What To Do: Pea Soup Supper goes virtual for 2021

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times 

Pea Soup meal

Late January is usually a time when the calendar features welcome annual events such as the Kennett Chocolate Lovers Festival, STEMtastic Weekends at Hagley Museum, Motorsports Race Car & Trade Show at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, the classy elite car show at Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, special weekends for kids at the Garden State Discovery Museum in Cherry Hill, Chinese New Year celebrations at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and in Chinatown, the Lambertville-New Hope Winter Festival, the “Reading Fire + Ice Fest” in Berks County, “Murder Mystery Nights” at the Chaddsford Winery and the annual Pea Soup and Punsch Supper at the American Swedish Historical Museum in Philadelphia.

Unfortunately, none of them will be welcoming visitors this year because of COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns.

Fortunately, two of these events are still taking place (albeit in altered form) – the Chaddsford Winery’s murder mysteries and the taste treat at the Swedish Museum.

Bleak mid-winter days tend to make people cold and hungry. People in cold climates around the world are aware that a great way to get rid of the hunger and warm up is to sit down with a hot bowl of soup.

Sweden is definitely a cold-climate country with more than its share of bitter winter weather. As a result, the Swedish people are well aware of the nutritional and therapeutic benefits of hot soup.

In recognition of this, the American Swedish Historical Museum (1900 Pattison Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-389-1776, http://www.americanswedish.org) holds annual Pea Soup and Punsch Supper.

In normal times, visitors to the museum in South Philadelphia are invited to shake off the chill and warm up Swedish style with an evening of steamy soup and strong drink at the midwinter event, which is also known as “Ärtsoppa och Punschin Sweden.”

In previous years, participants broke bread together over a quintessential Swedish meal of pea soup and punsch, which is a sweet and strong Arrack liquor-based drink. Arrack, a strong Indian liquor, was imported from Java and became the base ingredient for making punsch, which has 25 per cent alcohol by volume and 30 per cent sugar.

This hearty meal, which also includes sharp cheese, bread and dessert, is inspired by a tradition that dates back to medieval times. On Thursday nights, the people of Sweden would eat this filling meal before beginning the weekly Friday fast.

For 2021, ASHM is presenting a “Virtual Pea Soup Dinner.”

This year, the Museum is offering a to-go Pea Soup dinner you can enjoy from your own home with an added virtual component to experience the camaraderie of an evening with new friends. The to-go dinner will be available for pick up from the Museum and participants will receive a link to join a communal Zoom dinner online. Swedish Ambassador, Karin Olofsdotter, will open the evening with a welcome address and then participants will be assigned to breakout rooms for a small group dining experience.

The dinner package includes one quart of Pea Soup, a wedge of Prästost XO Swedish cheese, a package of WASA Crispbread, spicy Swedish mustard, Swedish pancakes and lingonberry sauce. To-go dinner packages will be for two people and available for $35 for members and $40 for nonmembers. Additional quarts of soup may be purchased for $10.

Pre-registration is required. The to-go meal will be available for pick-up January 28 and 29 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and January 30 from noon-4 p.m.

Every Friday and Saturday through February 5, the Chaddsford Winery (632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, 610-388-6221, http://www.chaddsford.com) will present “Murder Mystery Nights.”

Because of COVID-19, the Chaddsford’s “Murder Mystery Nights” are going virtual in 2021.

Here’s what the winery posted on its website:

In an effort to get far, far away from life in 2020, we’re embarking on a wine-filled, time travel journey and hope you’ll join us.


This interactive event is part virtual wine tasting and part murder mystery.  Purchase an event pass online for $79/household (multiple people can participate per household) and we’ll ship you a package with program information, clues, Zoom login credentials, and a Wine 3-Pack that includes a bottle of 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, 2019 Dry Rose:Redux and 2017 Harbinger.

Sales close 10 days prior to the event and are limited to 40 households/session.

We encourage you have fun and get silly with this!  Get dressed up and make it a family event, or invite your quarantine pod over to join in the adventure.


You will need high-speed internet access as well as an operable microphone to participate.

Login to Zoom 10 minutes prior to start time to avoid technical difficulties. Be sure to have your wine, program, and clues handy!

Participants will be greeted with more details about Doc Vignoles and his time machine, while hearing from a number of characters and suspects.  As you receive more clues throughout the evening, there will be opportunities to taste and learn a bit more about each of the featured wines!

Participants will be able to interrogate the suspects and interact with one another during the program.  After all clues have been given, each household will submit their guesses on 1) the murderer, 2) the motive, and 3) the time period via private chat. Three correct answers will result in prizes!

Longwood Gardens

This weekend, Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) starts its new year with a new special event – “Winter Wonder.”

“Winter Wonder,” which runs from January 23-March 21, celebrates the beauty of winter. It’s all about outdoor spacious, indoor oasis, and the power of story.

Outside, visitors can find a sense of peace and tranquility as they walk past textural grasses, seed heads and the dramatic silhouettes of trees that stretch up into the sky.

Inside, they can bask in a world of warmth that features an overhead garden of hanging baskets adorned with such vibrant beauties as jasmine, cape-primrose, and lipstick-plant.

Visitors will be able to enjoy a paradise of flowers and foliage, bursting with color — all in a beautiful indoor winter wonderland with a tropical twist.

“Winter Wonder” exists on two levels.

Both outdoors and in, they can embark on a poignant journey with “Voices in the Landscape,” a series of 10 stops throughout the Gardens which can also be accessed virtually from home. In this sensory experience, participants will follow along as storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston honors and celebrates the strength, resilience, and contributions of the African American community through the lens of horticulture and the power of story.

Those taking the tour can hear an ancient Zulu creation myth paired with the oldest plant on Earth in the Conservatory; make their way to the Lookout Loft Treehouse and learn the story of the significance and symbolism of woods and meadows; and call out the name of an ancestor in remembrance at the Large Lake while a traditional spiritual soothes your soul.

Voices in the Landscape is an Accessible Experience.

The exhibition features a total of 10 audio experiences associated with specific locations throughout the Gardens, including seven outdoor stops and three stops in the Conservatory. The entire route is accessible without stairs and the length of the route, including the stops in the Conservatory, is about 1.5 miles.

“Voices in the Landscape” signage is at each stop. Each audio recording ranges between three and eight minutes in length. The estimated time to experience the entire Voices in the Landscape exhibit is approximately 1.5 to 2 hours.

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 $25 for adults, $22 for seniors (ages 62 and older) and college students, $18 for active military and veterans and $13 for youth (ages 5-18).

If you’re looking for a fun family activity – an indoor activity unaffected by the weather — Linvilla Orchards (137 West Knowlton Road, Media, 610-876-7116,www.linvilla.com) has something just for you — the miniature golf course “Fore! the Planet.”

Linvilla Orchard’s “Fore! The Planet,” which opened for the year on January 16, is a highly interactive and playful museum exhibit created by the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. This exhibition pairs important environmental issues with the fun of miniature golf.

It features 18 unique educational holes on a variety of topics — butterfly metamorphosis, a tropical rainforest, evolution, dinosaur extinction, food chains and more. Kids of all ages can enjoy playing miniature golf while learning about our environment on every hole.

The first hole is “Butterfly Life Cycle,” and players must putt through each stage of the colorful insect’s metamorphosis. The next five holes are titled “Seed Dispersal,” “Bat Sonar,” “Food Chain,” “Evolution of a Golfer” and “Backyard Explorer” followed by “Natural Selection” and “Predators and Prey.”

On the “Dinosaur Extinction” hole, players get to hit their balls toward the scientific theory of dinosaur extinction they find most plausible. The remainder of the thought-provoking holes are “Recycling,” “Water Pollution,” “Landfills,” “Wild Corridors,” “Bird Migration,” “Spawning Salmon,” “Alien Species,” “Population Threats” and “Rainforest Threats.”

The mini-course is open daily from 9 a.m. -5 p.m. Tickets are $9 (ages 11 and over) and $10 (ages 10 and under).

Linvilla Orchards Farm Market

January 16 also marks the opening of Linvilla Orchards Farm Market. It features fresh produce, baked goods and gourmet specialties throughout the year — including seasonally homegrown and locally sourced fruits and vegetables.

The bakery opened in the 1960s with the farm market’s famous freshly baked pies. Over the years, the menu has been expanded to include breads, cakes, hors d’oeuvres, apple cider doughnuts and more.

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.

From January 26-February 24, Sesame Place is presenting its all-new 40th Birthday Drive-Thru.

Visitors will feel like the guest of honor as they make their way through the bright and colorful birthday scenes, listen to energetic tracks from the popular Neighborhood Birthday Party Parade, and wave to Sesame Street friends dressed in their birthday best.

Anticipation builds as visitors make their way through a maze of whimsical birthday lights and venture through an illuminated cake of frosted fun. As guests make their way into the park, they will be greeted by even more Sesame Street friends in festive attire atop their birthday-themed floats.

Face coverings are required at transaction points (admission, merchandise, and culinary) during your experience.

Tickets for Sesame Place’s “40th Birthday Drive-Thru” are $35 per carload.

The Colebrookdale Railroad (South Washington Street, Boyertown, www.colebrookdalerailroad.com)  is running its “Snowflake Specials” excursions on January 23, 24, 30 and 31.

The Edwardian splendor of the Secret Valley Express will surely impress as the excursion train travels into the valley of our forgotten land. Passengers can observe winter (and maybe even snowflakes on a cold, clear winter’s afternoon) in the warmth of the rail line’s coaches as the train winds its way through the Secret Valley.

The two-hour round trip departing and arriving in Boyertown, Pennsylvania includes a la carte menu items for purchase. All excursions depart at noon.

Tickets are $55 for adults, $52 for seniors, $45 for children (ages 2-12) and 15 for toddlers (under 2). First Class tickets are also available for adults and seniors at $65 and include complimentary adult beverage, light hors d’oeuvres and dessert.

The tourist rail line will also be running “Valentine’s Trains” from February 12-14.

A year ago almost to the day, Wonderspaces, an experiential, interactive arts venue, celebrated the grand opening of its largest location to date this weekend in Philadelphia at the Fashion District (27 North 11th Street, Philadelphia, philadelphia.wonderspaces.com/).

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


Wonderspaces featured 14 art installations that all play with the idea of perspective.  The artwork ranges from award-winning virtual reality short film about a dinner party-turned-alien abduction, to a room where visitors digitally paint the walls with the movement of their bodies.

When the pandemic hit, Philadelphia clamped down and forced all museums to close. Restrictions have been eased for now and museums have been re-opening throughout the month. Wonderspaces is throwing its doors open on January 22.

New artworks rotate in every few months, creating an ever-evolving, year-round show.

Tickets are for entry at a specific date and time. Visitors are welcome to stay as long as they please during operating hours. The average time spent experiencing the show is 90 minutes.

Tickets are non-transferable and non-refundable and only valid on the date and time of the ticket. Purchasing tickets online in advance is highly recommended as many entry times sell out.

Tickets purchased online will be emailed or texted to you. Please have your ticket downloaded on your smartphone or printed out in advance. The last entrance time is 90 minutes before closing.

A few installations contain flashing lights, images, and patterns that may trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy. All visitors must sign a waiver prior to being admitted into the space. Adult supervision is required for visitors under 16.

Options for mid-winter activities are limited.

Very few special events have survived the pandemic. Outdoor activities are also limited -– because of shutdowns and/or brutal weather.

Thankfully, museums are springing back to life.

The Museum of the American Revolution

The Museum of the American Revolution (101 South Third Street, Philadelphia, www.amrevmuseum.org) reopened two weeks ago after a long closure because of the COVID-19 shutdown in Philly.

Visitors can take a deeper dive into untold stories of the Revolution with the Museum’s new Finding Freedom digital interactive, which explores the stories of enslaved people of African descent who followed different paths to freedom during the Revolutionary War.

Admission to the Museum is Adults, $21; Youth (6-17), $13; Children (5 and under), free; Seniors (65 and up), Students & Teachers, and Military, $18.

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University (1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, www.ansp.org) reopened on January 8 with a new exhibition and the continuation of a wildlife photography exhibit.

The Academy’s new exhibit – “Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs” – shows the species that predated dinosaurs. 

Visitors to the museum can step back in time 290 million years to when bizarre-looking creatures dominated life on land and sea, and dinosaurs had not yet evolved. They can also learn about the most devastating mass extinction the world has ever seen when “Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs” takes up a year-long residence at the Academy. 

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

The exhibit blends vivid artwork, amazing fossils and full-size scientifically accurate models of moving beasts to recreate this relatively unknown period that ended with the most devastating extinction of life. Visitors will explore odd-looking sharks, strange reptilelike precursors of mammals, a vicious giant saber-toothed gorgonopsid, and other extinct creatures that ruled the world millions of years before the dinosaurs.

“Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs,” which was developed by Gondwana Studios, Tasmania, Australia, features a collection of new vivid artwork created through the vision of award-winning paleo-artist Julius Csotonyi. Visitors will see casts of fossilized skeletons, scientifically accurate 3D sculptures, and full-size beasts including seven that move with animatronics.

“Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs” will be on view through January 17, 2022.  “Wildlife Photographer of the Year,” which is located in the museum’s new natural-light-filled gallery, will be on view through February 15.

The museum’s new hours are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a members-only hour from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. each day. In addition, the Academy will be open on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 18, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a members-only hour from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Admission is $22 for adults, $19 for seniors and $18 for children (ages 2-12).

The Philadelphia Museum of Art (2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, www.philamuseum.org) also reopened on January 8 with new hours.

The museum posted this message on its website:

“The Art Has Missed You—And So Have We.

Our iconic main building will reopen to the public on Friday, January 8, with new hours following its recent temporary closure mandated by state and city officials to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The museum will be open Friday through Monday. Advance reservations are strongly recommended. Tickets are available for each half-hour time slot, up to two weeks in advance of today’s date, with new tickets released every Tuesday.”

The museum now will be open from 10 a.m.-8:45 p.m. on Fridays and from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. It will be closed from Tuesday-Thursday each week.

Some of the featured exhibits are “Expanded Painting in the 1960s and 1970s,” “Art of Care,” “Fault Lines: Contemporary Abstraction by Artists from South Asia,” “Horace Pippin: From War to Peace,” “The Gross Clinic” by Thomas Eakins,” “Kōgei: Art Craft Japan,” “Baroque: The Art of Drama” and “Ghosts and Fragments.”

Admission is $25 for adults, $23 for seniors, $14 for students and free for Youths (18 and under).

The Barnes Museum (2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, www.barnesfoundation.org) is another Philly museum that had its resurrection on January 8 with “Elijah Pierce’s America” as the featured exhibition.

“Elijah Pierce’s America” presents the exceptional work of self-taught woodcarver Elijah Pierce (1892–1984), known best for a tour-de-force volume of biblical scenes. His carvings depict remarkable narratives — religious parables, autobiographical scenes, episodes from American politics — and sometimes include figures from popular culture and sports.

Admission is $25 for adults, $23 for seniors and $5 for youth.

The Penn Museum (3260 South Street, Philadelphia, www.penn.museum) is presenting exhibitions for live visitors and in virtual format for those who prefer to stay home.

Some of the museum’s featured exhibits are “Living with the Sea – Charting the Pacific,” “The Artifact Lab,” “Community Spotlight,” “Invisible Beauty – The Art of Archaeological Science,” and “Ancient Egypt.”

There are also a variety of specialized galleries devoted to Egypt, Greece, Africa, Mexico & Central America, Sphinx, Native America Voices, Asia, Rome, Canaan & Ancient Israel, Middle East and Etruscan.

Admission is $18 for adults, $16 for seniors and $13 for children (ages 6-12).

The Franklin Institute (222 North 20th Street, Philadelphia, www.fi.edu) is up and running again.

The museum’s posted this message on its website:

“Our world has changed, but our mission and purpose have not. We’ve reopened with a modified museum experience designed to celebrate science in a safe and welcoming environment—and we’re excited to see you!
Advance tickets are required for all guests — including Members — with no online fees.
New Hours: Wednesday-Friday 10am-5pm; Saturday & Sunday 10am-6pm; closed Mondays & Tuesdays
Face coverings and no-touch temperature checks required for everyone ages 3 and up
Enhanced daily cleaning protocols, lots of hand sanitization stations, reduced capacity, and streamlined spaces for ease of movement.”

Admission is $23 for adults, $21 for seniors and $19 for children.

Neon Museum of Philadelphia (800 North American Street, Philadelphia, neonmuseumofphiladelphia.com) celebrated its “Virtual Grand Opening” on January 15.

The Neon Museum of Philadelphia is dedicated to preserving historic signage as an important element of community heritage in Philadelphia and America. The Museum also promotes neon art and appreciation of the 20th century American roadside.

The Museum’s signs are a window into pre-Internet America — communities built on mom-and-pop businesses, blue collar skills, kids playing in streets, and face-to-face interaction.

The venue’s physical grand opening will follow later in 2021. In between, the Museum is launching virtual programs — demonstrations, conversations, art, and performances.

When the Museum physically opens to the public, there will be an array of changing art exhibits and events: presentations on Philly commercial and neighborhood history, a daily video program, a library, lounge, and museum shop.

Letting go is not always easy –- as entries into history books for January 2021 will show.

Amazingly, some people are still in Christmas celebration mode.

Think I’m kidding – just drive through suburban area neighborhoods and you’ll find houses with lighted Christmas decorations still on display (with a week remaining in January).

Even more amazingly, there are still Christmas-related events on the local calendar for this weekend.

“Holiday Magic at Brandywine” has been extended through January 31 at the Brandywine River Museum (Route 1, Chadds Ford 610-388-2700, www.brandywinemuseum.org). It is an annual event that is fun for the entire family.

“Holiday Magic at Brandywine” 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.

In addition to the Brandywine Railroad, this year’s holiday offerings include the return of artist and composer Ann Wyeth McCoy’s dollhouse, which features six rooms filled with three-dozen dolls and hundreds of miniature objects that will delight visitors of all ages.

Additionally, the exhibition, “Betsy James Wyeth: A Tribute,” will be on display through January 31.

The Brandywine River Museum of Art pays tribute to Betsy James Wyeth (1921-2020) with a display of drawings and paintings of and about her in the Andrew Wyeth Gallery, and with a biography of her remarkable life presented in the first-floor lobby of the Museum.

Betsy Wyeth was her husband Andrew Wyeth’s business manager and curator, with great precision recording the details of every work completed by the artist and encouraging and propelling him to achieve throughout his career. The artist painted his wife many times over the course of their almost seven-decade marriage. The selection of 20 works shown here are both intimate and enigmatic, capturing her elegance while also communicating a sense of elusiveness that the artist was so adept at conveying.

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

A popular Bucks County Christmas 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 30.

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

“Grim Philly’s Nightmare Before Christmas Tavern Tour (www.grimphilly.com) will be held January 15, 22 and 29.

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

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

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

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

Grim Philly will also be presenting an array of tours regularly through the winter months including “Dark Philly Adult Night Tour,” “Serial Killers & Cemetery Tour,” “Witches and Ghosts Tour,” and “Voodoo Magick Valentine.”

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

The Ghost Tour of Philadelphia, which is based on the book, “Ghost Stories of Philadelphia, PA.,” is a candlelight walking tour along the back streets and secret gardens of Independence Park, Society Hill, and Old City, where ghostly spirits, haunted houses, and eerie graveyards abound.

Participants can discover the ghost lore of America’s most historic and most haunted city with stories from the founding of William Penn’s colony to present-day hauntings.

The activity is open year-round – weekends, December-February; every night, March-November. Tickets are $24.

The Ghost Tour of Lancaster and the Ghost Tour of Strasburg are based on the book, “Ghost Stories of Lancaster, PA.”

Participants in the Ghost Tour of Lancaster explore the long-forgotten mysteries of one of America’s oldest cities, with haunting tales of otherworldly vigils, fatal curses, and star-crossed lovers. The tour provides the opportunity to experience 300 years of haunted history from the Red Rose City’s thorny past. Tickets are $18.

The Ghost Tour of Strasburg is a candlelight walking tour of the quaint and historic town of Strasburg in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Visitors will experience an entertaining evening with a costumed tour guide spinning tales of haunted mansions, eerie graveyards, and spirits that roam the night … in a town lost in time. Tickets are $18.

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