, or the giant statues of goddesses lit by spotlights that adorn the garden grounds for people willing to brave the cold.

As it has for years now, Elm Bank delighted its holiday visitors.

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