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Battle of the Blooms: Which Annual Flower Show Should You Visit?

Two vibrant shows hit the city this month. Here’s how they stack up.

Chicago Flower & Garden Show
Navy Pier, March 20 to 24
Macy’s Flower Show
111 N. State St., March 24 to April 7
Round 1: Longevity
The event was born in 1847, when the Chicago Horticultural Society hosted its first Exhibition of Fruits and Flowers. A little over 20 years old, this New York City transplant is still likely to get carded.
Round 2: Size
170,000 square feet 3,000 square feet
Round 3: Price
A one-day pass will set you back $20 ($5 for kids). Free — besides whatever stuff you end up buying at Macy’s.
Round 4: Chance of Getting Lost in a Fantasy
Medium. Lush, literature-inspired gardens whisk you away, but landscaping companies hawking patio renovations bring you back. (Plus, “Flowertales” is a rerun of last year’s theme.) High. Macy’s goes galactic this year with a journey to a fictional floral planet, Paradisios, where you might spy a friendly extraterrestrial.
Round 5: How NSFW Is It?
Local chefs of Nude Dude Food will be shirtless beneath their aprons. Hard to picture last year’s celeb chef, Rick Bayless, baring it all. That hot oil spatters.
Round 6: Instagram Influencer Inspo
Brush up on your smartphone photography with a free (with admission) March 20 master class on taking and sharing flower pics. Last year’s yoga and dance classes among the blooms and racks offered a twist on the typical “I’m so fit” humblebrag post.
Round 7: Likelihood of Entering Plant Parenthood
Decent. For an extra $20, attendees can go to “potting parties” and create their own container gardens filled with colorful blooms and dreams of winter’s hasty demise. Zilch. The plants are for ogling in store only — though Macy’s will be happy to hook you up with a Daisy by Marc Jacobs fragrance set to take home.
The winner: Chicago Flower & Garden Show
Sure, you have to pay, but the spread of plants and activities will satisfy even the most die-hard HGTV fan.

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