The gowns, the dancing, the feeling that you just stepped into a scene from Gossip Girl. These are just a few reasons why one would want to attend the New York Botanical Garden’s Winter Wonderland Ball. Touted as one of the “Best Parties of the Year” since 1999, the Wonderland Ball is an annual soireé where Manhattan’s fashionistas don their most fabulous black, white (and even red) attire and make the trek to the Bronx to toast the New York Botanical Garden. I had the honor of attending Friday night’s Ball, marking my first visit to the Botanical Garden and it’s sure to be a night I won’t soon forget.
The Botanical Garden, which is easily accessible through Metro North, hosts this event every year in conjunction with their Annual Holiday Train Show–an internationally acclaimed display of model trains winding through replicas of iconic New York Landmarks. The Ball supports the Garden’s world-renowned Children’s Education programs. These programs provide undeserved children in the Bronx an opportunity to learn about nature through workshops and hands-on activities.
Cocktail hour commenced the evening in the Garden’s breathtaking Palm Dome. In between gazing (while avoiding to step on) the angelic gowns, attendees enjoyed an hour of cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres. Manhattan’s elite showed up dressed in Oscar de la Renta (known to the crowd as simply, Oscar), Vera Wing, and The Wonderland Ball’s newest partner, Monique Lhuiller. Model Andie Arthur, who wore a sea glass embroidered gown from Lhuiller’s Spring 2013 collection, looked flawless. As Arthur explained, “It’s hard not to make any of Monique’s dresses look amazing.” Lhuiller who extremely approachable (and quite petite), remarked, “Andie truly lights up the room in this dress.”
It’s usually a good sign when the dance floor is packed during such a highly-visible event, but it’s unusual that there’s dancing before the first dinner course. Thanks to the unbelievable DJ, it was difficult to corral guests (myself included), off the dance floor for dinner. Guests only began to sit when President and Chief Executive Officer of The New York Botanical Garden, Gregory Long, presented his brief speech, thanking the Chairmen for their hard work in planning the Ball.
After dinner, the dancing, socializing and drinking continued—well past the official end of the Ball at Midnight. As Melinda Manning, the Garden’s VP of Communications explained, the Wonderland Ball is one of the Garden’s most electric events of the year. “The young and vibrant guests that attend the Winter Wonderland Ball, always make this a fun event,” Manning explained. “They love to dance and enjoy themselves and our supporters are why the Ball is always the must-attend event of the season.”
The night ended as lively as it began. As guests reluctantly left the dance floor and piled into the line of black town cars like chariots awaiting to take them back to Manhattan, it was easy to see why people wait all year to attend the Wonderland Ball. My first trip to the Botanical Garden was truly a remarkable night, full of unforgettable moments but most importantly, unbeatable fashion watching.
To learn more about the New York Botanical Garden, visit their website.