What To Do: Goodbye Black Friday, hello Christmas season

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By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times

Longwood Gardens

Thanksgiving 2017 is now in the history books. Black Friday has arrived. The tsunami known as the Christmas holiday season is ready to tear through the area with never-ending sales, a barrage of holiday songs emanating from everywhere, incessant bellringers and a huge array of traditional holiday events and activities.

One of the region’s top holiday attractions — Longwood Gardens — is the place to be for those ready to embrace the spirit of the season.

Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) has shifted into holiday mode with the arrival of “A Longwood Gardens Christmas.”

The festive holiday display at Longwood Gardens, which opened on Thanksgiving Day and is continuing through January 7, features spectacular lights, lavish decorations, holiday music and colorful displays featuring thousands of brilliant poinsettias, brightly-decorated trees and fragrant flowers — all inside the heated Conservatory.

The colorful annual event, which appeals to the entire family, also has a lot of outdoor attractions such as fountain shows and nighttime light displays. Longwood’s Christmas celebration also includes a wide array of seasonal music — holiday concerts, organ sing-alongs and carillon performances.

The organ sing-alongs will be featured in the Ballroom either three or six times a day. There will also be performances by choirs and musicians almost every evening throughout December.

When darkness arrives at Longwood, a night-blooming garden of more than a half-million lights strung on close to 100 trees with approximately 40 miles of wire comes to life. A carillon with 62 cast bells plays holiday music every half hour during daylight hours. Longwood’s Open Air Theatre fountains dance to holiday music each half hour — temperature permitting.

As always, admission by “Timed Ticket” — tickets issued for specific dates and times. Timed ticketing limits the number of people in the Gardens at any given time and allows guests to enjoy minimal lines and a better viewing experience. There are different prices for “Peak” and “Off Peak” times.

Visitors to “A Longwood Gardens Christmas” can also check out Longwood’s Garden Railway — a whimsical display set into motion with G-scale model trains. This is the 16th year that the railway has delighted visitors with special water features and custom trains traveling in and out of bridges and tunnels.

Admission to Longwood Gardens is $23 (non-peak), $30 (peak) for adults, $20/$27 for seniors (ages 62 and older) and $12/$16 for students (ages 5-18).

 

Small Business Saturday is the day Kennett Square celebrates the Shop Small movement to drive shoppers to local merchants across the United States.

Visitors on November 25 are invited to enjoy Kennett Square’s downtown area featuring locally owned small businesses.

Horse-drawn carriage rides will be offered in downtown Kennett Square on December 3, 10 and 17 from noon to 3 p.m. The rides begin on State Street at Union Street and tickets are $5.

 

A Brandywine Christmas

“A Brandywine Christmas”, which runs from now through -January 7 at the Brandywine River Museum (Route 1, Chadds Ford 610-388-2700,www.brandywinemuseum.org), is an annual event that is fun for the entire family.

The museum’s ever-popular “critter” ornaments will be used to decorate holiday trees, wreaths and diorama settings throughout the museum. The intricately designed ornaments are made from all-natural materials by museum volunteers and have found homes on trees at the White House and the Smithsonian Institution.

The well-attended annual “Critter Sale” is scheduled for November 30 and December 1-3 from 5-9 p.m. on November 30 and 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. from December 1-3.

“A Brandywine Christmas” also features an extensive O-gauge model. Five moving trains operate at all times and include a 60-car freight train winding past a village, stone quarry, oil refinery, mountains, Herr Foods plant, running waterfall and animated skating scene.

Special events include “Carols Concerts” throughout December, “A Guided Tour of Critters Display” on November 30, “The Polar Express Read-Aloud Pajama Night” on November 30, “Children’s Christmas Party” on December 6, “Breakfast with the Trains” on December 9 and 16, “19th Century Christmastide” on December 9, and “Terrific Trains Family Program” on January 6.

Admission is $18 for adults, $15 for seniors (65 and older) and $6 for children.

The activity calendar for the weekend does feature a few non-holiday events worth checking out.

Every year, there are numerous celebrations around America to honor patriots. “Patriot Day” is celebrated in September to remember those lost on 9.11 and New England has “Patriots’ Day,” which is celebrated in April to commemorate the battles of Lexington and Concord.

The Brandywine Valley has “Patriot’s Day” — a special celebration that will be held from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on November 25 at the Brandywine Battlefield (Route 1, Chadds Ford, 610-459-3342, http://brandywinebattlefield.org).

On September 11, 1777, approximately 30,000 thousand British and American soldiers fought in the Chadds Ford area in what is known as the Battle of the Brandywine. On that warm day, musket and cannon fire echoed over the rolling hills of the Brandywine Valley and changed the landscape and views of its inhabitants for years after.

This historically-rich environment located in Delaware County, Pennsylvania represents many aspects of American life, especially in the 18th century. Today, the Brandywine Battlefield historic site sits on 46.5 acres of the location that was the Continental encampment and offers many different programs and tours to the public to foster the appreciation for historical thinking and preservation.

Visitors to the park on “Patriots’ Day” are given the opportunity to step back in time to a small outpost in the area in the winter of 1777. The event will feature Colonial soldiers along with sutlers and period interpreters. There will be a presentation by General George Washington in the afternoon.

Activities include musket firing demonstrations, tours of Washington’s Headquarters (Ring House), 18th-century period interpreters and children’s activities including Colonial toys, “Make a Flag” and Colonial games

There will also be a lecture on the Battle of the Brandywine by Dr. Robert A. Selig Ph.D. — “The Politics of Arming America: The Valliere 4-lb Cannon at Brandywine.”

In March 1776, the Continental Congress sent Silas Deane to Versailles with a request for “100 field pieces”. In response France sent not 100, but 194, 4-lb guns, carriages, limbers and all, across the Atlantic, down to the last serviceable Valliere battalion gun in its arsenal. One of the big guns was “Le Foudre”, cast in Douay in 1756, which is today on display in our museum.

Dr. Selig’s lecture, “The Politics of Arming America: The Vallière 4-lb Cannon at Brandywine” will help answer questions on how/why this piece came to America during the Revolution and will also discuss its importance in assisting the American cause of liberty.

The park is free to walk around and use. Tickets for the house tour, museum and film are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, AAA and AARP and $5 for children (ages 6-17).

On November 25 and 26, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University (1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 215-299-1000, www.ansp.org) is hosting a special event called “Wild Wizarding Weekend.”

Visitors will be able to explore the magical world of the Academy’s phenomenal beasts with a weekend of spellbinding, hands-on activities – including meeting the Academy’s own live beasts and learning about the real animals that inspire favorite wizarding stories.

Kids of all ages can take in a Bunny and Broomsticks game, make a magical wand, and take home a dragon’s egg during this wild weekend where wizards are welcome. Anyone wearing a costume will get a $2 discount at the door.

The list of special activities includes “Castle Classes,” “Magical Myths,” “All About Owls,” “Sorted Out,” “Bunnies and Broomsticks” and “Magical Crafts.” There will also be two special shows in the auditorium – “Bad Beasts” and “Live Owl Show.”

Visitors to the museum will also be able to check out “Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies” and take a rare and exciting look at dinosaurs through their eggs, nests and embryos. The exhibit presents an astonishing array of authentic dinosaur eggs and nests collected from around the world, including examples from each of the major plant- and meat-eating dinosaur groups.

Museum admission is $19.95 for adults and $15.95 for children.

If you’re a music fan that is looking for hard-to-find collectibles such as out-of-print CDs, rare 45s, vintage music posters or albums that have been deleted from record company catalogs years ago, there is an answer other than e-Bay.

That answer is the annual “Not Just’ Rock Record Show” which is celebrating its 31st anniversary this year. The event will take place on November 24 and 25 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center (Station Avenue, Oaks, 484-754-3976, http://www.notjustrockexpo.com/).

Vince Martell

There will also be a variety of autograph guests including Vince Martell from Vanilla Fudge.

Tickets for the special holiday weekend event are $5 for either day. Show hours are from noon-6 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday.

When the Christmas season arrives in Europe, it is common to see Christmas villages erected in downtown locations of big cities. These villages are temporary sites that feature live music, a variety of holiday attractions and a large number of specialized vendors.

Philadelphia is keeping pace with the European cities with a Christmas village of its own — a special site that springs to life this weekend and continues until December 24.

“Christmas Village in Philadelphia” (Love Park, 1400 JFJ Boulevard, Philadelphia, 215-391-3017, www.philachristmas.com) is a free outdoor holiday market event that captures the vibe of the traditional European Christmas markets.

Christmas Village in Philadelphia

Christmas Village in Philadelphia is modeled after traditional German Christmas Markets. The history of Christmas markets in Germany dates to the late Middle Ages. One of the oldest and most famous ones is held each year in Nuremberg in the state of Bavaria.

It has been passed down from generation-to-generation ever since the area’s farmers started selling their crops in a farmers’ market during the Advent time in the mid-16th century. The goods presented in wooden booths include a rich variety of holiday gifts including Christmas ornaments, arts and crafts, toys, sweets, as well as German food and drinks. People stroll around, meet friends, and enjoy live performances of Christmas music.

At the Village in Philadelphia, vendors selling traditional European food, sweets and drinks are set up in 80 wooden booths and timber houses that form a medieval village. They will also offer a unique shopping experience with international holiday gifts, ornaments, jewelry and high-quality arts and crafts.

The Village will feature the sights and sounds of the holidays with thousands of twinkling lights, giant glowing stars, festive decorations, a musical stage and children’s activities. All the event’s annual fan favorites will be back, including Photos with Santa, Käthe Wohlfahrt, Herrnhuter Stars, the German Grill and the event’s main stage.

At the center of the market, an ornate and grand old-time carousel will be operating to give children of all ages a new holiday tradition while visiting the authentic German Christmas Market. The carousel features 20 wood-carved horses that will twirl around for an unforgettable view of the new market inside City Hall’s courtyard.

The primary travel itineraries for Santa Claus are riding in parades and for traveling by sleigh. But, these are far from the jolly old guy’s only means of transportation. He also makes visits using a variety of modes such as helicopters, horse-drawn carriages, fire trucks, open-air convertibles, speed boats, hot air balloons and trains.

There is something special about riding on a train that is being pulled by a steam locomotive. Almost everyone enjoys the experience — even Santa Claus. This year, Santa will be visiting several of the area’s tourist railroads to take special rides with his friends.

Santa’s Express

One of the best train rides with Santa Claus is the one presented by the West Chester Railroad (Market Street Station, West Chester, 610-430-2233 or www.westchesterrr.net).

The special “Santa’s Express” trains (which feature heated cars decorated for the holidays) will run on November 24, 25, 26, and December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17 and 23 at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. There will be additional departures at 5 p.m. on December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18.

The 90-minute journey on the trail line’s heated decorated train travels through the Chester Creek Valley. Santa Claus will be greeting everyone at Market Street Station and then going along for the ride to Glen Mills. Once at Glen Mills, passengers can disembark, explore the historic station and take advantage of photo opportunities on Santa’s lap inside the station. Live music will be provided by Greg Wright.

Adult fare for the West Chester Railroad trips is $24. Tickets for children (ages 2-12) are $17 while toddlers (ages 9-23 months) get to ride for $7.

The Wilmington & Western Railroad (2201 Newport Gap Pike, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-998-193, www.wwrr.com) will run its “Santa Claus Express” on Saturdays and Sundays between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be riding along with passengers on the steam-powered 90-minute round trip to Ashland Station. They will be greeting everyone on board and offering chocolate treats to the youngsters. Santa will also be posing for pictures with his fans.

Steam locomotion will return to the Wilmington & Western for its annual Santa Claus Express. The rail line’s 0-6-0 switcher No. 58 has returned to service after a multi-year restoration and will power Santa’s train through the Red Clay Valley this season.

Tickets for these trains, which run now through December 24, are $19 for adults, $18 for senior citizens and $17 for children.

The tourist rail line will also be running special “Holiday Night Express Trains,” featuring a peaceful evening ride in the railroad’s 1929 Doodlebug rail car. Tickets for these trains, which are running now through December 30, are $13 for adults, $12 for senior citizens and $11 for children.

The Strasburg Rail Road (Route 741, Strasburg, 717-687-7522, www.strasburgrailroad.com) is running its “Santa’s Paradise Express” from November 24 until December 17. Santa will be the featured guest on each ride from Strasburg to Paradise and back.

The rotund guy in the red suit will be greeting passengers, shaking hands, posing for photos and giving a treat to each child. After the train ride, children are treated to storybook readings of holiday classics. Visitors of all ages can also enjoy a ride aboard the Tinsel Trolley, a self-propelled motor car.

The Strasburg Railroad will also be running its “Night Before Christmas” train on November 30 and December 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22.

This very special train recreates the excitement and anticipation of Christmas Eve. A reader dressed in a Victorian nightshirt and cap will read Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem “The Night Before Christmas as the train rolls along. After the poem is read, passengers can enjoy a treat of milk and cookies.

Children are also treated to storybook readings of holiday classics aboard the stationary heated caboose and visitors of all ages can enjoy a ride aboard the Tinsel Trolley, a self-propelled motor car. In the spirit of the season, kids may come dressed in pajamas.

Tickets for rides on the Strasburg Railroad are $19 for adults, $13 for children (ages 3-11) and $4 for toddlers (under age 3).

The New Hope & Ivyland Railroad (32 Bridge Street, New Hope, 215-862-2332, www.newhoperailroad.com) is operating its “North Pole Express” now through December 31. Tickets are $49.95 for adults, $39.95 for children (ages 2-11) and $12.95 for toddlers.

Passengers can ride the rails with Santa, Mrs. Claus and a group of holiday revelers. Children and adults of all ages can sip hot cocoa and enjoy cookies while Santa visits with each child and presents them with a special gift. Local musicians will be on board to play and sing Christmas carols. Additionally, children are encouraged to come dressed in the pajamas.

Christmas trains also come in a smaller variety. Model railroad displays and the Christmas holiday season have been linked together since a time before even your parents were even kids.

One of the most elaborate model train layouts in the Delaware Valley can be found at the Morris Arboretum (100 Northwestern Avenue, Chestnut Hill, 215-247-5777,www.business-services.upenn.edu/arboretum/index.html). The popular Garden Railway Display that has become a summer fixture at The Gardens at Morris Arboretum returns again for a special holiday display.

The display, which is open to the public now through December 31 in the winter garden of the Morris Arboretum, has a quarter-mile of track featuring seven loops and tunnels with 15 different rail lines and two cable cars, nine bridges (including a trestle bridge you can walk under) and bustling model trains.

The buildings and the display are all made of natural materials — bark, leaves, twigs, hollow logs, mosses, acorns, dried flowers, seeds and stones — to form a perfectly proportioned miniature landscape complete with miniature rivers. Philadelphia-area landmarks are all meticulously decorated for the holidays with lights that twinkle.

Admission to the Morris Arboretum is $17 for adults, $15 for seniors (65 and older) and $9 for students and military.

There are plenty of reasons to take the short drive to Delaware this holiday season with tax-free shopping on everything at the top of the list. Another major reason is the annual staging of “Holidays at Hagley” — an event that is always one of the most eagerly anticipated holiday attractions in this area every year.

The popular Brandywine Valley exhibit, which is included with regular admission, opens today and continues through January 1 at Hagley Museum and Library (Route 141, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-658-2400, www.hagley.org).

The 2017 season kicks off with a special event on November 25 and 26. “Thanksgiving Weekend at Hagley” will be celebrated through Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. each day.

Families are invited to visit Hagley to enjoy activities, crafts, and games. They will be able to sample historic holiday dishes inspired by 19th-century recipes from “The Hagley Cookbook,” play hide-the-thimble and other parlor games, and dress up in 19th-century clothes for a picture-perfect memory. The special event is included in admission.

This year’s edition of “Holidays at Hagley” features tours of Eleutherian Mills, which is the first du Pont family home built in America. The tours, which will be presented each day from 10a.m.-4:30 p.m., feature decorations in a combination of styles from both the 19th and 20th centuries.

During the Victorian years when candle-lit tabletop Christmas trees were the norm, hand-made gifts were attached to tree branches, and winter scenes were displayed underneath the tree. The upstairs Victorian Library shows how magical that looked with its mid- to late-nineteenth-century toys, games and dolls. The upstairs Parlor features a case filled with small ceramic animals well-loved by some of the du Pont family children.

Early du Pont family French holiday traditions are remembered with a display of gifts that were given to E. I. du Pont’s children on New Year’s Day as well as the Twelfth Night party illustrated by the ornate French dessert service in the Dining Room.

Well-loved displays returning include the elaborate Twelfth Night celebration in the dining room and the Victorian library’s Christmas for children with its table-top tree surrounded by toys and games. Of course, there will be warm glowing lights and poinsettias.

Admission is $14 for adults, $10 for seniors and students and $5 for children (ages 6-14).

One of the best holiday events in the area is the annual “Yuletide at Winterthur.” This year’s 39th annual staging of the event, which runs from November 18 through January 7 at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library (Route 52, Wilmington, Delaware,800-448-3883, www.winterthur.org).

Revel in the beauty and warmth of the holidays as we explore treasures of Christmases past with displays of holiday traditions from the 1800s to the early 20th century, including displays of: the earliest types of colorful lights decorating house exteriors; a full-room scene of Clement Moore’s Christmas classic A Visit from St. Nicholas; the du Pont family holiday celebrations; and the evolution of Christmas trees over the decades from the 1880s to 1960s.
In celebration of the exhibit Royal Splendor: The Coronation Gown from The Crown, which showcases the magnificent coronation gown worn on the popular Netflix series The Crown, the Yuletide Tour will re-create trees enjoyed by Queen Victoria’s family at Windsor Castle, inspired by a painting depicting the queen’s celebration in 1851.

One of visitors’ favorites every year is the 18-room dollhouse mansion created by designer and philanthropist Nancy McDaniel over a period of 30 years. It features amazing intricate details in each room and is even decorated for the holidays! A tree decorated with 458 needlework ornaments, all crafted by Nancy McDaniel will also be on display.

In addition, two of Winterthur’s own iconic rooms designed by H. F. du Pont will be on display in miniature form—the Cecil Bedroom and the Queen Anne Dining Room. These rooms were created by the renowned miniature artists Eugene J. Kupjack.

As always, the rooms will be enhanced with the floral displays so essential to du Pont’s decorating, and with special Christmas trees inspired by the beauty of the Winterthur garden – including the popular Dried Flower Tree in the Conservatory.

Special family activities include “Glass Matters Wine Seminar and Tasting” (December 13),), “Brunch with Santa” (December 16, 17 and 23)

“Yuletide Jazz & Wine Concerts” (November 22 and 29, December 6, 13 and 20), theatrical presentation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” (December 6 and 7), University of Delaware Chorale performs Carols by Candlelight (December 10), and Special Charles Dickens Reading (December 6).

Timed Yuletide Tour reservations are required. Admission to Yuletide at Winterthur is $22 for adults, $20 for seniors (age 62 and older) and $5 for children (ages 2-11).

Nemours Mansion & Gardens (Route 141 South, Alapocas Drive, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-651-6912, www.nemoursmansion.org) is welcoming visitors for the Christmas holidays with special holiday-themed tours. The three-hour tours are held Tuesdays through Sundays and run now through January 3.

Originally constructed in 1910, Nemours Mansion is one of Delaware’s grandest buildings and includes the largest formal French garden in North America.

During the holiday period, the guided tours will include several stories of the house and part of the gardens. Many of the rooms featured in the tour will be decorated as they would have been when DuPont resided there in the early 1900s while some will retain their traditional period decorations.

Tickets for the tour at Nemours are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and $7 for children (under 16).

The Historic Odessa Foundation’s 2017 Christmas Holiday Tour is an event with an appeal that spans generations. The tours will be presented now through December 31 in Odessa’s historic district (Main Street, Odessa, Delaware, 302-378-4119, www.historicodessa.org).

This holiday season the Historic Odessa Foundation (HOF) is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Historic Houses of Odessa’s annual Christmas Holiday Tours and Exhibits inspired by works of classic children’s literature.

To commemorate three decades of recreating scenes from classic literature through interpretive vignettes and displays, Historic Odessa will recreate its very first 1987 exhibit “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” also known as “Twas The Night Before Christmas.” It will open on November 14 and run through New3 Year’s Eve day in the National Historic Register Wilson-Warner House (c. 1769).

This iconic Christmas poem, attributed to Clement Clark Moore and first published anonymously in 1822, will once again be presented through historically-detailed holiday vignettes throughout the 248-year old National Historic Register Wilson-Warner House. Guests will be invited to recite the classic poem as they tour the displays.

Another popular attraction is the “Storybook Trees Exhibit,” which is a festive display of Christmas trees that reflect books and works of children’s literature. The trees have been decorated by local families, schools and organizations

All of the Historic Odessa Foundation’s museum properties, collectively known as the Historic Houses of Odessa, are open and on display for the 2016 holiday season.

Special events and tours will be held throughout the holiday season including “Candlelight Tours” at 7 p.m. on December 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 26, and 28;

“Christmas in Odessa” on December 2 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; “Storybook Time” on December 6 at noon and 4:30 p.m.; “Festive Foods/Hearth Cooking Demonstration” on December 9, 16, and 23 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; “Children’s Holiday Tea Party” on December 10 at 2 p.m.; and “Curator Candlelight Tour” on December 21 at 7 p.m.

The Historic Houses of Odessa are open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 4:30 p.m. The last full tour of the Historic Houses starts at 3 p.m. The Houses will be closed on December 24 and 25. Admission to the Historic Odessa Foundation holiday tour is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and students and free for children (under 6).

Two of Montgomery County’s scenic historic sites are ready to begin celebrating the 2017 Christmas holiday season this weekend.

Pennypacker Mills (3 Haldeman Road, Perkiomenville, 610- 287-9349, www.historicsites.montcopa.org) is hosting “Victorian Holiday Tours” from November 21-January 7 while “Twelfth Night Tours at Pottsgrove Manor” (100 West King Street, Pottstown, 610-326-4014, www.historicsites.montcopa.org) are running now through January 7.

For the next seven weeks, Pennypacker Mills will offer free tours of the 18-century mansion used by General George Washington as temporary headquarters during the Revolutionary War. The home will be decorated for an old-fashioned Victorian Christmas and will feature the warm glow of oil lamps, festive decorations and a candy-making demonstration.

The event at Pottsgrove Manor features guided tours through an elegant 18th-century Georgian mansion that is decked out in period holiday decorations. Tour guides will discuss Twelfth Night celebrations and Christmastide traditions.

Visitors will be able to view the parlor and kitchen as it would have been during colonial times when the Potts family prepared for their holiday guests. They will also be able to check out the servants’ quarters and see the rustic holiday celebrations as enjoyed by the household staff.

Suggested donations for these events is $2.

Visitors to Peddler’s Village (Routes 202 and 263, Lahaska, 215-794-4000, http://peddlersvillage.com) can get in the holiday spirit at the Village-wide Grand Illumination Celebration on November 78. Village shops will be open until 9 p.m. with a distinctive assortment of merchandise, special promotions and refreshments.

The Grand Illumination Celebration, which officially arrives with a burst of color at 6:15 p.m., will showcase thousands of tiny white lights outlining the Village’s buildings, colorful lights with less-than-common colors (teal, peach, and fuscia) adorning the trees and shrubs and a landscaped backdrop featuring a group of reindeer glowing in white light.

Santa will arrive to turn on the lights and officially mark the beginning of the event. After the lights go on, visitors will be treated to free cider and toasted marshmallows.

After the Grand Illumination Switch-on, families are invited bring the kids to Giggleberry Fair for “Photos with Santa.” The Giggleberry Fair will be open through December 23.

November 20 also marks the start of Peddler’s Village “Gingerbread House Competition and Display.” Slated to run through January 2, the “Gingerbread House Competition” features over $2,000 in cash prizes in such categories as Traditional and Authentic Reproduction of a Significant Building.

A popular holiday attraction is America’s Garden Capital Maze at Dilworth Park (1 South 15th Street, Philadelphia, http://ccdparks.org/dilworth-park), a holiday-inspired Garden that was created in partnership with Greater Philadelphia
Gardens and is part of the Center City Parks District

Located on the Greenfield Lawn, the maze features vibrant plantings, topiaries, twinkling lights, and décor that showcases all of the public gardens, arboreta, and historic landscapes that are located within 30 miles of Philadelphia. A “Welcoming gazebo” will be at the center of the maze.

The Wintergarden and Maze is billed as “a way to celebrate in William Penn’s original center square and the 32 regional gardens and arboreta that make this region America’s Garden Capital.”

Dilworth Park Wintergarden participants are Shofuso Japanese House & Garden, Stoneleigh: A Natural Garden, The Barton Arboretum & Nature Preserve of Medford Leas, The Gardens at Mill Fleurs, The Highlands Mansion & Garden, The Philadelphia Zoo, The Woodlands, Tyler Arboretum, Tyler Formal Gardens at Bucks County Community College, Welkinweir, Winterthur, and Wyck.

The roster also includes Ambler Arboretum, Arboretum at the Barnes Foundation, Awbury Arboretum, Bartram’s Garden, Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, Brandywine River Museum of Art, Camden Children’s Garden, Chanticleer, Hagley Museum and Library, Haverford College Arboretum, Henry Botanic Garden, Henry Schmieder Arboretum, Hortulus Farm Garden & Nursery, Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens, Longwood Gardens, Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, Mount Cuba Center, Nemours Estate, PHS Meadowbrook Farm, and Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College.

America’s Garden Capital Maze will be open from November 10-February 25 – 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-11 p.m., Fridays and Saturday; 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.

Another attraction is the Center City Parks District’s Rothman Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park along with the Rothman Institute Cabin.

The Rothman Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park is an unparalleled entertainment experience on Philadelphia’s center stage in a wonderfully urban and unique setting. Open seven days a week, the rink offers wintry fun for all ages, with a full slate of programs.

The 2017 Franklin Square Holiday Festival (200 North Sixth Street, Philadelphia, http://www.historicphiladelphia.org/franklin-square/holidays-in-franklin-square/) opens its season On November 9 and then will run until December 31.

The Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show will be open from 4-8 p.m. daily and 4-9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Visitors are invited to experience the magic of the holidays and celebrate traditions new and old at the Franklin Square Holiday Festival.

Inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s electrifying genius, the free Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show presented by PECO is the key to holiday fun in Franklin Square.

Attendees can marvel at more than 50,000 lights as they shimmer, dance, and illuminate the Square to a soundtrack of holiday classics, some of which are performed by The Philly POPS in two alternating shows every 30 minutes. Every evening, one lucky audience member will be selected to “ignite’ the 4:30 p.m. show.

Additionally, visitors can enjoy comfort foods, seasonal snacks, and hot beverages at Ben’s Sweets & Treats and SquareBurger, festive beers and cocktails presented by Cooperage at the Winter Beer Garden, special holiday events on #FranklinSquareFridays, Santa Saturdays, and Seasonal Sounds on Sundays.

If you want to really get in full-scale Christmas mood, visit Koziar’s Christmas Village (782 Christmas Village Road, Bernville, 610-488-1110,www.koziarschristmasvillage.com) which began its 70th season on November 4.

Koziar’s Christmas Village is truly a holiday wonderland — a wintertime spectacle that delights young and old alike with a huge amount of holiday displays and special attractions. It will remain open every night through January 1 — including Christmas Eve, Christmas Night, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Night.

The tours of “Christmas Village” feature visits to a variety of displays and exhibits, including “Santa’s Post Office,” “Christmas in the Jungle,” “Manger Scene,” “Christmas Beneath the Sea,” “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” “Olde Fashioned Bakery Shop,” “Toy Maker and his Toy Shop,” “Christmas in Other Lands” and “The Olde Church”.

Other attractions at Koziar’s Christmas Village include a huge model train display, a toy shop, a country kitchen, indoor and outdoor Christmas displays and a place to visit with Santa and even get pictures taken with the old guy in the red suit. Admission to Christmas Village is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors (65 and older) and $8 for children (ages 4-10).

The American Music Theatre (2425 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, 800-648-4102, www.AMTshows.com) has its holiday show running now through December 30.

The AMT’s 2017 show “Home for the Holidays” is an all-new presentation of favorite sacred and secular holiday songs performed by professional artists from across the country. The show will feature spectacular vocal harmonies, lively musical arrangements, impressive dancing and the music of the AMT Orchestra.

Also featured will be elaborate scenery, elegant costumes and a theater decked out with holiday decorations.

The show will have both matinee and evening performances each week with the addition of 10:30 a.m. performances on Saturdays throughout December. Show length is two hours and 15 minutes with a short intermission. Tickets are $42 for adults and $21 for children.

The Rainbow Comedy Playhouse (3065 Lincoln Highway East, Paradise, 800-292-4301, www.Rainbowcomedy.com) is presenting its holiday production “Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas? now through December 30.

Matinee performances are every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and selected Saturdays with an 11:30 a.m. lunch and a 1 p.m. curtain. Evening performances are every Friday, Saturday and selected Thursdays with dinner at 6

“Christmas Candylane,” which is the annual holiday event at Hersheypark (100 West Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, 800-HERSHEY, www.hersheypark.com), is running now through December 31. Tickets are $24 per person. Children age two and under are admitted free.

Visitors to Hershey can also experience the winter wonderland called “Hershey Sweet Lights, A Holiday Drive-Thru Spectacular.” The attraction is a two-mile drive through wooded trails featuring approximately 600 illuminated, animated displays.

Admission is $26.15 on Fridays and Saturdays and $19.15 the rest of the week.

“A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place” (100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, www.sesameplace.com) is a festive, family-friendly celebration with everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends live and in-person at the amusement park in Langhorne.

The annual event, which runs through December 31, offers a wide array of family holiday activities.

Visitors to the park can sing along at three special Christmas shows and a spectacular music and light show at our giant 1-2-3 Christmas Tree take a train ride tour through the Twiddlebugs’ Gingerbread Cookie Factory on the Sesame Place Furry Express, take part in the Neighborhood Street Party Christmas Parade, and have the opportunity to meet Lightning, the adorable reindeer from the movie “Elmo Saves Christmas.”

As an added attraction this year, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is spending the holiday season at Sesame Place. The lovable reindeer along with his friends Clarice and Bumble, will be available for photos with guests.

Tickets for “A Very Furry Christmas” are $32.

Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park (2249 Route 30 East, Lancaster, 866-386-2389, www.dutchwonderland.com) is hosting its “Dutch Winter Wonderland” from Now through December 30 on Saturdays, Sundays and select weekdays.

Visitors are invited to celebrate the magic of the season at Dutch Winter Wonderland with rides, entertainment, and the Royal Light Show, a spectacular display of thousands of twinkling lights dancing to music.

Tickets are $11.99 in advance and $13.99 at the gate. Children age two and under are admitted free.

Bethlehem, which is known as the “Christmas City,” presents Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem (PNC Plaza at SteelStacks, 645 East First Street, Bethlehem, 610-332-1300,http://www.christmascity.org) every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday now through December 18.

Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem showcases aisles of exquisite handmade works by the nation’s finest artisans. The market also features live performances of Christmas music and vendors with an amazing variety of tasty food items.

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