What To do: Football? Love is in the air, too

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times 

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Next weekend, there will be a wide array of holiday events – many dealing with chocolate and wine.

The Chaddsford Winery (632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, 610-388-6221, http://www.chaddsford.com) is getting a jump on the rest with an event starting this weekend.

Every Saturday and Sunday through February 28, the Chaddsford Winery will present “Wine & Chocolate Pairings.”

Participants can visit the winery for an intimate and educational 90-minute experience in the newly renovated Barrel Room and treat themselves to a guided tasting of five Pennsylvania-made artisan pairings. 

The winery will be partnering with three local businesses including Éclat Chocolate, Birchrun Hills and Herman’s Coffee to provide an unparalleled experience highlighting some of the area’s best sweet and savory selections.

To provide a safe and comfortable event, only three sessions with a limited number of guests will be offered throughout the day at noon, 2 and 4 p.m. The winery’s masked staff will implement an enhanced cleaning schedule between sessions to ensure a sanitized facility and to provide seating that is spaced at least 6 feet apart from other customers.

The “Pairing Line Up” features 2018 Sparkling White, Éclat Lavender Truffle with 2019 Dry Rosé: Redux, Éclat Pear Caramel with 2019 Traminette, Birchrun Hills Blue Cheese and Éclat Dutch Pretzel Bar with 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, and Hermans Coffee YAAIMH Blend and Chocolate Beignet.

Tastings are $35 per person and offered only on Saturdays and Sundays. Advanced reservations are required and are non-refundable. Children and guests under 21 years old are not permitted to attend this program. Pairings are subject to change.

A trip to the winery could easily be paired with a visit to Longwood Gardens.

Longwood Gardens

A visit to Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) always offers welcome respite to the grey brutality of the winter season. This year’s special event is called “Winter Wonder.”

“Winter Wonder,” which is running now through 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).

Linvilla Orchards (137 West Knowlton Road, Media, 610-876-7116,www.linvilla.com) always throws its hat in the ring when it’s time to battle against winter.

Right now, Linvilla has restocked the shelves of its popular farm market, re-opened its miniature golf course “Fore! the Planet” and is welcoming adults to enjoy its Ship Bottom Brewery Beer Garden.

Linvilla Orchards has partnered with Ship Bottom Brewery to bring beers in the barn for patrons to enjoy on chilly winter evenings.

At Ship Bottom Brewery, every batch of beer is handcrafted. The brewery uses only the freshest ingredients — all of which are hand selected by the head brewer.

Ship Bottom Brewery’s handcrafted ale and lager recipes were created to maximize the complex flavors of malts and hops. Some of the ales will even be crafted with Linvilla’s own farm grown products.

Daytime fun includes Corn Hole and Giant Jenga along with other favorite annual Linvilla activities. In the evening, patrons can enjoy a pint under the stars and, weather permitting, sit around a toasty bonfire.

The Beer Garden is open Saturdays and Sundays from noon-5 p.m. each day. There will be fire pits and patio heaters. As an added attraction, a food truck will be onsite each day.

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 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).

January 16 also marked the opening of Linvilla Orchards Farm Market. It features fresh produce (with 50 per cent off all vegetables), baked goods and gourmet specialties — 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.

It’s hard to believe that the first month of 2021 is already in the books – and that the second First Friday of the year is today.

Lancaster’s popular First Friday (http://www.visitlancastercity.com/first-friday/) is an arts extravaganza that runs from 5-9 p.m. on February 5. Visitors to downtown Lancaster will have the opportunity to discover innovative exhibitions, performances and perhaps a few surprises as they walk the streets lined with trees and distinctive architecture.

Unique boutiques and excellent restaurants complement the art galleries, artisan studios, museums, performing groups, professional theater, symphony orchestra and art college that form Lancaster’s arts community.

In addition to the many galleries, shops, and pop-up musicians that regularly participate in First Friday, the following venues are hosting special events and showcases — Megan Zettlemoyer: Living Ink, Red Raven’s February Exhibit Featuring Stefanie Lieberman and Rachel Beltz, First Friday Shopping at Freiman Stoltzfus Gallery, First Friday with the Lancaster Chapter of PA Guild of Craftsmen, First Friday @ the Lancaster Science Factory, Valentine First Friday at Gallery on Market, and Protection – Mural honoring Black Women.

Old City Philadelphia

Another First Friday event this weekend will take place in Old City Philadelphia (230 Vine Street and locations throughout Old City Philadelphia, 215- 625-9200, www.oldcitydistrict.org).

On the first Friday of each month — year-round — Old City’s galleries, studios, shops and restaurants open their doors for First Friday, in an epic exhibition of the neighborhood’s vibrant arts scene.

Old City Arts Association launched First Friday in 1991 to introduce Philadelphia to the improving neighborhood and the artists and designers who were bringing it back to life. Two decades later, Old City is a nationally recognized arts destination, named in 2013 as one of the country’s top ArtPlaces by the ArtPlace Foundation.
On the first Friday evening of every month, the streets of Old City fill with art lovers of all kinds who wander among the neighborhood’s 40-plus galleries, most of which are open from 5-9 p.m.

Another attraction in the “Historic Philadelphia” area is welcoming visitors.

The Betsy Ross House (239 Arch Street, Philadelphia, http://historicphiladelphia.org/betsy-ross-house/what-to-see/) has reopened to the public.
The well-known and loved story of Betsy Ross sewing the first “Stars & Stripes” is tightly woven into the colorful fabric of America’s rich history. The Betsy Ross House, the birthplace of the American flag, is alive with the sights and sounds of the 18th century.

Visitors can tour the house and then stay a while longer to learn more about Betsy and her exciting life and times through the site’s interactive, historical programming.

The Betsy Ross House is located in Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood in the heart of the Historic District and steps away from Independence National Park.

Hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. 

The nearly 300-year-old narrow, winding stairs of the Betsy Ross House are not accessible to strollers, wheelchairs, walkers, or motorized scooters. For guests with mobility issues, the Museum offers a “first-floor tour”, which includes some walking and two steps up/down. The courtyard, including Betsy Ross’s grave and a seasonal medicinal herb garden, the museum store, and exhibition gallery are all accessible.

Admission for the self-guided tours is $5 for adults and $4 for children, seniors, military and students. 

The Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show at Franklin Square (Sixth and Race streets, Philadelphia, http://www.historicphiladelphia.org/) has concluded for the 2020-2021 season. Fortunately, the show’s 100,000 lights will remain lit through the end of February during the extended “Winter in Franklin Square.”

Franklin Square’s 180-year-old, historic centerpiece has been renovated and updated into a dynamic state-of-the-art Fountain Show featuring spectacular dancing water effects and colored lights choreographed to music. Visitors can enjoy free Fountain Show performances every 30 minutes on the hour and half hour from noon-9 p.m.

Additionally, playing outdoor mini-golf on the Chilly Philly Mini Golf course and taking rides on the Parx Liberty Carousel will also be available through February 28.

Admission to the light show is free. The cost to play Mini-golf is $10 for adults and $8 for children (ages 3-12) while carousel rides are $3 for children 3 and older and free for children 2 and under.

Grim Philly’s “Dark Philly History Tour” (www.grimphilly.com) will be held every Friday and Saturday night in February and March at 8 p.m. each evening. Beginning in April, the tour will be presented every evening.

Participants can walk with tour guides from the grounds of America’s first White House, Congress, and Liberty Bell to homes and sites of Hamilton, Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and more than 10 other Founding-Fathers. The surprising dirt of espionage, murder, sexual license and blackmail highlight the secrets of 1776 with a ghost story or two along the way. This tour is highly researched. And your guide is a historian.

Grim Philly will also be presenting “Serial Killers & Cemetery Tour” every Saturday at 2 p.m.

Participants will have the opportunity to experience unconventional sightseeing off the beaten path. They can enjoy Betsy Ross House, Christ Church, Elfreth’s Alley, and Benjamin Franklin’s Grave, together with tales of serial slayings and psychopathic killers like the Corpse Collector, Frankfort Slasher, and H.H. Holmes.

Ghost Tour of Philadelphia

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.

One of the best winter activities is a visit to a museum. It is warm, educational and fun.

A good place to start visiting museums is the Brandywine River Museum (Route 1, Chadds Ford 610-388-2700, www.brandywinemuseum.org).

The “Brandywine Railroad” display at the Brandywine River Museum, an annual event that is fun for the entire family, has been extended through February 28.

“Brandywine Railroad” 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, the exhibition, “Betsy James Wyeth: A Tribute,” will also be on display through February 28.

The Brandywine River Museum of Art

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.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art (2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, www.philamuseum.org) also came back to life in January.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art

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 at the start of the new year. It opened 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 Museum of the American Revolution (101 South Third Street, Philadelphia, www.amrevmuseum.org) reopened last month 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 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 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” 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.

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

Wonderspaces at the Fashion District (27 North 11th Street, Philadelphia, philadelphia.wonderspaces.com) is an experiential, interactive arts venue.

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 in Philly a year ago.

Wonderspaces features 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.

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.

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.

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.

Now through 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.

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

Elmo’s Furry Fun Fest will kick off on January 30 and run through March 21.

This new event series will offer guests brand new, limited capacity special events where they can celebrate everyone’s favorite red monster during Elmo’s Rockin’ Birthday Bash, treat little loves to a fun day during the My Fuzzy Valentine’s Celebration, let the good times roll during the park’s family-friendly Mardi Gras Celebration, grab cozy jammies to celebrate our favorite feathered friend’s birthday at Big Bird’s Pajama Party

Guests can enjoy these fun-filled, safe, and family-friendly events with everyone’s favorite Sesame Street® friends. Guests can ride the Count’s Fly By, Count’s Cruisers, and the Sunny Day Carousel during the event plus enjoy fun activities including Elmo’s Balloon Scavenger Hunt, a Furry Friends Dance Party, and a different themed character dining experience each weekend (additional charge and reservations are required). Plus, everyone’s favorite Neighborhood Birthday Party Parade will have everyone dancing and singing along with Elmo, Cookie Monster, Abby Cadabby, Count von Count, Bert, Ernie, Zoe, Rosita and Big Bird!

The event schedule is Elmo’s Rockin’ Birthday Bash on February 6 and 6, My Fuzzy Valentine’s Celebration from February 13-15, Mardi Gras Celebration on February 20, 21, 27 and 28, and Big Bird’s Pajama Party on March 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, and 21.

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

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

Devon Seafood and Steak and Houlihan’s Restaurant Bar in downtown Hershey, Cocoa Beanery on Research Boulevard, and restaurants at Hershey Lodge and The Hotel Hershey will feature chocolate martinis, decadent desserts, sweet treats and cocoa-infused savory dishes.

Adults are invited to join the experts at Hershey Lodge for Martini Mixology events on February 13 and 27. If wine is your preference, sign up for the Hershey Lodge Chocolate and Wine Demo on February 20.

Hershey Lodge will host two wine dinners in February – February 5 at Fire & Grain: Banfi Wines and February 26 at Revelry: Prisoner Wine Company.

The Hotel Hershey will host three wine and chocolate dinners at Harvest in February — February 11: Waltz Vineyards Estate Winery; February 18: 90+ Point-rated Wines; and February 25: Michael David Winery.

ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park will offer 50 per cent off admission every Friday in February as part of its Fantastic Fridays promotion. As an added attraction, many of the zoo’s animals are more active during the winter months.

Families will love visiting Hershey’s Chocolate World Attraction on weekends in February for Hershey Character appearances, double sample days and Hershey’s Workshop events.

The Chocolate Lab at The Hershey Story Museum will host its popular hands-on classes, both in the Lab and virtually.

The Butterfly Atrium at Hershey Gardens will feature the Chocolate Malachite butterfly, and kids can have fun searching for cocoa clues to identify chocolate-named garden elements in the Children’s Garden and Milton & Catherine Hershey Conservatory.

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