What To Do: When you don’t celebrate Christmas

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Christmas-influenced music, advertising, TV shows and events are everywhere. It is virtually impossible not to be affected by the Christmas holiday season — but not everyone celebrates Christmas.

Actually, there are many people who do not celebrate Christmas for a variety of valid reasons — most commonly because they are of a different religion. For Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Shintos, Sikhs, and Muslims, Christmas is not a religious holiday.

Fortunately for them, there is a special event in Philadelphia at Christmastime created for people who do not celebrate Christmas.

The long-running annual event is held each year on December 25 at the National Museum of American Jewish History (101 South Independence Mall East, Philadelphia, 215- 923-3811, www.nmajh.org).

For years, the event was known as “Being Jewish at Christmas.” Now, the name of the one-day celebration, which will run from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on December 25, is called “Being ­­­­_ _ _ _ _ _ at Christmas.”

The museum’s website offers the following invitation — “Snowy…Jewish…Happy…Caring…Buddhist…Generous…Family…Creative…Friendly…Sparkly…Fill in your own blank and join us for our annual day of family fun!”

The event will feature music, comedy, children’s activities and refreshments. Alex & the Kaleidoscope will be playing songs guaranteed to get guests dancing and moving. Performance times are 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 and 1:30 p.m.

Visitors to the museum will be able to meet the “man behind the machine” in the special exhibition “The Art of Rube Goldberg” – an exhibition filled with educational fun for the whole family. They can also enjoy Rube-themed crafts, and classic films.

Other activities include balloon art from Bon Bon’s Parties and face painting. There will also be “Storytime” sessions at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 12:30, 1:30 and 2:30 p.m.

As an added attraction, there will be screenings of short films by The Marx Brothers and The Three Stooges.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for children (12 and under).

On Christmas Day, there is often a lull between the early morning hours when presents are exchanged and the late afternoon when a multi-course holiday meal is served.

Washington Crossing State Park

If you’re looking for something different to do during this time gap, consider taking a trip to Washington Crossing State Park (1112 River Road, Washington Crossing, 215- 493-4076, www.ushistory.org/washingtoncrossing).

In a tradition that has existed for more than a half-century, the park’s rangers and associates present a program which features a re-enactment of George Washington crossing the Delaware River with his troops.

This year’s 66th annual staging of the free event, which will be held weather permitting, will take place at 1 p.m. on December 25 at Washington Crossing State Park. Activities will get underway at noon with George Washington delivering an address to his troops.

There will also be presentations of other famous speeches as well as a display by re-enactment groups of what military camp life was like during the era. The focal point of the free event will be when Washington and his men recreate the crossing of the Delaware River in a small group of wooden Durham boats.

River crossings are contingent upon safe conditions for participants. However, even if conditions do not allow for crossing, ceremonies, speeches and commemorative activities still occur.

Valley Forge National Historical Park (Route 23, Valley Forge, https://encampmentstore.org/trolley-tours/) is presenting special Holiday Trolley Tours from December 26-31.  Park guides will offer three tours each day — 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 1-2:30 p.m. and 3-4:30 p.m.

The 90-minute guided tours, which feature a ride in a comfortable, old-fashioned Trolley, depart from the front of the Visitor Center and travel throughout the Park. Each excursion features extended stops at Muhlenberg’s Brigade and Washington’s Headquarters.

Valley Forge National Historical Park is nationally significant as the site of the 1777-78 winter encampment of the Continental Army under General George Washington. It was here that the Continental Army under Washington’s leadership emerged as a cohesive and disciplined fighting force.

The tours, which are both fun and educational, give visitors the opportunity to observe many of the park’s most significant historical sites. Tickets are $17.50 for adults, $14.50 for students, seniors (62 and over) and active military and $9 for children (11 and under).

At the end of each year, the Delaware Museum of Natural History (4840 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-658-9111, www.delmnh.org) presents a special event geared for families for the week between Christmas and New Year.

From December 27-30, the children-oriented museum in northern Delaware will be presenting its “Discovery Days.” The event, which is scheduled to run from 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. each day, features four days of festive family fun, including hands-on nature and science activities, live animals, face painting, and special activities.

Participants will be able to meet owls and other amazing birds up close with “live bird encounters” scheduled for all four days.

Partner organizations include Animal Behavior and Conservation Connections, Wilmington State Parks, New Castle County Mounted Patrol, Hockessin Athletic Club, Uncle Johns BBQ, Face Painting by Dori on December 27 and Delaware Blue Coats, Auburn Valley State Park, Delaware Valley Paleontological Society, Animal Behavior and Conservation Connections, Face Painting by Dori, and Outlandish Food Truck on December 28.

The roster for December 29 includes Animal Behavior and Conservation Connections, Fort Delaware State Park, Mr. Mike’s Dinorific Rhymes and Games, Face Painting by Dori, Auburn Valley State Park, Uncle John BBQ & Mojo Loco Food Truck. The partner organizations for December 30 will be Animal Behavior and Conservation Connections, Face Painting by Dori, Mr. Mike’s Dinorific Rhymes and Games, and Uncle John BBQ.

The four-day event will wrap up on Sunday with an early New Year’s Eve celebration featuring the  Chinese American Community Center. The festivities will end with an early New Year’s celebration at 3:30 p.m. featuring music, a snowball drop and countdown to 2019.

Discovery Days is a special event with specific admission prices during the four days — $12 for adults, seniors and children and free for children two and under.

An interesting and educational special event will be presented at the Ephrata Cloister (632 West Main Street, Ephrata, 717-733-6600, www.ephratacloister.org) from December 26-29 – the 2018 edition of the Cloister’s annual “Lantern Tours.”

The Ephrata Cloister

The Ephrata Cloister or Ephrata Community was a religious community, established in 1732 by Johann Conrad Beissel at Ephrata. The grounds of the community are now administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

The tours take guests back in time to visit the Cloister as it may have appeared in the 1700s. Each year’s story offers a cast of junior and senior high school students playing the roles that bring history to life. A different story is presented each year.

This year’s tours will lead visitors through four of the historic buildings on site as the story unfolds to offer differing views of Conrad Beissel.  Refreshments and a chance for conversation will end the evening.  Each of the one-hour tours is limited in attendance, and begins each half-hour starting at 6:30 p.m.

Reservations are required and can be made by calling (717) 733-6600. Tours will depart the visitor center every 30 minutes from 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. The cost is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors (65 and older), $7 for youth (ages 6-11) and $5 for children (ages 3-5).

Rock Ford Plantation

Rock Ford Plantation (881 Rockford Road, Lancaster, 717-392-7223, www.rockfordplantation.org), which was the home of plantation owner Edward Hand, presents its Yuletide Candlelight Tours during the days following Christmas. This year’s events will be staged from December 26-28.

Yuletide was celebrated in the late 1700s during the 12-day period between Christmas (December 25, the day Christ was born) and Twelfth Night/the Feast of the Magi (January 6, the day the Magi offered their gifts to the infant Christ).

Back then, Christmas Day did not mark the culmination of the holiday but rather its beginning with a variety of old English traditions — decorating the home with greens, baking a Twelfth Night cake, enjoying the wassail bowl and burning the Yule log.

This year, candlelight tours will be held on December 26, and 27 from 4-8 p.m. each night. There be a special Yuletide Daylight Tour on December 28 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

For the candlelight tours, the Georgian-style mansion will be decorated with holiday greenery and illuminated by the glow of lighted candles.

During the evening tours, visitors will be able to listen to live performances of period music and watch early American dancing in the great hall. Authentic 18th-century music of the season will be performed during the candlelight tours.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors (65 and older) and children (ages 6-12).

Full Moon Tour

This month’s edition of the “Full Moon Tour” at the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania (465 Speedwell Forge Road, Lititz, 717-626-4617, http://wolfsanctuarypa.org) is scheduled for December 22.

The Sanctuary offers this tour once a month on the closest Saturday to the full moon. This month, it’s slated for this Saturday and the full moon is known as the “December Moon.”

This event allows participants to create their own experiences. Instead of following a tour guide from pack to pack at a regulated pace that fits within a 45-minute time line, you get to go at your own pace from pack to pack.

There is also the option of talking to tour guides who are stationed at each pack. You can listen to what they have to say about the wolves when stopping at a station – and you have the option to ask questions.

With this tour, you move at whatever speed you find comfortable. If you get tired, you can go over and sit next to a roaring bond fire (weather permitting) and just relax.

Visitors are requested to bring a blanket, a flashlight, a chair and maybe some hot dogs and marshmallows.

The tour starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20, and no reservations are required.

On December 22, Norristown Farm Park (2500 Upper Farm Road, Norristown, www.montcopa.org/norristownfarmpark) will host an event called “Full Moon Hike.”

Visitors can team up with a park ranger on an early evening walk that will be illuminated by the full moon and learn why the December full moon is sometimes called the “cold moon” or the “long night’s moon.”

The hike will be between two and three miles. Pre-registration is required for the event which is for adults and children eight and older. Admission is free.

Winter Solstice Celebration

On December 21, the day might be over before you know it – and not just because it’s the last Friday before Christmas Day. December 21 is the day of “Winter Solstice 2018.”

The winter solstice, also known as midwinter, is an astronomical phenomenon marking the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year.

The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County (tlcforscc.org) will present a “Winter Solstice Celebration” on December 21.

The event will run from 5-7 p.m. at Stateline Woods Preserve, 850 Merrybell Lane, Kennett Square.

The winter solstice has been observed by cultures for thousands of years.  Despite the darkness, the evening of December 21 is a time of festivity. At TLC’s “Winter Solstice Celebration,” participants will have the opportunity to embrace the cold and revel in the coming light at the ninth annual staging of the event.

After a brief ceremony of the seasons, visitors can enjoy hot chocolate, music and refreshments by the bonfire while the hosts decorate the evergreen tree atop Crossfield Hill at Stateline Woods Preserve.

Tickets for the celebration are $15.

Kennett Square (http://historickennettsquare.com) celebrates the holidays with a special seasonal ride. Horse-drawn carriage rides will be offered in downtown Kennett Square on December 23 from noon-3 p.m.

Carriages rides leave from the northeast corner of State and Union Street (in front of Genesis HealthCare Building) and cost $5 per person (children 5 and under are free). The carriage ride is about 15 minutes.  Last carriage ride leaves around 2:45 p.m.

Carriage rides are weather dependent (temperature, wind and precipitation). The health and safety of the horses are the top priority for carriage ride provider – Lisa Knox of Fox Meadow Farms.

On December 21, the Kennett Library (216 East State Street, Kennett Square, 610-444-2702, kennettlibrary.org) will host its “Holiday Craft Day.”

At the festive event, children will create four crafts to decorate their home for the holiday season.

All ages are welcome to the party which will run from 10-11 a.m. The special activity is free and open to the public.

Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) is now in full holiday mode with the arrival of “A Longwood Christmas.”

Longwood Gardens

The festive holiday display at Longwood Gardens, which opened on Thanksgiving Day and is continuing through January 6, 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).

Herr’s Snack Food Factory (20 Herr Drive, Nottingham, 610-932-9330, www.herrs.com) celebrates the Christmas holidays each year with its eagerly-anticipated “Holiday Light Display.”

The area around the factory site is converted into a winter wonderland nightly with the illumination of thousands of lights and holiday displays.

Herr’s annual “Holiday Light Display” is running now through January 1. The special light exhibit will be open daily from dusk to dawn.

“A Brandywine Christmas”, which is running now through January 6 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.

“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, and “Terrific Trains Family Program” on January 5.

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

Delaware is a good destination for holiday shopping – it’s tax-free – and a good destination for holiday-themed activities.

“Holidays at Hagley” is 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).

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 $15 for adults, $11 for seniors and students and $6 for children (ages 6-14).

Nemours Mansion & Gardens (Route 141 South, Alapocas Drive, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-651-6912, www.nemoursmansion.org) is welcoming visitors for the Christmas holidays with “Holidays at the Estate.”

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

Ever since 1910, when Mr. and Mrs. duPont began living in their newly built mansion, the holiday season has been a festive time at Nemours. The Christmas decorations at the Nemours Mansion are often inspired by the architecture of the home, the customs of the duPonts or the French influence. The Mansion is also decorated by some of the duPonts’ original decorations, including a German crèche, which dates from the late 19th century. The figures are soft ceramic, unglazed and hand-colored.

Visitors can enjoy Christmas trees, wreaths, and hundreds of feet of garland on grand display in the Visitor Center, Chauffer’s Garage, Mansion and grounds. New this year, the mechanical wing of the basement will feature holiday displays made from metal, glass and industrial elements sure to inspire any inventor or engineer.

The Historic Odessa Foundation’s 2018 Christmas Holiday Tour is an event with an appeal that spans generations. The tours will be presented now through December 30 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 31st anniversary of the Historic Houses of Odessa’s annual Christmas Holiday Tours and Exhibits inspired by works of classic children’s literature.

This holiday season the Historic Odessa Foundation will be having a Dickens of a Christmas as it celebrates the 175th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ indelible classic “A Christmas Carol, In Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas,” first published in 1843.

Visitors will be transported into Charles Dickens’ powerful Christmas tale of redemption as the 244-year old Corbit-Sharp House is transformed into the world of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge with vignettes to include depictions of his counting house, his lodgings, the festive Mr. Fezziwig’s ball, the austere house of Tiny Tim, the parlor of Scrooge’s nephew Fred, and the cemetery.

All of the Historic Houses of Odessa are open and on full festive display for the 2018 Holiday Season, including special school and family tours and events celebrating “A Christmas Carol, In Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas” and special exhibit in the National Historic Landmark Corbit-Sharp House (c. 1774), and the Storybook Trees exhibit in the Wilson-Warner House (1769).

Special events and tours will be held throughout the holiday season including “Candlelight Tours” at 7 p.m. on December 27 and “Festive Foods/Hearth Cooking Demonstration” on December 29 from 10 a.m.-3 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).

One of the best holiday events in the area is the annual “Yuletide at Winterthur.” This year’s 40th annual staging of the event, which runs now through through January 6 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.
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.

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.

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).

A fun — and maybe a little chilly — way to celebrate the holidays is to go on a “Holiday Hayride” at Arasapha Farm (1835 Middletown Road, Gradyville, 610-459-2944, www.holidayhayride.com).

Guests will ride on sound-equipped hay wagons through a six-acre holiday wonderland featuring huge light displays, decorated trees and buildings, a variety of Christmas scenes, live reindeer and a beautifully animated Santa’s workshop. The hayride lasts about 20 minutes and is choreographed with all the favorite songs of the season.

After the wagon ride, guests are encouraged to gather around the bonfire to enjoy hot beverages. There also will be opportunities to have pictures taken with Santa and check out the live nativity scene that features real animals and actors. Arasapha Farm is featuring its “Holiday Hayride” now through December 23 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. each night — weather permitting. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $10 for children (ages 2-8).

“Christmas Around The Farm” converts a summertime destination for home-grown produce into a sparkling winter wonderland. The popular annual event at Linvilla Orchards (137 West Knowlton Road, Media, 610-876-7116, www.linvilla.com) is running now through December 23.

Visitors will be able to cut their own Christmas trees, or, if not so inspired, purchase them at the shop — which also features other decorations, including holiday wreaths. Christmasland features freshly-cut trees, greens and holly, poinsettias, hand-made wreaths and a large variety of children’s toys and collectables.

Santa and his elves will be stopping by every Saturday and Sunday to visit his friends in Christmasland from 1-3 p.m. And, there will be caroling Hayrides Saturday evenings in December that include the ancient tradition of Wassailing, singing Christmas Carols around a campfire and roasting marshmallows.

Almost everyone enjoys a ride on an excursion train – even Santa Claus.

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 orwww.westchesterrr.net).

The special “Santa’s Express” trains (which feature heated cars decorated for the holidays) will run on December 22 and 23 at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. There will be additional departures at 5 p.m. on December 22 and 23.

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 $25. Tickets for children (ages 2-12) are $18 while toddlers (ages 9-23 months) get to ride for $8.

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 23, 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 “Night Before Christmas” train on December 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 these rides on the Strasburg Railroad are $19.50 for adults, $13.50 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 $94.98 for adults, $84.98 for children (ages 3-11) and $15.95 for infants (ages 0-2).

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.

The Colebrookdale Railroad (Washington and Third Streets, Boyertown, www.colebrookdalerailroad.com) has several options for holiday-related excursion rides.

The “Santa Claus Polar Express Train” and the “’Twas The Night Before Christmas Train” are running now through December 23. The “Snowflake Special” will run from December 25-31.

It is approximately a two-hour round trip for any of the train excursions.

Tickets for “Santa Claus Polar Express Train” and “’Twas The Night Before Christmas Train” are $45 for adults, $34 for children (ages 2-12), $38 for seniors (65 and older) and $5 for toddlers (under 2; must be held; no seat). Tickets for the “Snowflake Special” are $30 for adults, $23 for children (ages 2-12), $25 for seniors (65 and older) and $5 for toddlers (under 2).

The Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad (136 Brown Street, Middletown, 717-944-4435, www.mhrailroad.com) will be running its “Santa Surprise Trains” on December 22 and 23 and its “Polar Bear Express” on December 21-23.

Santa Claus will have a special present for all kid riders.

It is an 11-mile round-trip train ride along the Swatara Creek. Passengers board 1920’s vintage Delaware, Lackawanna & Western coaches at the 1891 Station in Middletown, which was originally built as a freight station and in more recent years converted for use as a passenger station. The Station contains a ticket window, gift shop and modern ADA restrooms.

Santa Claus will have a special present for all kid riders. Fares for the “Santa Surprise” rides are $17 (ages 12 and older), $14 (ages 2-11) and $4 (under age 2 and on lap). Tickets for the “Polar Bear Express” trains are $20 (ages 12 and older), $15 (ages 2-11) and $4 (under age 2 and on lap).

The Allentown and Auburn Railroad (35 Railroad Street, Kutztown, 570-778-7531, http://allentownandauburnrr.com) is running special “Santa Claus Train Rides” on December 22 and 23.

Guests will be able to visit with Santa during the scenic train ride and have some pictures done.

The train will make a brief stop at the railroad’s picnic grove where riders will have the option to purchase “holiday evergreens with a sprinkle of Christmas magic.” When they get back to the Kutztown Train Station, visitors can also do some holiday shopping in the Allentown & Auburn Gift Shop, which features handmade and antique items.

Trains depart at 10 a.m., noon and 2 and 4 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for seniors and $9 for children.

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.

Founded more than 50 years ago, Choo Choo Barn — Traintown U.S.A. ((Route 741 East, 226 Gap Rd, Strasburg, 717-687-7911, www.choochoobarn.com) presents a 1,700-square-foot train layout featuring over 150 hand-built animated figures and vehicles and 22 operating trains. The majority of trains that are running in the display are “O Gauge” trains but there are also some HO Gauge trains as well as one N Gauge train.

Several of the original pieces and animations are still on the display today, including the ski slope, ski lodge and ice skaters, Dutch Haven, the Willows, the two-lane moving highway (in front of Dutch Haven), the farm with the tobacco barn, the Strasburg Fire House, the church beside Dutch Haven and a few other houses.

The layout features a special Christmas display now through January 16. The homes and businesses along the tracks have been decked out with holiday trim. And, there are 55 hidden Santas — one for each year the site has been open — located around the display for visitors to find.

Tickets are $8.50 for adults and $5 for children (ages 3 and under) at Choo Choo Barn — Traintown U.S.A.

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,http://www.morrisarboretum.org). 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 $19 for adults, $17 for seniors (65 and older) and $10 for students and military.

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 2018 show “The First Noel” 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 Rainbow Comedy Playhouse (3065 Lincoln Highway East, Paradise, 800-292-4301, www.Rainbowcomedy.com) is presenting its holiday production “Christmas in Paradise” now through December 29.

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 6:30 p.m. and the show following at 8 p.m. There will also be “Twilight Performances” on selected Sundays with dinner at 2:30 p.m. and the show at 4 p.m. Ticket prices range from $27-$63.

A popular annual holiday event in the Lancaster area is Yuletide at Wheatland (President James Buchanan’s Wheatland, 1120 Marietta Avenue, Lancaster, 717-392-4633, http://www.lancasterhistory.org/events/yuletide-at-wheatland).

Wheatland and lancasterHistory.org are teaming up to present a festive way to celebrate a Lancaster Victorian Christmas.

Visitors are invited to join LancasterHistory.org for a historical performance that captures a moment in time and takes them back to the holiday of 1875.

It is the winter of 1875 and James Buchanan’s niece, Harriet Lane Johnston, and her family have decked the halls of Wheatland in high Victorian style. Join them for a one-of-a-kind Yuletide experience, complete with elegant decor and ample holiday cheer.

Performances run Fridays and Saturdays now through December 30 (daily from December 26-30) and are limited to 20 visitors each performance.

Tickets are $17 for adults, $8 for children (ages 6-13) and free for children (5 and under).

If you head to Berks County this weekend, you can check out “Christmas at FirstEnergy Stadium” (1900 Centre Avenue, Reading).

The home of the Reading Phillies has been transformed into a winter wonderland this holiday season – a big change from the summertime vibe of minor league baseball.

The event features a one-of-a-kind on-field multi-media LED light show, live Nativity scene, live reindeer, Santa’s House, “Frozen” Ice Cave and a variety of other family-friendly attractions.

“Christmas at First Energy Stadium” is running now through December 23. Tickets are $7 in advance and $9 day of event.

Several of Montgomery County’s scenic historic sites are festively celebrating the 2018 Christmas holiday season.

Pennypacker Mills (3 Haldeman Road, Perkiomenville, 610- 287-9349, www.historicsites.montcopa.org) is hosting “Victorian Holiday Tours” now through January 6 while “Twelfth Night Tours at Pottsgrove Manor” (100 West King Street, Pottstown, 610-326-4014, www.historicsites.montcopa.org) are running now through January 6.

For the next six 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 are $2.

In Bucks County, Peddler’s Village (Routes 202 and 263, Lahaska, 215-794-4000, http://peddlersvillage.com) has a lot of holiday-themed family activity over the next few weeks.

Visitors to the Village can join special guest Mrs. Claus for festive fun and mini-lightings in a different Village neighborhood each night leading up to the Village-wide Grand Illumination Celebration. Village shops will be open until 9 p.m. with a distinctive assortment of merchandise, special promotions and refreshments.

The Grand Illumination Celebration showcases 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.

Peddler’s Village “Gingerbread House Competition and Display” is slated to run through January 5. The “Gingerbread House Competition” features over $2,000 in cash prizes in such categories as Traditional and Authentic Reproduction of a Significant Building.

The Glencairn Museum (1001 Cathedral Road, Bryn Athyn, 267-502-2600, www.glencairnmuseum.org) is a Bucks County museum featuring religious art and area history museum.

The museum, which was formerly the home of the fabled Pitcairn family, is presenting its “Christmas at Glencairn” holiday celebration now through January 7.

Glencairn was built almost a century ago for the family of Raymond and Mildred Pitcairn, members of a congregation of a Christian denomination known as the New Church. Bryn Athyn was founded in the late 19th century as a New Church religious community.

“Christmas at Glencairn” features special exhibitions, a “Christmas in the Castle” tour, a Christmas concert and other holiday activities. The “World Nativities” exhibition is on display in Glencairn’s North Porch, Great Hall, Upper Hall and Bird Room.

The 45-minute “Christmas in the Castle” guided tours focus on the way Christmas was celebrated at Glencairn during the Pitcairn couple’s 4o years in the house. Guided tours cost $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. The suggested donation for self-guided tours is $5.

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 will be open 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 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.

A popular Philadelphia 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 2018 Franklin Square Holiday Festival (200 North Sixth Street, Philadelphia, http://www.historicphiladelphia.org/franklin-square/holidays-in-franklin-square/) opens its season this weekend and it 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.

A great way to get in the spirit of the holidays is to check out the Comcast Holiday Spectacular, which is running now Through January 1 in the lobby of the Comcast Center (1701 John F Kennedy Blvd., Philadelphia).

At the top of the hour from 10 a.m.-8 p.m., visitors gather in front of the Comcast Experience video wall to catch the magic of The Comcast Holiday Spectacular, which is one of the world’s largest highest-resolution LED displays. Measuring 83.3 feet wide by 25.4 feet high, the 2,100 square-foot video wall is five times the resolution of high-definition television and one of the world’s highest-resolution LED screens.

The Comcast Holiday Spectacular is filled with sights and sounds of the season. Since its debut in 2008, more than 1.6 million people have experienced the holiday show in the Comcast Center lobby – a show that has become an annual holiday tradition.

The 15-minute Comcast Holiday Spectacular takes visitors on a festive, musical journey featuring classic favorites like “Carol of the Bells,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” and “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The show also features sing-alongs, a magical sleigh ride from the Philadelphia countryside to high above the city skyline, and a short video of “The Nutcracker” performed by the Pennsylvania Ballet.

Another top-flight holiday attraction in Center City Philadelphia is Macy’s Christmas Light Show at Macy’s Center City (1300 Market Street, Philadelphia, 215-241-9000, https://www.visitmacysusa.com/philadelphia).

With more than 157,000 square feet of the latest fashion and home décor trends and nearly 100 years of retailing history, Macy’s Center City in the landmark Wanamaker building is a must-see destination.

The Macy’s Christmas Light Show has been a Philadelphia tradition since 1956.

During the light show, more than 100,000 energy-efficient LED lights combine to create fantastic holiday images. For shows starting at noon, the finale of the light show is accompanied live by festive music from the world-renowned Wanamaker Grand Organ.

Now through December 31, Macy’s Center City also features another classic Philly tradition — Dickens Village.

The 6,000-square-foot Village on the third floor of Macy’s Center City brings Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol” to life with more than 100 fully animated figures reenacting 26 of the story’s most memorable moments. The Village is open daily, excluding Christmas.

It’s a sure sign that winter has arrived when season opens for the Blue Cross RiverRink (Delaware Avenue at Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-925-RINK,www.riverrink.com).

Unlike most of the suburban ice rinks, RiverRink features public skating. Ice skating is the only use of the ice. This winter, RiverRink takes the ice-skating experience on the Delaware River waterfront to another level by once again transforming the annual rink into a bona fide winter wonderland.

Open seven days a week, the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest is an immersive winter-themed experience with a popular bar and restaurant called The Lodge, winter beer garden-style landscaping, a brand-new light show, and a retail shopping experience from Art Star Gallery & Boutique.

The outdoor rink’s hours are 1-10:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 1 p.m.-12:30 a.m. on Fridays, 11 a.m.-12:30 a.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. on Sundays. Skating admission prices are $4 for admission and $10 for skate rental.

Adventure Aquarium’s “Christmas Underwater,” which provides visitors with a different look at Christmas, is running now through December 30 at the Adventure Aquarium (1 Riverside Drive, Camden, New Jersey, www.adventureaquarium.com).

The attraction features the “World’s Tallest Underwater Christmas Tree.” At over 18 feet tall, the tallest underwater Christmas tree on Earth has arrived in Shark Realm. Scuba Santa has collected corals from all over the world’s oceans to decorate the tree along with colorful shells, thousands of twinkling lights, enchanting bubbles and a bit of magic.

“Christmas Underwater” offers a variety of activities geared for all ages including “Milk and Cookies with Santa,” “Dry-side” Holiday Photos with Santa Claus,” “Merry Elfish Storytime,” “Snow Shower Dance Party,” the “I Believe in Scuba Santa Live Show,” and “Scuba Santa Appearances.”

Admission to Adventure Aquarium is $29.99 for adults and $21.99 for children.

If you really, really want to get into the Christmas mood vibe big-time, visit Koziar’s Christmas Village (782 Christmas Village Road, Bernville, 610-488-1110,www.koziarschristmasvillage.com) which began its 71st season at the start of November.

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 $12 for adults, $11 for seniors (65 and older) and $10 for children (ages 4-10).

Amusement parks are not just for the summer. They are also great Christmas holiday destinations.

“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.

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 to “Christmas Candylane” is $26.95.

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.

“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 January 1, 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 $34.99.

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 23.

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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