What To Do: Get a jump on Valentine’s Day with wine & chocolate

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

A February highlight each year is Valentine’s Day and one of the best things about Valentine’s Day is chocolate.

Wine-loving chocoholics are celebrating – all month

The Chaddsford Winery (632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, 610-388-6221, http://www.chaddsford.com) will host Wine & Chocolate Pairings every Saturday and Sunday in February (through February 23) and Valentine’s Day (February 14) from noon-7 p.m.

Visitors can enjoy stops at five stations featuring artisan chocolates carefully paired with the winery’s award-winning wines.

This year, the winery is partnering with Philadelphia-based John and Kira’s to provide guests with an unparalleled experience.

Sessions will be offered throughout the day at noon, 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m.  During the session, Chaddsford Winery staff will lead guests through an educational pairing while providing interesting facts about the featured wines and chocolates. Guests who arrive over 15 minutes late for their session are not guaranteed entry to the program.

Advanced tickets are $30/person, and space is limited.  If a session does not sell out of advanced tickets online prior to the event, then a limited number on onsite tickets will be sold at the door for $35/person.

The “Wine and Chocolate Pairings” at Penns Wood Winery (124 Beaver Valley Road, Chadds Ford, 610-459-0808, http://www.pennswoodsevents.com) will be held every Saturday and Sunday in February from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

In addition to its regular tastings, the winery is offering special tastings to celebrate February because February is the month of wine, chocolate, romance and fun.

Penns Wood is adding new and exciting items to its wine and chocolate pairings this year featuring its wines carefully paired with local chocolate treats from Good Good Chocolates, Double Spiral Chocolate & Taste Artisanal Market .

Tickets cost $28 per person in advance and reservations are required. Cancellations must be made within 48 hours or ticket holders will be charged the full amount of the tasting. Reservations are made and kept on the hour.

Black Walnut Winery (3000 Lincoln Highway, Sadsburyville, 610-857-5566, www.blackwalnutwinery.com)  will have “February Wine and Chocolate Pairings” on February 8.

The special day will feature a pairing of five of Black Walnut’s wines with gourmet chocolates from Bridge Street Chocolates of Phoenixville. Wine and Chocolate pairings will take place at 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m.

The sessions will also be held same dates and same times at the winery’s location in Phoenixville at 260 Bridge Street.

Cost is $25 per person and includes a Black Walnut logo wine glass. Guests can choose to upgrade their pairing to include a Port tasting as well (two port style wines) for $30 per person.

On February 21, Galer Estate Vineyard & Winery (700 Folly Hill Rd., Kennett Square, www.galerestate.com) will host a special “Wine and Chocolate Pairing.”

At the event, which runs from 6-8 p.m., visitors will be able to enjoy three of Galer Estate’s wines paired with local chocolate treats.

Tickets are priced at $35 per person.

A great way for chocoholics to satisfy their chocolate cravings is to take a trip to Hershey during the month of February. This month, it’s time for “Chocolate-Covered February in Hershey” (various locations around Hershey, 800-HERSHEY, www.chocolatecoveredfebruary.com).

It is only natural that Hershey, the town that bills itself as “The Sweetest Place on Earth,” hosts a month-long celebration in honor of all things chocolate. Hershey has decadent chocolate events planned throughout the month of February.


This weekend, visitors to the Hershey Store can try their hand at making their own heart-shaped milk chocolate confections and hand-made truffles. Other activities are a “Chocolate Tea,” a “Chocolate Dinner Extraordinaire” at the Hotel Hershey and a “Chocolate and Spirits Pairing Class & Chef Demonstration” at the Hershey Lodge.

The “Hersheypark Chocolate Parade” will be held at the amusement park every Saturday and Sunday in February beginning at 2:30 p.m. each day. There will also be an “Interactive Story Time & Hot Cocoa” session at 1 p.m. and again at 3 p.m. at Hersheypark every Saturday and Sunday in February.

Other activities throughout the month include “Chef Demonstrations” at the Hotel Hershey, “Hershey’s Chocolate Dessert Buffet” at Hershey’s Chocolate World, “Hershey’s Character Breakfast” at Hershey Lodge, “Chocolate Themed Animal Treats” at ZooAmerica, and “Chocolate Martini Mixology Class” at Hershey Lodge.

One of the most popular art shows each year is Malvern Retreat House’s Art Show (McShain-Horstmann Family Life Center, 315 South Warren Avenue, Malvern, 610-644-0400, www.MalvernRetreat.com).

While many shows are just weekend events, Malvern Retreat House’s 2020 Ninth Annual Art Show is a five-day event from January 29-February 2. The ambitious show will have more than 500 original works of art by more than 100 professional artists. The special focus room theme this year is “Water.”

Participating Chester County artists are Vidya Shyamsundar (Downingtown), Mary Ann Weselak (Unionville), Sandra Severson (Honey Brook), Diane Cannon (West Chester), Wendy McClatchy (Malvern), Maria de los Morales (Paoli), Gary Altoonian (West Chester), Steven Schaefer (West Chester), Fiona Katarina (Phoenixville), Angela Colasanti (Uwchland),

The list of county artists also includes Ginny Morton (Chester Springs), Lisa Lynn (Malvern), Gregory Teter (West Chester), Claire Saponaro (Phoenixville), Scott Foster (Downingtown), Teddi Silver (Landenburg), Robert Siliani (West Chester), Sue Ciccone (West Chester), Eileen Gallagher (Kimberton), Jean Yoder (West Chester), and Luis Morales (West Chester).

Some of this year’s other participants are Katherine Cheetham, Matiko Mamaladze, Cynthia Underhill, Helena Van Emmerik-Finn, Donald Jost, Jack Paolini, Alina Potapenko, Pete Quarracino, Piera Raffaele, Giovanni Arcamone, Gwenn Knapp, Richard Bollinger, Ofrat Gilady-Sten, Bob Antonishak, Virginia Apostolacus, Sandy Askey-Adams, John Baker, George Baldt, Siobhan Bedford, Robyn Burckhardt, Dan Burstein, Terry Bydume, Polly Davis Chalfant, Diane Cirafesi, and Charlotte Clark.

The roster also includes Bette Conway, Wendy Cotton, Thomas Del Porte, Mary Lou Doyle, Deborah Eater, Leslie Ehrin, Herbert Eilertsen, Cary Galbraith, David Gerbstadt, Susan Grabert, Joanne Graham, Barbara Grant, Bob Hakun, Sharon Henderson, William Hobbs, Thomas Hopkinson, Fred Jackson, Al Johnson, Mary Kane, Suzanne Kent, Susan Klinger, Linda Luke, Patricia H Lynch, Constance McBride, Patrick McBride, Ana Delia McCormack, and Barbara Michel.

The line-up also features Terri Morse, Teri Nalbone, Kathryn E. Noska, Ruth Ochia, Joanne Orth, Suzanne Oswald, Timothy Outhous, Charley Parker, Anne Patrizi, Monique Perry, Diane R Drosdal Ponticello, Brianna Protesto, Rebecca Rhodes, Kathy Ruck, Carla Schaeffer, Thomas Schlenker, Francine Renee Schneider, Lynnette Shelly, Mary Rinderle Smith, Laura Spayd, Timothy Stanford, Gina Struebel, David Thompson, Hong-Bich Huynh Vernon, Patricia Walkar, Janice Ward, Elizabeth Wilson, and Katy Winters

Every year when the heart of winter arrives in the Brandywine Valley, Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) celebrates one of the largest families of plants in the world.

Orchids at Longwood

If you did a Google search to find out which are the largest families of flowering plants in the world, this is the answer you’d receive – “The three largest flowering plant families containing the greatest number of species are the sunflower family (Asteraceae) with about 24,000 species, the orchid family (Orchidaceae) with about 20,000 species, and the legume or pea family (Fabaceae) with 18,000 species.”

The orchid is a flower that is acclaimed as one of the most beautiful, delicate and graceful flowers in the world. The Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew list more than 20,000 accepted species with about 800 new species added each year. Additionally, horticulturists have more than 100,000 hybrids and cultivars.

Longwood celebrates the orchid each year with its ultra-popular “Orchid Extravaganza” — an annual event that this year is running now through March 22.

The celebration of the orchid species features thousands of orchid blooms along with a variety of displays and special exhibits throughout its four-acre conservatory. “Orchid Extravaganza” will also feature stunning displays of orchids in planting beds, containers and innovative exhibits.

As one of the first plant collections at Longwood, orchids have held a place of distinction since 1922.

Visitors will be able to escape to a balmy oasis filled with nearly 5,000 blooming orchids during Orchid Extravaganza. Longwood’s heated four-acre Conservatory provides an escape from winter’s chill and features thousands of colorful orchid blooms displayed in extraordinary ways.

In addition to the one-of-a-kind horticultural display, Orchid Extravaganza features activities and programs for the entire family, including concerts, talks, tours, OrKid Days, and more. The Gardens are open daily from 9 am–5 pm.

Guests will be amazed as orchid blooms cascade down walls, spill from containers, and hang from the ceiling– featuring Cattleya, Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum, and Oncidium, among others.

In the Main Conservatory, a canopy of pink and purple Orchid Orbs welcomes you to a lush sanctuary of vibrant, artfully presented orchids.

In the Acacia Passage, delicate cascading branches of cinnamon wattle beckons with fragrant blooms, while 18 urns filled with yellow and white Oncidium and Phalaenopsis line this picturesque passageway.

Additional indoor highlights include the Mediterranean Garden featuring a riot of vibrant color January through April with Australian purple coral-pea (Hardenbergia) vines blooming like miniature wisteria. In the Estate Fruit House, nectarines, melons, and other fruits and vegetables flourish in the midst of winter.

OrKID Days are feature activities where families can discover the colors, patterns, and beauty of orchids through art activities and storytelling. OrKID Days are February 18, and March 9 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and are free with Gardens Admission.

Admission to Longwood Gardens is $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and $13 for students.

Frederick Douglass

February is African American History Month and the National Constitution Center National Constitution Center (525 Arch Street, Independence Mall, Philadelphia, 215-409-6700,www.constitutioncenter.org) is honoring it with a number of special events and attractions that are running now through the end of February.

February 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment, which said the right to vote could not be denied based on race. During the month of February, the National Constitution Center will pay tribute to the achievements and the courageous sacrifices made by African Americans throughout history as they strived to become recognized as an integral part of “We the People.”

The National Constitution Center will honor that milestone all month long with special educational programs and performances in conjunction with the new Civil War and Reconstruction exhibit, including “The Road to Freedom” show, the “Four Harriets” program, and theatrical performances of Frances E. W. Harper: The Great Problem to Be Solved and FOURTEEN.

Visitors can also take a self-guided tour of the museum’s The Story of We the People exhibit to discover key milestones in African American history, and then test their knowledge at the Center’s giant game board activity.

Activities at the Center will feature interactive programming designed for visitors of all ages, including “Decoding the Document: Emancipation Proclamation Document Workshop,”

Visitors can take a closer look at the museum’s rare printing of the Emancipation Proclamation to learn more about its history, the history of the Civil War, and the background of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.

On the “Self-Guided African American History Tour”, visitors can tour the Center’s main exhibition “The Story of We the People” and discover important moments in African American history through historical artifacts.

Some of the featured attractions on the tour are rare, signed copies of the Thirteenth Amendments and Emancipation Proclamation, President Obama inauguration artifacts, The American National Tree (featuring influential African Americans including Paul Robeson, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ward Connerly and Muhammad Ali) and an original printing of the Supreme Court’s controversial Dred Scott decision.

As part of the museum’s interactive daily programming in February, visitors can test their knowledge of African American history at the museum’s “Giant Game Board.” Children and families compete to see who can cross the finish line first.  Participants serve as game pieces as they roll the giant dice, answer questions and work their way across the board.

As an added attraction, the Center is offering a special “Winter Warm Up” on admission. Now through March 31, tickets are only $10 for adults and $7.50 for children.

Groundhog Day is a popular tradition celebrated in Canada and the United States on February 2. It derives from the Pennsylvania Dutchsuperstition that if a groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den and winter will persist for six more weeks, and if it does not see its shadow because of cloudiness, spring will arrive early.

While the tradition remains popular in modern times, studies have found no consistent correlation between a groundhog seeing its shadow or not and the subsequent arrival time of spring-like weather.

The Groundhog Day ceremony held at Punxsutawney in western Pennsylvania, centering around a semi-mythical groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil, has become the most attended. Other cities in the United States and Canada have also adopted the event.

The Delaware Museum of Natural History (4840 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-658-9111, http://www.delmnh.org) is hosting a “Groundhog Day Celebration” on February 2 from 12:30-2:30 p.m.

Visitors to the museum are invited to enjoy the afternoon in celebration of the groundhog. Participants can learn the facts, fiction and folklore about this popular ground-dwelling creature.

The event includes nature walks in the Museum’s backyard in search of its resident groundhog, groundhog science, craft and activity stations, and live animal presentations (including a common relative of the groundhog).

Admission to the museum is $9 (ages 3-59), $8 for seniors (age 60 and older) and $3 for toddlers (ages one and two).

There will also be a “Groundhog Day Festival” on February 1 at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge (8601 Lindbergh Blvd., Philadelphia, https://www.fws.gov/refuge/John_Heinz/).

This free festival features family-friendly activities that include an early morning “Groundhog Hike” at 9 a.m. Live music, refreshments, games, crafts, and activities follow from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., including a super-size groundhog burrow for kids to explore. Throughout the day, three interactive presentations will feature live animals.

Groundhogs have to share their “day” with hedgehogs. February 2 is also Hedgehog Day.

Hedgehogs are covered in spines that are hollow hairs stiffened by keratin. Hedgehogs use their spines as a defense mechanism when under threat by rolling into a tight ball, so all the spikes point outwards.

Hedgehogs rely heavily on their sense of smell. They can smell food under an inch of soil and can often sense the presence of danger. They tend to search for food at night and can travel a distance of 1-2 miles. One very strange fact about hedgehogs is that they self-anoint which seems to be connected with irregular smells or tastes making them create large quantities of frothy saliva which they flick over their spines with their tongue.

Hedgehog Day

Hedgehog Day is a Roman tradition preceding the modern “Groundhog Day.”  It was also the release date for “Sonic The Hedgehog 3” in 1994.

Elmwood Park Zoo (1661 Harding Boulevard, Norristown, www.elmwoodparkzoo.org) will be celebrating National Hedgehog Day with hedgehog meet-and-greets in Trail of the Jaguar.

In observance of all things pokey and cute, the Zoo will have hedgehog themed games and activities. There will also be an appearance from one of the Zoo’s porcupines starting at noon.

For visitors, this is a rare opportunity to see the hedgehogs up close as they are normally behind the scenes at the zoo. The zoo’s hedgehogs are animal ambassadors, which means they are usually only seen in educational programs inside or outside the zoo.

The event, which is running from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on February 2, is free to attend with zoo admission which is $10.95.

In addition to groundhogs and hedgehogs, this weekend also has an event featuring reptiles.

On February 1, the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center (100 Station Road, Oaks, http://www.eastcoastreptilesuperexpos.com/index.html) will host the East Coast Reptile Super Expo featuring hundreds of live snakes and reptiles.

East Coast Reptile Super Expo

Many people think snakes and lizards are interesting creatures and maybe even fun pets to own. If you fall into this category, you should check out the show on Saturday. A wide array of reptiles will be on display as part of the popular exhibition.

One of the show’s main attractions is a sales exhibit area featuring a large number of vendors with live reptiles, amphibians and arachnids as well as food items, supplies, books, cages, and related accessories.

The roster of very diverse vendors includes AZO Reptiles, Rose’s Reptiles, Blake’s Exotic Reptiles, Reptile Kingdom, DHA Pythons, Gecko Haven, Hunger Reptiles, Jungle Emporium, Blackheart Reptiles, Delaware Turtle, Just Lizards and Outback Reptiles.

The list also includes RKZ Rodents. Monstar Reptiles, Turtle to Turtle, Delaware Valley Herpetarium, Newville Dragons, PM Herps, Jay Jacoby Serpent Propagation, Black Jungle Terrarium Supply, VSCV Ventures LLC, Dachiu Dragons, Tom Rogan Reptiles, Native Exotics.

Other featured vendors will be Heath’s Frog Farm, Corralus Creations, Rogue Reptiles LLC, Jason R Bartolett Captive Bred Reptiles, Fowler Reptiles, Dragon Fortress, Turtle Towns, Garden State Tortoise LLC, Reptile Addicts, MCO Reptiles. A.M. Snakes, Charm City Glam Charms, Dragontown Reptiles and J&R Constrictors.

The East Coast Reptile Super Expo, which is always a well-attended event, will run from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. this Saturday. Tickets are $10 with children (under five) admitted free.

There is a great event this weekend that will get kids to use their brains rather than their electronic devices — Hagley Museum’s “STEMtastic Weekend.”

Visitors to the Hagley Museum (200 Hagley Creek Road, Wilmington, Delaware, www.hagley.org), a 230-acre historical village on the site of the original du Pont Company gunpowder mills in northern Delaware, will be able to learn about a science in a fun way.

During Hagley’s STEMtastic Weekends, young inventors and tinkerers will take over the Visitor Center second floor gallery where they can investigate the inner workings of a variety of electronic gadgets, express their ingenuity by creating an invention and earning a “Hagley patent,” enjoy robotics demonstrations by local robotics teams, and participate in hands-on activities that explore the many aspects of coding and robotics.

On February 1, participants can code a robot to complete a maze or perform a task using block coding. On February 2, the Imagineers K-4th grade team and the Mind MONCS 4-8th grade team present their designs and will perform skits that accompany their design challenge.

On both days, S2 STEM will feature drone activities where participants can fly a drone indoors. If you’re involved in the activity, not only can you fly it, you can CODE it to fly a mission for you.

“STEMtastic Weekends” events are scheduled for February 1 and 2. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for children (6-14) and free for children (under six).

Wonderspaces, an experiential, interactive arts venue, is celebrating its largest location to date this month in Philadelphia at the Fashion District (27 North 11th Street, Philadelphia,philadelphia.wonderspaces.com/).

Building on the success of annual pop-up shows in San Diego, and its first permanent location in Scottsdale, Arizona, Wonderspaces features a 24,000 square foot gallery space.


Wonderspaces presents 14 art installations that all play with the idea of perspective.  The artwork ranges from award-winning virtual reality short film about a dinner party-turned-alien abduction, to a room where visitors digitally paint the walls with the movement of their bodies.
The first line-up of artwork at Wonderspaces includes: Submergence by Squidsoup, Blooms by John Edmark, Sun by Phillip Schutte, Transition by Mike von Rotz and Joost Jordens,  Black Balloons by Tadao Cern, Body Paint by Memo Akten, Come Together by Michael Murphy,  The Last Word by Illegal Art, Stories of Mechanical Music by Myriam Bleau, and Myrkviðr by Yasuhiro Chida.

Tickets for Wonderspaces are $24. An average tour of a Wonderspaces show lasts 80-90 minutes but visitors are welcome to stay as long as they want. Tickets are tied to a specific date and time. The number of visitors allowed to enter every fifteen minutes is limited to ensure the space never becomes too crowded.

For the past few months, people have been able to get in a happy mood by visiting HAPPY PLACE (www.HappyPlace.me).

Live Nation Philadelphia brought HAPPY PLACE, an interactive, immersive pop-up exhibit with larger-than-life installations and multi-sensory themed rooms, to the King of Prussia Mall where it was slated to be open until just after Christmas holiday.

Originally scheduled to run through January 5, HAPPY PLACE has been extended until February 29 and will be operating on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays only.

HAPPY PLACE is filled with multi-sensory immersive rooms inducing smiles and laughter, plus larger-than-life, one-of-a-kind installations including seven-foot stilettos made of a million candies and six-foot tall mirrored X and O letters surrounded by a wall of one thousand red lips. It features more than 15,000 square feet of playful spaces and cheerful moments.

HAPPY PLACE is created for an audience for all ages. Minors under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Tickets start at $30 for adults and $20 for children (ages 4-12).

Happy or grim – it’s your choice this weekend.

“Grim Philly’s Nightmare Before Christmas Tavern Tour” (856-829-3100, http://www.grimphilly.com) will be held for the last time this season on January 31.

Participants will have the opportunity to toast with the ghosts of Christmas past while drinking in the yuletide spirits of grog and nog on this entertaining fact-filled tour.

The evening’s activities include trivia and drinking games for chances to win free beer, drink and/or food samples for all at each stop and a variety of drink specials.

Participants can relax in warmth enjoying authentic handmade Christmas beverages, snacks and prizes (included) as they learn a full range of the surprising histories of Yule and Viking lore and Saturnalia — all which have worked their way in to our modern Christian celebrations including ideas of magick, gift giving…and origins in even infanticide and human sacrifice.

Guests will be able to revel in little known facts of our holiday past including the season’s pagan roots in Roman, Celtic and German traditions, while learning of medieval, and New World additions in mumming and mistletoe.

The tour price of $45 includes guided historic tour of “Grim” Philly, tavern admissions and two “Christmas Drinks.” The tours, which start at 6:30 p.m. on Fridays and 5 p.m., on Saturdays, will depart from 599 Market Street, Philadelphia.

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