HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS – A compilation by Tom Hewitt
Let’s face it— The Holiday Season can be brutal. Sure, Christmas Morning is wonderful. We get to see the world through our children’s eyes, as they rip through presents under the tree. BUT getting to that point can be exhausting. There are so many demands on our schedule that we just don’t have the time to track down fun, educational things to do with our children.
Fear not, oh weary warrior! I have taken the time to compile a comprehensive list of “Holiday Happenings” for you. They range from the simple to the sublime, from free to the dear. I hope this list lightens your load and that you and your family get to partake in some of these festive outings.
Metro Philadelphia offers many exciting events for your family and I highly suggest taking advantage of the “Philly PHLASH” bus system to get around town. It is the most convenient and affordable way to get to the major Holiday attractions. There are 22 stops along the route with a stop scheduled every 15 minutes. All PHLASH vehicles are wheelchair accessible and the price is right—$5 for an all-day pass, Children under four, and Seniors ride for free—They even offer discounted parking at area garages! It is easy to see why PHLASH was awarded a 2015 Certificate of Excellence on Trip Advisor. Advance tickets, a route map, and more details are available via the app at RidePhillyPHLASH.com
“Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest”
Location: 101 South Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA Date: Now through March 6th, 2016
Admission: General Admission to the Winterfest is Free. Ice Skating is $3. Skate Rentals $10
Time: Monday—Thursday 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday 11: a.m. to 11 p.m.
Description: Winterfest is one of Philadelphia’s “must-see” winter attractions, offering family friendly activities, amazing holiday light displays, delicious food offerings, and of course, an Olympic sized skating rink overlooking the Delaware River. The site is adorned with holiday trees, warming huts, fire pits, and cozy seating. Special events are planned for Christmas Eve, Christmas day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. For More information call 215-925-RINK or visit www.DelawareRiverWaterfront.com
“Macy’s Christmas Light Show” and “Dickens Village”
Location: Macy’s, 1300 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA Date: Now through Dec 31, 2015
Admission: Free Time: Shows every day at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Description: A Philadelphia tradition since 1956!! Located inside the historic Wannamaker Building, the Christmas light show at Macy’s Center City will delight children of all ages. Watch with fascination as more than 100,000 LED lights create festive holiday images with story narration by Julie Andrews and a concert from the Wanamaker Grand Organ. After the light show, venture to the third floor of Macy’s and experience the 6,000 square foot “Dickens Village”, which brings the classic “A Christmas Carol” to life with more than 100 fully animated figures reenacting man of the story’s most memorable moments.
“Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer: The Musical”
Location: Merriam Theater 250 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19102
Date: December 17th – 20th , 2015
Admission: Family Circle – $30-$45; Balcony – $45-$55; Orchestra – $55-$70
Time: varies show times
Description: “The beloved TV classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer which “soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season. Join us in celebrating Rudolph’s 50 years on television and come see all of your favorite characters as they come to life in the all new Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical. It’s an adventure that teaches us that what makes you different can be what makes you special. “
“The Comcast Holiday Spectacular”
Location: 1701 JFK Blvd, Philadelphia, PA Date: Now through January 3rd, 2016
Admission: Free Time: Continuous shows from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Description: The “Market and Shops at Comcast Center” offer a variety of dining and shopping options. At the top of every hour you can experience an amazing video wall with one of the world’s highest resolution LED displays as dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet move to the music of the Nutcracker, a magical sleigh floats over the Philadelphia skyline and actors from the historic Walnut Street Theater perform—all to a seasonal soundtrack presented by a 64 piece orchestra.
“Christmas Spectacular by the Philly POPS!”
Location: Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, PA Date: Select dates, now through Dec 22nd, 2015
Admission: $32 to $121 Time: Matinee Shows at 3 p.m., Evening shows at 8 p.m.
Description: An uplifting performance for the entire family, the Philly Pops Christmas Spectacular features a special mix of joyous choirs, sing-a-longs, and a special visitor from the North Pole. This years’ performance features the POPS Festival Chorus, the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir, and the Philadelphia Boys Choir backed by renowned organist Peter Conte playing a magnificent 6,000 pipe organ. More information and tickets are available at PhillyPops.org
“Christmas in Peddler’s Village”
Location: Routes 202 and 263, Lahaska PA Date: Now through January 2nd, 2016
Admission: Free Time: Shops open at 10 a.m. Closing times vary
Description: Discover this historic and charming village featuring distinctive shopping, dining, and lodging options. For the Christmas season, the Village is beautifully decorated, Victorian –style, with fruit wreaths, holiday greenery and nearly one million sparkling lights. There is live entertainment, and special events are scheduled throughout December including The Christmas Festival Parade featuring Santa, Mrs. Claus, and all of Santa’s helpers. Check out the amazing display of sugary artistry at the “Gingerbread House Competition and Display”. You can visit the Giggleberry Fair, an indoor family fun center, and schedule a “Breakfast with Santa”. Not in the mood for breakfast? Then visit the Cock and Bull Restaurant and enjoy “Santa’s Brunch” or the “Nutcracker Tea”. The events and times are limited and require reservations. You can book online at peddlersvillage.com or call 215-794-4051 for more information.
“A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place”
Location: 100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, PA Date: Select Dates through Dec. 31st, 2015
Admission: $25 (Good for Two Visits) online Time: Show times Vary
Description: Sesame Place has been transformed into a one-of-a-kind Christmas wonderland with millions of lights, festive decorations, and whirling rides. Visit “Cookie’s Monster Land” featuring five rides, a three story net climb, and a soft play area for toddlers. Enjoy live shows including “Elmo the Musical-Christmas”, “1-2-3 Christmas Tree”, and the “Elmo’s Christmas Wish”. Ride the Sesame Place Furry Express train through Twiddlebugs’ Gingerbread Cookie Factory. Surely, you won’t want to miss the NEW Neighborhood Street Party Christmas Parade. The parade features ten fantastic floats and Elmo’s special rap to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. The parade finale will leave everyone filled with warm, fuzzy feelings of Sesame Christmas spirit. Visit Sesameplace.com for more information.
“Holiday Light Show at Shady Brook Farm”
Location: 931 Stony Hill Road, Morrisville, PA Date: Now through January 10, 2016
Admission: $25 per carload/Multi pass discounts available OR Enjoy an open air, tractor drawn wagon ride for $12 per personTime: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Description: Experience more than three million sparkling multi-colored lights as you drive through the Shady Brook Farm Holiday Light Show. Or, weather permitting, hop aboard the tractor drawn open air wagon and enjoy the show with your entire group. Stop by the Farm Market for a cup of hot coco then toast up some s’mores at the bonfire. Stop by Santa’s Village to go over those last minute additions to your wish list and get your photo taken with the Big Man. On Monday December 7th and Wednesday December 9th celebrate “Pet Day at the Farm”. From Noon to 4 pm on both days, you can bring in your four legged or two winged kids in for a visit and photo with Santa. Check out Shadybrookfarm.com for more information.
“A Brandywine Christmas at Brandywine Museum”
Location: 1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford, PA Date: Now through January 3rd, 2016
Admission: $15 Adults, $10 Seniors, $6 Students ages 6 to 18, Free for ages 5 and under
Time: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Description: Christmas spirit takes over the Brandywine River Museum with a festive display of towering trees soaring up through the museum’s three story atrium. The trees feature whimsical “critter” ornaments which are handcrafted by Brandywine volunteers, and made from natural materials. You will be amazed by the exquisite Victorian Doll House and a collection of rare dolls dressed in beautiful period clothing. Many of the dolls were donated by the family of artist and composer Ann Wyeth McCoy (1915-2005). The display depicts a sledding party on the hill in front of N.C. Wyeth’s home. Throughout the month, the Museum has special events and programs planned including a Christmas Carol Concert and an interactive dance program based on the Nutcracker. You can reserve tickets online at Brandywine.org or by calling 610-388-2700.
“Christmasland at Linvilla Orchards”
Location: 137 W. Knowlton Road, Media, PA Date: Now through January 3rd, 2016
Admission: Free to enter. Christmas trees- $59.99 Time: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Description: Linvilla Orchards has transformed into the North Pole—Farm Style. The Farm Market is stocked with tasty holiday treats like mulled cider and freshly baked cakes and cookies. The Garden Center has poinsettias, toys, gifts, lights, candles and other holiday décor for sale. On Saturday evenings, visitors can celebrate the ancient tradition of “Wassailing” and sing Christmas Carols during hayrides, complete with live music. After your hayride sit around a campfire roasting marshmallows and drinking apple cider or visit the Barnyard and see the animals in their winter coats. You can start a new “family tradition” by taking the whole family on a hayride to the Christmas tree fields. You can choose the perfect tree among the 40,000 or so trees planted—most of which are 6 to 10 foot Douglass Fir. Linvilla Orchards also has pre-cut trees available in the Garden Center. Visit Linvilla.com for more information.
“A Longwood Christmas”
Location: 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA Date: Now through January 10, 2016
Admission: Prices vary. Choose non-peak days/times for lower prices and smaller crowds
Time: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Timed admission tickets may be purchased online.
Description: No holiday is complete without a visit to Longwood Gardens, where more than 500,000 twinkling lights and spectacular fountain shows compose a brilliant wonderland your family will surely love. As you stroll through the grounds, marvel at lights strung on 40 miles of wire glowing in the trees. Large starry snowflakes and icicles sparkle throughout the Gardens, while the continuously performing theater fountains present the colors of a Christmas rainbow. Enjoy the sounds of the season with special performances from local musicians, special guests, and sing-a-longs with the Longwood Organ. Check out longwoodgardens.org for a holiday performance schedule or to purchase tickets.
“Winter Solstice Celebration”
Location: 964 Merrybell Lane, Kennett Square, PA Date: December 22, 2015
Admission: $5 for Land Conservancy Members, $10 for Non-members
Time: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Description: Join The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County at the Stateline Woods Preserve on Tuesday evening December 22nd to celebrate the longest night of the year, as well as the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. We will celebrate with a choir, bonfire, hot chocolate, and of course, lighting the evergreen tree! All proceeds from the Winter Solstice Celebration will go towards the Bucktoe Cemetery.
“Twilight Tours at Hagley Museum”
Location: 201 Hagley Creek Road, Wilmington, DE Date: Select Dates through Dec 30th
Admission: Free for Museum members, $10 for Guests
Time: Tours are every half hour from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Description: This is an excellent opportunity to experience the du Pont family residence by the warm winter glow of candles and twilight. Small groups will be guided through the house and get an intimate glimpse at the holiday season as the du Ponts would have experienced it after a long day of gift making, calling and merry making. Tours begin at the Visitor Center followed by a ride through the powder yards to the residence. Make your reservations early as these special small tours tend to fill up quickly. Visit Hagley.org for more details.
“A Christmas Story: The Musical”
Location: The Clear Space Theater 20 Baltimore Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE Date: Select Dates through Dec 13th, 2015
Admission: General Admission $30 Seniors $25 Students/Children $15
Time: Matinee shows 3 p.m. Evening shows 7 p.m.
Or New Jersey Area Showing:
Location: Paper Mill Playhouse 22 Brookside Drive · Millburn, NJ 07041
Date: November 25, 2015 thru January 3, 2016 (Autism Friendly Show: 12/29/15 at 1:30)
Time: Matinee shows 1:30 p.m. Evening shows 7p.m.
Admission: $32 General Admission -$108 Orchestra
Description: The Clear Space Theatre and Paper Mill Playhouse present a musical adaptation of the timeless classic “A Christmas Story”. Little Ralphie Parker takes us back to the late 50’s. It is Christmas time in a small mid-western town and the only gift that satisfy Ralphie is an Official Red Rider Carbine-Action 200 Shot Range Model Air Rifle (with a compass in the stock). Follow along as Ralphie tries to convince his parents– though Santa Claus—that he is old enough to handle a B-B gun.
Well, there you have it—-several fun, exciting and educational holiday happenings options for you to enjoy with your family this holiday season. You may have noticed that I did not include any information about model train exhibitions. There are many excellent displays out there and it is a subject that is dear to my heart. If it is a subject that interests you, check back in the coming weeks as I will post a HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS devoted to model train displays. I hope you found this post useful. Finally, I want to wish you all a very happy holiday season and a blessed and prosperous new year.