What To Do: ‘Mum’ is the word at Longwood

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By Denny DyroffStaff Writer, The Times 

chrysanthemum_festival_This is the time of year when nature’s colors go through a shift. The bright colors of summer’s flowers are beginning to disappear and are being replaced by the autumnal colors of changing leaves. The only plants that really hang on and continue to have flowers are hardy pansies, which can bloom all winter long, and chrysanthemums, which are primarily autumn flowers.

Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) celebrates the popular autumnal flower with its annual Chrysanthemum Festival every year in October and November.

The 35th Annual Chrysanthemum Festival, which opens on October 22 and runs through November 20, is a top-flight exhibit featuring more than 20,000 colorful, blooming chrysanthemums in Longwood’s huge conservatory.

Longwood’s horticulturalists have grown and developed the mums into a variety of unusual forms. They have groomed chrysanthemums to resemble clouds, torches, spirals, fans, 13-foot arches and more. The stars of the show are Longwood Gardens’ “Thousand Bloom” mums.

The Thousand Bloom (known in Japan as Ozukuri) is the most exacting and difficult of all the Chrysanthemum training styles. It derives its name for the ambitious goal of a single chrysanthemum plant producing 1,000 perfect blooms.

The method for growing the Thousand Bloom originated in China and Japan more than 200 years ago. It is a dying art form with only a few growers in the entire world skilled in the techniques needed to grow this special plant.

This year, Longwood has the largest chrysanthemum outside of Asia on display. Grown at Longwood, the plant is expected to produce over 1,500 perfectly placed, uniform blooms on one plant.

Video link for Chrysanthemum Festival — https://youtu.be/sWTA32DdDlU?list=UUHMP1vVm6vrp4PVDb7fZ_Jw&t=6.

Time is running out if you’re interested in seeing “Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience” at Longwood Gardens. The event, which has been running since August, will close on October 29.

When “Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience” made its debut last year, it provided visitors with the opportunity to enjoy visually-impressive sights at Longwood after the sun goes down. The installation brought the garden to life after dark with colorful lights and moving images choreographed to music.

This year, “Nightscape” will take place in various areas of the garden — Rose Arbor, Large Lake, Flower Garden Drive, Legacy Tree, Flower Garden Walk, Topiary Garden, East Conservatory and Silver Garden. The installation will be on view Wednesdays through Saturdays, and will open every day at sunset.

Tickets, which include all-day admission, are $27 adults (ages 19 and older) and $17 students (ages 5-18). Regular admission to Longwood Gardens is $20 for adults, $17 for seniors (62+) and $10 for students (ages 5-18).

The Great Pumpkin Carve

The Great Pumpkin Carve

Every year, there are numerous opportunities to attend events featuring the work of artists who specialize in carving — most notably woodcarving. But, there are also carvers who work in other media such as ice, fruit, ivory, and soap. There also is a group of specialist carvers who display their skills every October at the Chadds Ford Historical Society (Route 100, Chadds Ford, 610-388-7376, www.chaddsfordhistory.org). These artists prefer to use giant squash as their medium.

Each year at the end of October, the Chadds Ford Historical Society presents its annual Great Pumpkin Carve. The event brings together approximately 70 carvers who sculpt, saw and chisel giant pumpkins to the delight of the gathered onlookers.

The three-day event, which has been a Brandywine Valley tradition for more than 40 years, is held in the meadow behind the Chadds Ford Historical Society from October 20-22. In recent years, the popular event has attracted more than 15,000 visitors annually.

Co-sponsored by the Chadds Ford Historical Society and the Rotary Club of Concordville-Chadds Ford, the Great Pumpkin Carve is a treasured Chadds Ford tradition that began in the early 1970’s when Jimmy Lynch convinced the renowned artists Andrew and Jamie Wyeth to carve pumpkins for decorating the inside of the Chadds Ford Inn (now the Brandywine Prime Restaurant in Chadds Ford). 

On October 20, carvers gathered in the evening in the field behind the barn to create masterpieces by carving huge pumpkins which can weigh between 150 and 400 pounds.

After dark, the pumpkins will be lit and prizes will be awarded. On October 21 and 22, the carved pumpkins will be displayed all evening. Live entertainment, hayrides and hot food will also be featured all three nights. Admission is $10 for adults (18 and older) and $5 for youth (ages 7-17).

The Brandywine Ballet will present “Colour Brillanté” at West Chester University.

The Brandywine Ballet will present “Colour Brillanté” at West Chester University.

From October 21-23, the Brandywine Ballet will present three performances of “Colour Brillanté” at West Chester University’s Emilie K. Asplundh Hall (700 South High Street, West Chester, 610-696-2711, www.brandywineballet.org).

A powerhouse of large ensemble work, Romanesque sets, and vivid attire, Nancy Page’s “Colour Brillanté” is a celebration of the many changing colors of fall. In addition to its impressive cast size, “Colour Brillanté” is also an opportunity to see Brandywine Ballet principal dancers in breathtaking solos and pas de deux. Brandywine Ballet is also thrilled to present a second work of Ms. Page’s this October, titled” Never Ending Road.” This contemporary ballet is set to the music of Canadian-born Celtic singer-songwriter Loreena McKennitt.

Page was a Brandywine Ballet student prior to her professional career with such companies as the Sarasota Ballet, the Pittsburgh Ballet and the Tampa/Colorado Ballet. Rainey recently retired as a dancer after a long career with the Pennsylvania Ballet.

Shows are scheduled for October 21 at 10 a.m., October 22 at 7 p.m. and October 23 at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $25-$40.

sugartown-at-sundown_v2On October 21 and 22, visitors to Sugartown (690 Sugartown Road, Malvern, http://historicsugartown.org/events) will have the opportunity to see Sugartown in a whole new light.

Guides will lead visitors through the village by lantern and offer chilling tales about the village. The lantern tours will take place at 6, 6:30, 7, 7:30, 8 and 8:30, and will last approximately one hour.

At the conclusion of the tour, guests can enjoy hot apple tea punch and treats from Simpson House Tea Room in the Carriage Museum

Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children 6-10. The event is not recommended for children under age 6.

Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation

Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation

On October 23 and 24, the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation (Ridley Creek State Park, Media, 610-566-1725, www.colonialplantation.org) is presenting “Farm, House and Animal Tours.”

Since 1974 the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation has given visitors a glimpse of 18th- century Pennsylvania farm life through group programming, weekend activities and outreach opportunities. Attention to detail and authenticity are the hallmarks of Plantation programs from formal tours and hands-on workshops to the “living history” approach seen by weekend visitors. Visiting the Plantation is an educational experience that is unique and unforgettable.

Because the Plantation is a working farm with authentically restored unheated buildings, it is open from April into early December. No pets are allowed. an evening of “Lantern Ghost Tours.”

Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for children (ages 4-12). Hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

plein-air-brandywine-valleyPlein Air Brandywine Valley (www.pleinairbrandywinevalley.org) is a painting and photography competition, show and sale featuring the beauty of the Brandywine Valley interpreted by a number of highly-acclaimed artists. It is free and open to the public.

From October 17-20, artists painted and photographed the most scenic properties of the Brandywine Valley including private estates, land preserves, and renowned du Pont properties.

All works entered into the competition will be judged and then displayed for viewing and purchase at an opening gala scheduled for October 21 from 7-10 p.m. at the Visitor Center of Winterthur Museum and Garden (Route 52, Wilmington, Delaware).

The works will remain on display for purchase and viewing on October 22 and 23 — from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday and noon-3 p.m. on Sunday. A portion of the proceeds from the art sales will benefit Children’s Beach House.

On October 22 and 23, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University (1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, 215-299-1000, www.ansp.org) is celebrating oceans and things found in the world’s oceans with its Fifth Annual Philadelphia Shell Show.

Billed as “The largest show of its kind in the Northeast,” the event features competitive displays by collectors and amateur scientists. It also provides visitors with the opportunity to participate in mollusk dissections, make crafts, shop an international shell market, and go behind the scenes to see some of the 10 million specimens in the Academy’s Malacology Collection (which is the third largest in the world).

The show will be held from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. each day. Admission is $17.95 for adults (age 13 and older) and $13.95 for children (ages 3-12).

From October 21-23, The Philadelphia Taste Festival of Food, Wine and Spirits will be held at the Valley Forge Casino (1160 First Avenue, Upper Merion, http://philly.gourmetshows.com).

The taste bud-friendly event, which is presented by Gourmet Shows, will run from 6-10 p.m. on October 21, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-8 p.m. on October 22 and noon-4 p.m. on October 23.

This year’s Festival showcases the finest in wine, spirits and gourmet foods, along with the talents of local and celebrity chefs. The three-day event will feature the many award-winning wineries from around the world, including three days of celebrity chef demonstrations, wine tastings, food from the best restaurants in the region at our Zagat Restaurant Row, and food centric exhibits.

Highlights include appearances by Kevin O’Leary from “Shark Tank” and Ayesha Curry.

Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children 6-10.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan then you need to head to Chestnut Hill this weekend. On October 21 and 22, Chestnut Hill will be the site of the Sixth Annual Harry Potter Festival and Quidditch Tournament. The free fan fest stretches a full 10 blocks along Germantown Avenue.

There will be a wide array of Harry Potter-related activities including a round-robin Brotherly Love Cup Quidditch Tournament, Hogwarts train, Hedwig’s Hollow Selfie Park, Horcrux activity stations, a “Sorting Hat Demonstration” led by Dumbledore, rides on the Knight Bus, an “academy of wizardry and witchcraft” at the Jenks Playground, Thestral Rides, a Muggles read-a-thon featuring live readings of “Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets,” ice sculpting and pop-up Harry Potter Festival art gallery.

For more information, visit https://chestnuthillpa.com/events/harry-potter-festival-2016.

The Strasburg Railroad (Route 741, Strasburg, 717-687-7522, www.strasburgrailroad.com) is presenting a special event on October 22 — “The Great Train Robbery.”

Billed as “A Bonnie & Clyde Adventure,” the event allows guests to travel back in time to 1934 for an adventurous 45-minute ride on the rails through scenic Amish Country.  An A-list celebrity is planning to travel in style at the railroad complete with high fashion, sparkling jewels and bountiful riches.  However, there have been alleged sightings of dynamic duo, Bonnie and Clyde, whose exploits have captured the attention of the American public.

This interactive ride will rob you poor. But, all real money “donated” to the train’s robbers will go to the Clinic for Special Children.

Boarding time for the train is 3:45 p.m. and departure is set to take place at 4 p.m. First Class Lounge Car and First Class Parlour Car tickets are $27. Dining Car tickets are $20 for adults and $13.50 for children (ages 3-11). Coach Car tickets are $18 for adults and $11.50 for children.

The festive El Dia de los Muertos is just over one week away and that means the spirits are starting to come alive. They know that their favorite holidays — Halloween and All Saints’ Day (also known as All Hallows Day) — are coming soon.

El Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) is a Mexican celebration on November 1 — a day when families celebrate and remember their departed love ones. It is thought that the spirits of the dead visit their families on October 31 and then hang around to party for a while before departing on November 2.

In America, the main event is Halloween, which is held each year on October 31. The holiday that features trick-or-treating and other ghostly fun events takes its name from All Hallows Evening (Hallow e’en).

All around the area, Halloween activities have been filling entertainment calendars for a few weeks already. There is a wide array of special sites, holiday activities and scary events to satisfy almost any taste. The following is a look at many of these events.

“Candlelight Ghost Tours” (Fort Mifflin, Fort Mifflin and Hog Island roads, Philadelphia, 215-685-4167, http://fortmifflin.us) are scheduled for October 21 and 28. Visitors can tour historic (and haunted) Fort Mifflin by candlelight from 7-10 p.m. each night and hear tales both historic and haunting on a candlelight tour of National Historic Landmark Fort Mifflin.

Widely regarded as one of the most haunted sites in the country, Fort Mifflin shares true stories of paranormal activity experienced by decades of visitors and staff — no decorations, no blood…. just real ghosts. This event is billed as an “authentic experience.”

Tours are generally appropriate for ages 8-and-older. Tours last about an hour and depart from the Hospital Building (adjacent to the Parking Lot) every 15-20 minutes beginning at 7 p.m. The last tour departs at 10 p.m. Admission is $20 for adults and $15 for students (12 and under).

“Boo at the Zoo” (Brandywine Zoo, 1001 N. Park Drive, Wilmington, 302-571-7747, www.brandywinezoo.org) will be held on October 21 and 22 from 5-7 p.m. each night. The popular annual non-scary family event features games, animal enrichment programs, live critters and trick-or-treating. Children (and their grown-ups) are encouraged to wear costumes. Tickets are $5.

On October 21, Rock Ford Plantation (881 Rockford Rd., Lancaster, 717-392-7223, www.rockfordplantation.org) will present “Sleepy Hollow: The Legend Comes to Rock Ford.”

During this original 45-minute immersive play, guests will follow Ichabod Crane, Brom Bones, Katrina Van Tassel and Squire Van Tassel from room to room on the first floor of the candlelit Rock Ford mansion which will be transformed into the Van Tassel family home, scene of the autumn ball in Washington Irving’s classic tale, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

Performances are scheduled for 7, 8 and 9 p.m. Admission is $15 per person (recommended for children ages 12 and older).

Penns Woods Winery (124 Beaver Valley Road, Chadds Ford, 610-459-0808, www.pennswoodswinery.com) is presenting a special event this year called “Painting in Pumpkinland.” It will be held October 22, 23, 29 and 30 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. each day.

Participants will be able to choose their pumpkins from the Penns Woods Pumpkin Patch and decorate them — Paint them, sticker them, glitter them and more. The cost is $15 -18 per pumpkin (depending on size). Price includes pumpkin and all decorating materials.

Wine by the glass and bottle will be available for all adults over 21 and there will be live music and food trucks. Visitors can take family photos in the winery’s pumpkin patch with our historic barn in the background. There will also be other fun Halloween activities for children.

Music will be performed by Matt Spitko on October 22, Pete Marziano on October 23, Sean McGraw on October 29 and Jason Ager on October 30.

The 26th annual edition of “Haunted Hayride, Bates Motel and Haunted Corn Maze at Arasapha Farm” (1835 N. Middletown Rd., Gradyville, 610-459-0647, www.thebatesmotel.com) will be scaring visitors through October 31.

The haunted hayride through the woods features monsters, special effects and actors. The Bates Motel has haunted rooms with special effects and computerized lighting. A haunted trail is cut through a cornfield inhabited by monsters.

Admission prices are: Haunted Hayride, $20; Bates Motel, $15; Haunted Corn Maze, $15; combination tickets, $40. There are reduced rates for children.

“Hurricane Hill Farm Maze” (Baldwin’s Farm, 704 East Reeceville Road, Coatesville, 610-384-6952, www.hhfmaze.com) will be open Saturdays and Sundays until November 6.

This event features miles of trails through a five-acre corn maze along with a corn slide, hayrides, a pumpkin patch and a farm animal display. Tickets are $13.

Corn mazes, hayrides, a pumpkin patch and scarecrows will be featured at Ramsey’s Farm (500 Ramset Road, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-477-1499, http://www.ramseysfarm.com) on weekends now through October 30.

The theme for the Corn Maze at Ramsey’s Farm this year is a trip around the world with sections for North America, Europe, South America, Africa, Australia and Asia. Tickets are $7 for the corn maze, $4 for the sorghum maze, $3 for the hay maze, $2 for pumpkin painting and $3 for a hayride.

Another popular corn maze in the area is running now through November 5 at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm (150 Cherry Hill Road, Ronks, 717-687-6843, www.cherrycrestfarm.com).

The main attraction is Cherry Crest’s “Amazing Maize Maze.” Billed as “the world’s most dynamic and interactive corn maze,” it is a five-acre corn maze with over two-and-one-half miles of paths, scenic bridges, and clues. There will also be a “Flashlight Maze” every Friday and Saturday night. Tickets are $17 on Thursday and Fridays and $20 on Saturdays.

October 22 is the final night to check out “Ghosts in the Graveyard” (Old Swedes Historical Site, 606 Church Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-652-5629, www.oldswedes.org). From 6:30-9 p.m. each night, visitors will be able to stroll through the complex, meet some of the ghosts who reside in the site’s burial grounds and maybe even solve the mystery of the late night bell ringing at Old Swedes Church. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students (ages 12-17).

Pennhurst Asylum (100 Commonwealth Drive, Spring City, 484-866-8964, www.pennhurstasylum.com), which is open through October 30, is on the site of a former mental asylum which has been shuttered for over a quarter of a century.

It has been transformed into a haunted attraction with huge sets, detailed rooms and live actors. Visitors can also explore the labyrinth of underground tunnels.

Tickets are $16 for “Pennhurst Asylum”, “Dungeon of Lost Souls” or “Tunnel Terror,” $21 for “Ghost Hunt” and $47 for a four-event combo.

“Terror Behind the Walls” (Eastern State Penitentiary, 2124 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, 888-763-NITE, www.easternstate.org), which continues through November 5, takes place at a site Penitentiary that was once was an active prison and is now a National Historic Landmark.

It is a scream-inducing event featuring laser and special-effect lighting, digital sound, sinister scents, animatronic creatures and 3-D illusions. Admission prices, which vary with the date, range from $19-$45.

Ghost Tour of Philadelphia (215-413-1997, www.ghosttour.com), Ghost Tour of Lancaster (717-687-6687, www.ghosttour.com) and Ghost Tour of Strasburg (717-687-6687, www.ghosttour.com) operate through November and offer an eerily entertaining evening of true ghost stories and real haunted houses.

Tickets are $17 for adults for Philadelphia and $15 for Lancaster and Strasburg and $10 for children at all locations.

“Halloween Haunt at Dorney Park” (3830 Dorney Park Road, Allentown, 610-395-3724, www.dorneypark.com) is running now through October 30.

The event features scary creatures roaming the park and scarecrows lining line the walkways while frightening activities take place at the following attractions — “Fright Lane Including Skeleton Key,” “Chamber of Horrors” and “CarnEvil” along with seven mazes and four “Creepy Scare Zones.” Admission is $38.

The “25th Annual Fright Fest” (Six Flags Great Adventure, Route 537, Jackson, NJ, 732-928-2000, www.sixflags.com), which is running now through October 30, features family-oriented activities during the day and much scarier attractions after dark for teens and adults.

The “mature” attractions include “Asylum,” “Blood Shed,” “Voodoo Island,” “Total Darkness,” “Wasteland,” “Circus Psycho,” “Bone Butcher Terror-tory,” “The Manor,” “The Bloody Fountain” and “Skyscreamer of Doom.” Tickets start at $52.99.

For “Count’s Halloween Spooktacular at Sesame Place” (100 Sesame Place, Langhorne, 215-752-7070, www.sesameplace.com), the popular amusement park has been converted into a Halloween-themed safe venue for kids with trick or treating, pumpkin decorating, hayrides and a hay maze.

Featured attractions, which will continue until October 30, are “Abby Cadabby’s Magical Halloween Maze,” “Rubber Duckie Costume Party,” and “The Not-So-Spooky Hayride.” Admission to the park is $45.

“Valley of Fear” (300 W. Bristol Road, Feasterville, 215-942-9787, www.valleyoffear.com), which is open through October 30, features four “heart pounding attractions” — “Haunted Hayride,” “UnderWorld,” “The Facility,” and “Operation Z Paintball.”  Admission prices start at $19.

“Field of Screams” (Stone Battery Road, Lancaster, 717-285-7748, www.fieldofscreams.com), which is open now through November 12, features “Den of Darkness” (three-story horror house), “Frightmare Asylum” (walk-through haunted barn), “Extreme Blackout,” “Nocturnal Wasteland” and the “Haunted Hayride” (a 25-minute fright-filled ride featuring state-of-the-art special effects, pyrotechnics and animatronics). Admission is $36.

The “31st Annual Jason’s Woods” (99 Stehman Road, Lancaster, 717-872-5768, www.jasonswoods.com), which is running through November 5, is a horror show complex that features a combination of live actors, impressive animation and scary special effects.

Popular attractions include “Horrifying Hayride,” “Chamber of Horrors,” “Zombie Apocalypse,” “Lost in Jason’s Woods,” “Carnival of Fear,” “Fields of Fright” and the “The Grand Jason’s Woods Theater.” Admission prices are for combo tickets are $25 for three attractions and $40 for five.

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