What To Do: Longwood Concerts, Philly’s 4th and more!

The holiday weekend starts early — a week early, as family-friendly events abound

By Denny Dyroff, Correspondent, The Times

WPO-Vintage

The West Philadelphia Orchestra brings its unique blend of musical styles to Longwood Gardens tonight, kicking off a series of Summer Soirees — an outdoor performance series.

Some things are sure bets — things that you can rely upon — things that will never let you down. A visit to Longwood Gardens is one of those things.

Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) always has a full slate of attractive events scheduled for weekends during the summer and this weekend is no exception.

Summer Soirées is a series of musical events being held to celebrate the Open Air Theatre’s 100th year — three special summer nights with performances in the Open Air Theatre as well as throughout the Gardens.

The first is scheduled for June 27 from 6-10 p.m. The West Philadelphia Orchestra, which is a Balkan Brass ensemble, will perform at 6, 7 and 8:15 p.m. in the East Conservatory Plaza.

At 6:15 p.m. and again at 7:15 p.m., the Open Air Theatre will present performances by the Blawenburg Band, a highly-acclaimed Sousa band.Ensemble Novo will play its brand of Samba music at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. in the Main Fountain Garden. Katari will perform traditional music from the Andes at 6:45 and 7:45 p.m. in the Italian Water Garden.

There will also be “Open Air Theatre Fountain Shows” from 8:45-10 p.m. as well as the Main Fountain Garden’s “Illuminated Fountain Show — Founder’s Favorites” at 9:15 p.m.

On June 28 at 7 p.m., Longwood will present an installment in the “Recess Monkey Summer Series.” Recess Monkey is a nationally-recognized trio of teachers who rock out with the sounds of the band’s music for kids and families. The band recently released its ninth album “Deep Sea Diver.”

The “Carillon Concerts Summer Series” continues on June 29 with live music performed on the Longwood Carillon, an instrument that was specially made in The Netherlands and features 62 cast bells.

The roster of musicians slated to perform on the carillon includes Steven Ball (June 29),

Tim Sleep (July 13), Jim Fackenthal (July 27), August 3, Ray McLellan (August 3), John Widmann (August 10), Janet Tebbel (September 14) and Doug Gefvert (September 21).

Entrance to all the above events is included with Gardens Admission, which is $18 for adults (18 and over), $15 for seniors (62 and older), $8 for students (ages 5-18) and free for children (age 4 and under)

If you have young children, there is an event in June 29 at Tyler Arboretum (515 Painter Road, Media, 610-566-9134, www.tylerarboretum.org) that is sure to tickle their fancy. From 10 a.m.-2 p.m., the scenic nature site is hosting a “Fairy Festival.”

“Fairy Festival,” which will be held rain or shine, is billed as a “celebration of all that is magical in nature.” Visitors will be able to learn about nature (flowers, forests and water), create their own fairy or prince crown, mix a magic potion and make a mushroom for Tyler’s “Fairy Ring.”

Live entertainment will feature four interactive performances by Celtic musician Mary Roth, a miniature fairy garden terrarium demonstration by Terrain Garden Center and a “Fairy and Wizard Frolic” through the Arboretum. Gourmet pizza will be available for purchase from the Pizza Wagon.

Ask people from Massachusetts where the birthplace of the nation is and they’ll tell you Boston. Ask someone from this area and they’ll say it’s Philadelphia. So, it’s kind of ironic that the state abbreviations associated with the cities are PA and MA.

Boston has a bang-up Independence Day celebration but residents of this area know that Philly throws the better party to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Philly4th

The skies above Philadelphia will light up again, and music will fill the streets as part of Wawa Welcome America Festival billed as “America’s Biggest Birthday Party” which kicks off June 28.

When the mid-summer holiday arrives, Philadelphia hosts a big multi-day party for our country — especially with a huge number of special events presented as part of the “Wawa Welcome America Festival.”

The event, which is billed as “America’s Biggest Birthday Party,” runs from June 28 through July 6 at a number of different locations in Philadelphia with fireworks, concerts, parades, outdoor film screenings, historic reenactments, an international award and a variety of activities that focus on kids.

Action gets underway on June 28 with the “Liberty Block Party” from noon-10 p.m. at the Shops at Liberty Place and continues on June 29 with “Mural Arts Paint Day” from noon-4 p.m. in Mantua.

The main activities on June 30 are “Philly @ the Movies” and “Go 4th and Learn.” The movie “Frozen” will be screened at 9 p.m. at Franklin Square. Other “Philly @ the Movies” shows are scheduled for July 1 at 9 p.m. at Rittenhouse Square and July 2 at 9 p.m. at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

“Go 4th and Learn” will be presented daily from June 30-July 2. The first day’s events will start at 10 a.m. at the Academy on Natural Sciences. On July 1, the scene will shift to Smith Memorial Playground and the series will wrap up on July 2 at the National Constitution Center. Other activities on July 1 will be the Philadelphia Orchestra’s “Neighborhood Concert” at 8 p.m. at Penn’s Landing.

“Wawa Hoagie Day” is scheduled for July 2 from noon-2 p.m. at Independence Mall. Wawa will serve a 4.5-ton “hoagie salute” to visitors attending the 22nd annual Wawa Hoagie Day. There will also be a concert by the US Army Fife & Drum Corps.

On July 3, Independence Hall will host “POPS on Independence.” The free concert, which has an 8 p.m. starting time, features Peter Nero and the Philly Pops! The limited seating is first-come, first-served so attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs.

The first event on the Fourth of July will be the “Celebration of Freedom Ceremony,” which will run from 10-11 a.m. on the steps of Independence Hall. At 12:30 a.m., it will be time for the “Philadelphia Independence Day Parade.” The parade features more than 5,000 patriotic and multicultural marchers, musicians, dancers and floats. All five U.S. military branches will be represented.

Independence Square and the surrounding neighborhoods will host “Let Freedom Ring” from 1-2 p.m. The ceremony starts on Independence Square and concludes with the symbolic Liberty Bell tapping.

The “Party on the Parkway” will take place on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from noon-7 p.m. with seven blocks of educational activities, games, entertainment and food vendors.

The Parkway will then be the site of “Philly Fourth of July Jam and Fireworks.” This event runs from 7-11 p.m. and features live music by The Roots, Ed Sheeran, Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Hudson, Aloe Blacc and Ariana Grande.

The “Super Scooper All-You-Can-Eat Ice cream Festival” will be held on July 5 and 6 at Penn’s Landing. A $7 donation is required to enter. For more information on the “Wawa Welcome America Festival” call (215) 683-2200 or www.welcomeamerica.com.

The Old Fashioned Ice Cream Festival at Rockwood Park (4651 Washington Street Extension, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-690-5555,

www.rockwoodicecream.com) is one of northern Delaware’s oldest — and most popular — summertime outdoor events.

The festival, which costs $5 for adults and $1 for children under 12, will be held at historic Rockwood Park on June 28 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and June 29 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

This weekend’s event will feature cool taste treats produced by eight regional ice-cream vendors and restaurants — Sweet Lucy’s, UD Creamery, Tocumbo, Kilby Cream, Vanderwende’s, Caffee Gelato, Hy-Point Farms and the Ice Cream Shoppe.

The festival features a wide array of food and snack vendors along with a craft beer garden and wine bar.

There will be a number of special family-oriented activities including Brandywine Traveling Zoo, Juggling Hoffman’s, Annie’s Menagerie, Mad Science and Jungle John.

Mad Science. Additionally, continuous live music will be presented both days.

From June 27 through July 5, the Kalmar Nyckel is returning to its home in Wilmington for a series of public sails departing from Dravo Plaza (Shipyard Shops area of the Riverfront, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-429-7447, www.kalmarnyckel.org).

The Kalmar Nyckel, which is Delaware’s only tall ship, is a recreation of a boat that brought Scandanavian settlers to America in the 1600s.

The Kalmar Nyckel will have 11 sailings during its current stay. The 1.5-hours sails depart on June 27 at 5 p.m.; June 28 and 29 at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.; July 3 at noon and 3 p.m.;  July 4 at 10 a.m., 3 and 6 p.m. and July 5 at 9:30 a.m. Tickets are $35 for adults and $20 for youth (age 17 and under).

A trip on the Kalmar Nyckel is a totally different from most tourist water rides. The ship is a beautiful recreation of the original Kalmar Nyckel, which was built in Holland in the 1620s. Her mainmast is taller than a 10-story building and she carries 7,600 square feet of sail area and six miles of rigging.

When the Kalmar Nyckel departs the dock in Wilmington, she uses her motors to travel down the Christina River, under a few drawbridges and into the basin near the Delaware River. If conditions permit, the ship’s sails are put in place and arranged according to the wind and her engines are shut down.

The original Kalmar Nyckel was a Swedish-owned, three-masted armed pinnace that sailed from Goteborg, Sweden in November of 1637 and brought the first permanent European settlers to the Delaware Valley.

Carrying 24 settlers from four countries (Sweden, Finland, Holland, and Germany), she landed on the banks of the Christina River. The site, which became known as “The Rocks”, can be visited at Fort Christina Park off Wilmington’s East Seventh Street.

The new Kalmar Nyckel was constructed there and was launched on September 28, 1997. She was commissioned on May 9, 1998 and now serves as Delaware’s sea-going Ambassador of Good Will. She is a fully functional sail training vessel and has represented Delaware all over the country.

FamilyFun

United Sports in Downingtown and Brandywine Hospital present Family Fun Summer Series & Movie Nights, starting tonight, June 27, with fun games and activities and a movie after dark.

United Sports (1426 Marshallton Thorndale Road, Downingtown, 610-466-7100, http://unitedsports.net) is once again presenting its annual “Family Fun Summer Series & Movie Nights” on three Friday evenings this summer. The events are scheduled for June 27, July 25 and August 22 from 6-10 p.m. each night.

The popular festival, which offers fun events for the entire family, features moonbounces, waterslides, sports games and family activities. Then, when dusk arrives, there will be a screening of a movie that was chosen by United Sports’ followers on Facebook.

The free events are made possible by a partnership of sponsors that includes United Sports Tae Kown Do and Gymnastics, Dance & Fitness, Parisi Speed School and Kinetic Physical Therapy.

The Schuylkill Canal Association’s Canal Day has become an area tradition — an event that is always staged on the last Sunday in June. Mont Clare, which is located just across the Schuylkill River from Phoenixville, will be hosting its 32nd Annual Canal Day on June 29.

Canal Day will run from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at Lock 60 and in St. Michael’s Park (Mont Clare, 610-917-0021, http://www.schuylkillcanal.org). The one-day festival, which requests a $5 donation as admission fee, will also feature the 27th Annual Schuylkill River Trail Run and the 16th Annual Canal Joust.

All the traditional events will be happening again this year.

In addition to the trail run and the joust, the festival will have a “Canoe & Kayak Race,” the “Canal Day Horseshoe Tournament,” food vendors, kids’ games and crafts, “Canal Stories and Songs,” a fire truck display, bingo, live music, a kids’ fishing derby and a flea market.

Settlers from Germany played a major role in the early history of Pennsylvania and their influence is still being felt. These pioneers and their customs are honored each summer at a Pennsylvania German folk festival in Kutztown — an event that has been around for more than a half-century and is still growing.

This year’s Kutztown Folk Festival will open its gates for the season on June 28 and continue through July 6 at the Kutztown Fairgrounds. The popular annual event, which is billed as a celebration of Pennsylvania Dutch culture, features traditional crafts, food, music and folk life. The festival will open its gates each day at 10 a.m. and run until 8 p.m.

In addition to being a fun, family-oriented country fair, it also serves as a viable introduction to the Pennsylvania Dutch in Berks County. The festival’s organizers work closely with the Kutztown University Pennsylvania German Heritage Center to offer a high quality folk life program that is both enjoyable and educational.

The presentation of Pennsylvania Dutch culture will feature a variety of activities daily, including farming and gardening, churches and weddings, folk life, Pennsylvania Dutch dialect and folklore, furniture, spinning and weaving, country cooks and candle making.

The festival also offers non-stop entertainment with country auctions, parades and bands, fiddling, live music and dancing, comedy, storytelling and historical seminars. Additionally, over 200 juried folk artists and traditional American craftsmen will be participating with both sales and demonstrations.

There will also be a lot of attractions for children including puppet shows, make-and-take crafts sessions, visits with baby farm animals, real-life haystacks, story time sessions, a hay maze, sing-alongs and a variety of hands-on activities.

As always, there will be plenty of booths featuring Pennsylvania Dutch food treats and beverages, including family style feasts, shoo-fly pies, sausage sandwiches, pastries, country chicken dinners, strawberry shortcake, funnel cakes, ox roasts, sarsaparilla and chicken potpie. Admission to the festival is $14 for adults, $13 for senior citizens and $5 for students.

This weekend, the Mount Hope Estate & Winery (Route 72, Cornwall, 717-665-7021, www.PaRenFaire.com) will host the 16th Annual International Celtic Fling and Highland Games at the winery’s fairgrounds in Cornwall.

The event runs from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on June 28 and 29 with tickets priced at $26.95 for adults and $10.95 for children (ages 5-11). The Celtic Fling will also feature a special Celtic concert with Albannach, Barleyjuice and Gaelic Storm on June 27 at 7 p.m. with tickets listed at $29.95.

The festival, which celebrates traditional and contemporary Celtic heritage, features the music, food and culture of all the Celtic nations — Welsh, Cornish, Manx, Bretons, Galecians/Asturians and, of course, Irish and Scottish.

Attractions this year include more than 50 musical performances, competitions and demonstrations, a full slate of live entertainment and the Ceilidh (grand finale of music and dance).

The competitive Highland Games focus on traditional competition events such as “Tossing the Caber”, “Weight for Distance”, “Hammer Throw” and “Putting the Stone”. There will also Irish dance competitions.

For the thirsty and the hungry, there will be more than 20 feast kitchens featuring a culinary tour of the Celtic Nations with traditional items. Some of the Celtic delicacies available for purchase at this weekend’s festival will be Highland Honey Mead, Scotch Eggs, Tiger Pie, Shepherd’s Pie, Haggis, Cottage Pie, Irish Potato & Leek Soup, Boxty and Corned Beef and Smoked Cabbage.

In addition to the 100-plus resident Renaissance Faire shops, there will be booths presented by more than 50 guest artisans and merchants with a wide array of unique items from imported Irish wools and Scottish tartans to Celtic souvenirs.

Lancaster is always a bustle of activity at the beginning of each month when it hosts the well-attended “First Friday” event from January until December. This month, Lancaster will be also be hopping on a weekend at the end of the month with “Celebrate Lancaster” and Long’s Park’s “Summer Music Series.”

“Celebrate Lancaster” (717-291-4758, www.lancastercityevents.com), which will be held on June 27in downtown Lancaster, is designed to display the culture and diversity of Lancaster and the people who live and work here.

Attendance has grown to close to 15,000 in recent years for the festival — an event that offers local food, local wine and beer, entertainment, fireworks, and a festive atmosphere in downtown Lancaster.

There will be local and regional entertainment at both Penn Square and at Binns Park along with more than 20 food venders set up along North Queen Street. Two beer and wine pub areas will also be set up at Penn Square and Binns Park.

The event gets underway at 11:30 am. Live music begins at 5 p.m. and the fireworks finale is scheduled to light up the sky at 10 p.m.

The “Summer Music Series” at Long’s Park (Route 30 and Harrisburg Pike,

Lancaster, 717-735-8883, http://longspark.org) hosts free concerts under the stars every Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. from early June through the end of August.

The show scheduled for June 29 features the Allegro Chamber Orchestra. In Allegro’s NextGen ensemble, students rehearse side-by-side with professionals in a mentoring environment. The experience culminates with a performance of large symphonic repertoire in Lancaster’s largest outdoor music venue.

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Tags: America’s Biggest Birthday Party, Brandywine Hospital, Kalmar Nyckel, Kutztown Folk Festival, longwood gardens, Old Fashioned Ice Cream Festival at Rockwood Park, Schuylkill Canal Association’s Canal Day, Tyler Arboretum, United Sports, Wawa Welcome America Festival

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