The Philadelphia Flower Show is moving to a new location next year, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the show’s organizer, announced Thursday in an email to members. The location is yet to be determined, but PHS is looking at early summer of 2021, instead of its usual early March schedule.
Billed as the “largest indoor flower show in the world,” the Flower Show welcomes hundreds of thousands of people every year to the Convention Center. In 2019, attendance totaled 250,000.
Because of the pandemic, the Convention Center hasn’t hosted a single event since the 2020 Philadelphia Flower Show closed March 8. gardenscapes
With no end in sight for the pandemic, PHS says it’s now looking for a location “with an eye on the outdoors.”
“Philadelphia is our home and offers a number of locations where the Show will benefit from ‘borrowed scenery,’ space for safe distancing, and access to mass transit, parking, and major highways,” PHS wrote in the email.
PHS exhibitors, partners, volunteers, contractors, and vendors are being engaged in the decision, the email noted.
The show is nearly two centuries old, and this isn’t the first time it has made a move. In 1829, the show held its first exhibition in Masonic Hall, an 82-foot-by-69-foot building on Chestnut Street. It was two years after PHS was founded, and 25 of its members filled the space with a modest display of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Over the years, the show bounced around, from the former Philadelphia Commercial Museum at 34th and South Streets to the Armory of the First Troop of Philadelphia City Cavalry, home to the oldest mounted military unit.
Starting in 1966, the show was held in the now-demolished Civic Center. PHS became the official producer in 1968, carrying on the show in the Civic Center until 1996, when it moved to the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Ever since, the Flower Show has packed the Convention Center with a spring oasis — often in what feels like the dead of winter. Starting in 2016, the show shifted a week later to avoid lower attendance caused by snow, and then again in 2017, only to have a late season nor’easter dump over seven inches of wet weather. As snow fell, attendance numbers dropped, too. In 2018, a snowstorm wreaked havoc on the opening night for “Wonders of Water,” which was hit by a snowstorm the following week. And in 2019, snow struck again.
Inclement weather has been a decades-long battle. On March 13, 1993, the show was forced to close early when the infamous Blizzard of ’93 struck the area.
Butwith the show shifting to the summer, it’ll be the heat and humidity that may present a major, if not larger challenge, than snow.
“We decided to have the show. That’s the big news, and safety will be a very high priority in guiding all the decisions we make,” says Lisa Stephano, PHS chief marketing officer. “We’re hoping to have some more definitive information in the next few weeks, but the virus has really prompted us to take a fresh look at the show.”
Stephano says PHS hopes to announce the new location by early fall.