What To Do: First Weekend full of outdoor options

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Old City First Friday

If you want to get out of the house and do something fun this weekend, you do have a few interesting options.

The first Friday of the month is a good time to check out a First Friday event. This weekend, two good choices are Old City Philadelphia and Lancaster.

This month’s edition of First Friday Lancaster (https://visitlancastercity.com/first-friday) will run from 5-9 p.m. on January 1 in downtown Lancaster.

Downtown Lancaster comes alive on the First Friday of each month.

The event will feature attractive exhibitions at art galleries, artisan studios and museums. There will also be live performances presented in a variety of genres — professional theater, symphony orchestra and performing groups.

From 5-9 p.m. on the first Friday of each month, art lovers take to the streets of Old City (vicinity of Second and Market streets, Philadelphia, www.oldcitydistrict.org) to browse through more than 40 galleries which all stay open late to debut their latest exhibitions.

Cafés and restaurants also join in the First Friday activities and neighborhood boutiques feature special put on sales exclusively for late-night shoppers.

The opening of the 2021 season of the West Chester Growers Market (North Church and West Chestnut streets, West Chester, http://www.westchestergrowersmarket.com/) is scheduled for January 2.

The market, which is the first and longest-running, outdoor producer-only market established in southeastern Pennsylvania, will be open from 10 a.m. until noon (rain, snow, or shine).

Producer-only means that that the fruits, vegetables, herbs, plants, chicken, beef, pork, eggs and cut flowers that are sold at the market must be farmed by the farmer that you meet at market and that the cheeses, salsas, sauces, pies, jams, pasta, honey, maple syrup, breads, and soap on sale there can only come from the local artisans who make them.

The farmers and artisans want to meet you, shake your hand, share their stories and talk about the importance of eating locally grown sustainable foods and purchasing locally produced goods.
Farmers, growers, and artisans participating on January 4 will be Big Sky Bread, Conebella Farm, Fahnestock Fruit Farm, Bryer Apiary, Chile Spot, Applied Climatology, LLC, Big Hill Ciderworks, Saginaw Ridge Farm, ​Yellow Springs Farm, D & V Organics, Cucina Verde and Lindenhof Farm.
Also featured will be Blueberry Hill Farm, Ridge Valley Farm, ​Riverside Blooms, Rose’s Gluten Free Bakery, Ellen April Handcrafted Soap, EverGreen Farm, Honey Run Produce, Humpty’’s Dumplings, Lizzie’s Kitchen and London Vale Farm.

The roster also includes Manatawny Still Works, MyHouse Cookies, North Star Orchard LLC, Pureblend Tea, Maiale Deli and Salumeria, Nutty Novelties, Oley Valley Mushrooms, Queens Farm Produce, Tally Ho Coffee, Taste of Puebla, Vera Pasta, and Yomi Bites.

This weekend will be a good time to head over to your favorite Mexican bakery to purchase the once-a-year baked treat known as Rosca De Reyes.

Rosca de Reyes

Rosca de Reyes, which translates to “Kings’ Ring,” is an oval-shaped pastry traditionally eaten to celebrate Epiphany on January 6. Epiphany is also known as El Día de Reyes (“Kings’ Day”) — a day to commemorate the arrival of the three Magi or Wise Men.

The tradition of placing a figurine of the Christ child inside the cake goes back centuries. The baby Jesus hidden in the bread represents the flight of the Holy Family as it fled from King Herod’sMassacre of the Innocents.

Whoever finds the baby Jesus figurine is blessed and must take the figurine to the nearest church on February 2 (Candlemas Day, Día de la Candelaria). In the Mexican culture, this person also must host a dinner which includes tamales and hot chocolate.

If you’re looking for holiday-themed activities where you can remain socially distanced safe and stay warm without having to be indoors, drive-through lights events provide a good option.

Herr’s Snack Food Factory

The holiday season at Herr’s Snack Food Factory (20 Herr Drive, Nottingham, 610-932-9330, www.herrs.com)is drawing to a close. For weeks, the area around the factory site has been illuminated with thousands of lights and holiday displays.

Herr’s “Holiday Light Display,” which is free and open to the public, will be open nightly through January 2.

Visitors to the site will be able to drive along a trail that is illuminated with more than 600,000 lights.

The special light exhibit will be open daily from dusk to dawn.

The Wells Fargo Center’s ample parking lot on Broad Street below Pattison Avenue is hosting an inaugural holiday event now through January 3 – “Winter on Broad Street: A Holiday Light Spectacular!”

Winter on Broad Street

Visitors to the display, which is located just steps from Wells Fargo Center, will have the opportunity to meander through 193 larger-than-life light sculptures and displays, indulge in yuletide confections and fill their senses with favorite holiday traditions.

Visitors can stroll through this spacious outdoor experience (160,000-plus square feet to allow for social distancing) while taking in the vast array of whimsical light installations powered by more than a half-million light bulbs.

Marquee light sculptures include a 25-foot reindeer, a 20-foot ornament, two identical dazzling diamond sculptures, an enchanted forest of more than 45 illuminated trees, an “Under the Tree” pop up of life-size illuminated toys, glowing tunnels and winding icicle paths.

Additional attractions are photo sessions with Gritty Claus and holiday-inspired sweets and treats and a “Mistletoe Marketplace” selling hand-crafted ornaments, custom artwork, wintertime clothing and decor.

Timed tickets are required to access the attraction, which has been set up for one-way, linear traffic to permit social distancing. Ticket prices start at $20.

When The Grand in Wilmington (www.thegrandwilmington.org) was forced by pandemic restrictions to halt its presentation of concerts and theater shows earlier this year, it responded by presenting a series of drive-in concerts this summer and drive-in movies in the fall.

Now, The Grand is thrilled to turn on the lights around town with a new holiday activity sure to be enjoyed by multiple generations.

The “Winter in Wilmington Drive-Thru Holiday Light Show” is scheduled to run through January 3 on Wilmington’s Riverfront.

When visitors drive their cars through the “Winter in Wilmington Light Show,” thousands of lights immerse them in a holiday vibe.

The family-oriented activity features animated installations, interactive music, and holiday cheer.

The displays cover a wide spectrum of holiday themes with Santa, elves, colorful arches, candy canes, Hanukkah Menorahs, Christmas trees, angels, reindeer and a huge jack-in-the-box – all created with colorful lights.

Tickets are $25 per car and are available online only at www.TheGrandWilmington.org. To help make the event enjoyable for everyone, advanced online reservations/pre-purchased admission is required.

The Grand’s “Winter in Wilmington Drive-Thru Light Show” will be open every Thursday-Sunday now through January 3 from 5-9:30 p.m. nightly.

Now through January 9, Crispus Attucks Community CenterLancaster City Alliance and Visit Lancaster City are teaming up to present “Light Up Southeast — Celebration of Lights.”

The display features more than 10,000 lights, 30 flags from around the world, more than 15 light displays and 30-foor Christmas tree.

The event will take place on five blocks of South Duke Street (300-900), the Ewell/Gantz Playground (400 block of Christian Street). The “SACN Tree” will be located at 200 South Ann Street.

Participants can drive through or walk through the display and experience the holiday vibe.

A popular Bucks County attraction is the “Holiday Light Show” at Shady Brook Farm (931 Stony Hill Road, Yardley, www.shadybrookfarm.com)

The farm features a three–million-light Holiday Light Show with “Dashin’ Through the … Lights,” a family-friendly two-mile drive-through on Thursday and Friday nights.

The main display allows visitors to drive or (if weather permits) ride in wagons past post-sundown displays including illuminated tunnels.

The “Holiday Light Show” is open now through January 10.

Timed tickets, which start at $25, are required.

Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) is in full holiday mode with the 2020 edition of “A Longwood Christmas.”

The festive holiday display at Longwood Gardens, which is running now through January 10, 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.

Inside, you have an opportunity to stroll among beautifully adorned trees and plant palettes of delicate winter whites to rich reds and the greenest of evergreens as you wrap yourself in a nostalgic Christmas morning scene. You can engage your senses with fragrant lilies and paperwhites, and relish in the timeless beauty of Christmas favorites like poinsettias and kalanchoe woven throughout the Conservatory.

Outdoors, you can watch your family’s eyes sparkle at all the wondrous sights and feel like a kid again with Longwood’s whimsical Garden Railway. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Garden Railway is a fanciful blend of horticulture, engineering, and lighthearted fun in a special display located outdoors near the Terrace Restaurant. The Garden Railway operates during regular Gardens hours, weather permitting.

Each fall, members of our Horticulture, Facilities, and Guest Services departments team up to achieve the not-so-small feat of creating this multi-level world in miniature. Longwood Gardens showcases its collection of 31 locomotives, steam engines, diesel engines, and specialty engines – including the ever-popular Thomas the Tank Engine and many of his friends — as they rumble along nearly 500 feet of track amid textural foliage, flowering plants, and woody plants.

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.

You may enter the Gardens up to 30 minutes prior and 30 minutes after your designated time. Make every effort to arrive at your designated reservation time. Earlier or later arrivals may not be accommodated.

Admission to Longwood Gardens is $30 for adults, $27 for seniors (ages 62 and older) and college students, $23 for active military and veterans and $16 for students (ages 5-18).

An annual tradition that has delighted families for decades is the Festival of Lights at Rose Tree Park (1671 North Providence Road, Media, www.delcopa.gov/departments/parks/rosetree.html).

Rose Tree Park sparkles during the holiday season with the annual Festival of Lights. Dozens of decorated lit trees and festive displays draw visitors back each year to stroll the glimmering walkways and grounds, linger in the festive atmosphere, and pay a visit to childhood figures such as Charlie Brown & the Peanuts Gang and Santa & his Reindeer.

The Festival of Lights, which opened in early December at the 120-acre park, is running runs through the first weekend in January. Admission and parking are free. This year, the trees will be lit for public enjoyment nightly from 5-10 p.m. until January 3.

Delaware’s state-imposed restrictions are not quite as stringent as those in Pennsylvania and, as a result, more attractions have been able to remain open.

One of the best holiday events in the area is the annual “Yuletide at Winterthur.” This year’s 41st annual staging of the event, which runs now through January 3 at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library (Route 52, Wilmington, Delaware, 800-448-3883, www.winterthur.org).

Winterthur is a museum and would be closed down in Pennsylvania, but it is located in Delaware and can stay open.

At Winterthur, visitors can revel in the beauty and warmth of the holidays and 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; 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.

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.

A new feature this year is the “Outdoor 3D Holiday Light Show,” which is running through December 12 from 5-9 p.m. each night. The Winterthur house serves as the backdrop for a du Pont family Christmas story, told using 3D images, video, lights, and sounds, for an immersive holiday experience. Another event premiere is “S’mores around the Fire” on Saturdays and Sundays through January 3 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. each day. 

Timed Yuletide Tour reservations are required. Admission to Yuletide at Winterthur is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors (age 62 and older) and students (12 and over) and $6 for children (ages 2-11).

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

The popular Brandywine Valley exhibit, which is included with regular admission, continues through January 3 at Hagley Museum and Library (Route 141, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-658-2400, www.hagley.org).

Visitors to “Holidays at Hagley” this season will have the opportunity to see the property decked out for the holidays and enjoy a variety of activities.

On Workers’ Hill, they can sample individually wrapped cookies outside the Gibbons House and peek into a 19th-century kitchen where cookies would have been baked in a woodstove.

Visitors can also stop by and see the festive entries in Hagley’s annual Gingerbread House Competition. These edible works of art will be on display in the Millwright Shop.

Admission is $9 for adults and $5 for children (ages six and under).

The Historic Odessa Foundation (Main Street, Odessa, Delaware, 302-378-4119, www.historicodessa.org) has two things going this holiday season – an outdoor holiday light display and an art exhibit.

This year, the Historic Odessa Foundation (HOF) is breaking from tradition of presenting yuletide vignettes inspired by classic children’s literature in order to bring seasonal sparkle to the 18th century hamlet of Odessa with thousands of lights adorning the Historic Houses of Odessa.

“Look for the Light: Odessa at Night” is running now through January 3 from 5-10 p.m. nightly.

Historic Odessa has had a long and storied past for celebrating the holidays. For 34 years the Historic Houses of Odessa, in the spirit of community partnership, and bedecked for the festive season, has thrown open the doors of its nationally recognized colonial buildings through which thousands of visitors have passed each Christmastime.

Every year, HOF staff have recreated holiday vignettes from a selection of children’s literature, but due to COVID-19 restrictions this will be the first year in more than three decades that Historic Odessa is unable to welcome the visiting public to tour a featured storybook house. As a result, the festivities have been moved outdoor with the focus on holiday lighting.

Peddler’s Village (Routes 202 and 263, Lahaska, 215-794-4000, http://peddlersvillage.com) is presenting its “Holidays in the Village” celebration and that means there will be a lot of activity at the site over the next few weeks.

There will also be some changes beginning this weekend.

The Peddler’s Village website posted this message:

“Peddler’s Village is open.

New state mandates will take effect this weekend. Peddler’s Village will still be open for the holidays, but with these changes starting this Saturday.

Shops will be open but limited to 50% capacity.

Restaurants will be open for outdoor dining and takeout orders only (outdoor tables are located throughout the Village).

Golden Plough Inn will be open, and Giggleberry Fair will be closed. Outdoor family mystery tours will continue

Safety remains a top priority. Guests must wear masks and be mindful of social distancing. To control visitor volume on weekends, we strongly encourage weekday/weekday evening visits.

Be safe and well!”

The Gingerbread Competition & Display is a feast for the eyes with creative and whimsical entries in several categories.

Slated to run through January 9, the “Gingerbread House Competition” features over $2,000 in cash prizes in such categories as Traditional and Authentic Reproduction of a Significant Building.

The Gingerbread entries will be on exhibit in the Shop #1 during shopping hours from November through early January. Entries are open to the public. Admission is free. Guests will be asked to wear masks and to social distance.

With more than 50 specialty shops, Peddler’s Village’s beautiful decorations and one million twinkling lights, set the mood for another holiday season.

Families can participate in Elf on the Stealth, an outdoor walking tour where visitors join Mrs. Claus in search of a missing elf.

“Holidays in the Village” is open now through January 10.

Winter has arrived and the Blue Cross RiverRink (Delaware Avenue at Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-925-RINK, www.riverrink.com) has come back to life.

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.

Another skating option is the Center City Parks District’s Rothman Orthopaedics Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park (1 South 15th Street, Philadelphia, http://ccdparks.org/dilworth-park),

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 wintery fun for all ages, with a full slate of programs.

Hours are Monday-Thursday: Noon-9 p.m.; Friday: Noon-11 p.m.; Saturday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; and Sunday: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Admission is $3 for Kids 10 & Under and $5 for Adults. Skate rental is $10.

The Lehigh Valley Zoo (5150 Game Preserve Rd, Schnecksville, https://www.lvzoo.org/) is hosting its “Winter Light Spectacular” now through January 2.

This season’s “Winter Light Spectacular,” which runs from 5:30-10 p.m. nightly, will feature more than 30 scheduled event nights.

Guests are invited to bundle up and enjoy the beauty of nature as they stroll through tree-lined paths illuminated by more than 1.2 million twinkling lights and themed animated displays.

They also can warm up next to the cozy outdoor fire pits while enjoying hot cocoa and s’mores.

Children will be delighted when they encounter Santa, Radley the Sea Turtle, The Grinch, Woody, Buzz, Elsa, Princess Belle, Olaf and friends.

Ticket prices start at $8.

“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 3, 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 sing-alongs.

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 $35.99.

Anyone wanting to get into a Christmas mood in a big way can visit Koziar’s Christmas Village (782 Christmas Village Road, Bernville, 610-488-1110, www.koziarschristmasvillage.com) which began its 73rd season on November 7.

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).

With the pandemic situation changing from day to day, it is highly advisable to check with the venue or event’s website or, better yet, call first before you finalize any plans.

More importantly, maintain social distance, stay safe and WEAR A MASK.

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