What To Do: First First Friday is loaded with activities

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

A work by artists Doug Elliot as part of Snowy Days

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

The first Friday of the month is a good time to spend an evening in Kennett Square or Lancaster – a time to enjoy special First Friday activities.

Kennett Square will celebrate First Friday with its Art Stroll (downtown Kennett Square, http://historickennettsquare.com) from 6-9 p.m. on January 5.

The event celebrates the local art scene with special activities in the galleries, shops and restaurants throughout town.  Many of the town’s businesses and galleries will stay open late for First Friday.

Kennett Square’s Art Stroll is a monthly celebration of the local art scene as it is showcased in the galleries, shops and restaurants throughout town.  Residents and visitors alike are encouraged to wander along the tree-lined streets and browse the many businesses that stay open late.

Square Pear (200 East State Street, Kennett Square) will host an opening reception for its new show “Snowy Days” featuring the artwork of Mary A. Gordon, Portia Mortensen, Douglas Elliott, David Eldreth, Rachel Altschuler, Lidia Kohutiak, Madeleine Kelly, Barbara Grant, Kathryn E. Noska and Jack Hanson.

Lancaster also has a lively First Friday celebration every month. This month’s edition of First Friday Lancaster (https://visitlancastercity.com/first-friday) will run from 5-9 p.m. on January 4 in downtown Lancaster.

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.

Every Friday and Saturday in January, the Chaddsford Winery (632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, 610-388-6221, http://www.chaddsford.com) will present “Wild West Murder Mystery Nights” from 6:30-9 p.m. each night.

Here is the scenario as posted by the winery – “There’s been a swashbuckling murder aboard The Presage. We’re settin’ out to find that scallywag, and when we do — they’re gonna walk the plank! There are two ways you can help us crack the case — uncover clues to pinpoint the murderer and motive or locate the hidden treasure. Along with a salty evening of mystery and suspense, you’ll enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres and, of course, a booty of Pennsylvania wine. Share this killer experience with your best mates – and don’t forget to dress the part in your torn and tattered pirate threads.”

Along with an exciting evening of mystery and suspense, visitors can enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres and an array of Chaddsford Winery wines.

The “Menu and Pairing Lineup” features Captain Hook’s Charcuterie Board with Specialty Meats and Cheeses with ’17 Sauvignon Blanc, ’16 Harbinger, and Sangri-la Sangria; Bourbon Glazed Chicken Wings with ’16 The Red Standard and Sunset Blush; Red Beard’s Risotto Rice Balls with Roasted Red Pepper, Asiago, and Fresh Basil with ’16 Pinot Grigio and ’16 Traminette; Caribbean Coconut Shrimp Tacos topped with Coconut Chili Aioli and Caribbean Salsa with ’17 Presage and Chaddsford White; Main Deck Crabby Mac & Cheese with Fresh Lump Crab Meat with ’15 Artisan Series ‘sur lie’ Chardonnay; and Toasted Coconut Cream Parfait & Chocolate Cake with White Chocolate Ganache and Rum-Soaked Raspberries with Warm Spiced Apple

Tickets are $60, and reservations are required.

Penns Wood Winery

The “Wine, Cheese & Honey Pairings at Penns Woods” at Penns Wood Winery (124 Beaver Valley Road, Chadds Ford, 610-459-0808, http://www.pennswoodsevents.com) provide a nice way for visitors to enjoy a winter weekend day.

Penns Woods Winery is joining forces with local cheese makers and local honey artisans to present exclusive pairings of wine, cheese and honey. The tastings will feature five premium Penns Woods wines, each paired with various cheeses and honey from local farms.

The mouth-watering tastings will be held every weekend in January from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sundays. As an added attraction, live music will be featured on January 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27 from 2-5 p.m. each day.

Tickets cost $28 per person in advance and reservations are required. Cancellations must be made within 72 hours or ticket holders will be charged the full amount of the tasting. Reservations are made and kept on the hour.

Greek Food Festival

This weekend, it’s time for the Greek Food Festival at Artisan Exchange Indoor Market (208 Carter Drive, West Chester, www.artisanexchange.net).

Phyllodelphia Greek & Mediterranean is teaming up with Kastania Olive Oil to provide a Greek Lunch at the Artisan Exchange Market. The free event will be held January 5 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Some of the menu highlights are hummus, tzatziki, pastitsio, moussaka, baklava, and filled phyllo triangles — Spanakopita (Spinach and Feta Cheese), Sausage and Cheese, and Buffalo Chicken.

The roster of other artisans who will be bet up at the market this weekend includes Anastasia Patricia’s Hand Crafted Cheesecakes, BrendAmore, Buenos Aires Empanada Bar, Cheryl’s Southern Style LLC- Manufacturer/ Catering, Cook Awesome Food, Flavors of Jalisco Catering, Golden Valley Farms Coffee Roasters, Heart of the Kitchen, Heavenly Sweet Chocolates, Honey & Rose Bakery, iSwich Gourmet, MacDougall’s Irish Victory Cakes, Mediterra, MoJo’s Pop Co., Peachala’s , Pure Scents Soy Candle Company, Sallamin Foods International, Sunsobo, Sweet Lana’s Vegan Express, Superfoods, Strattons Wynnorr Farm, and Taika.

If you’re a handyman and are interested in repairing, refurbishing or upgrading your home, then plan a visit to the Greater Philadelphia Spring Home Show this weekend at the Valley Forge Casino Resort (1160 First Avenue, King of Prussia, 888-433-3976, www.acshomeshow.com).

The annual show, which is produced by American Consumer Shows, will open on January 4 and continue through January 6. Hours are from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.-6p.m. on Sunday. The event features free admission and parking.

The event is geared for homeowners in all stages of remodeling, landscaping and decorating their homes. Visitors to the show will be able to check out new products and receive expert advice from professionals. The show’s “Kitchen Showcase” features the latest styles and trends installed by knowledgeable, professional, local contractors.

At the popular annual event, homeowners will find a wide array of ideas and inspiration for enhancing their home’s functionality, aesthetic appeal, comfort and overall value. The show offers hundreds of exhibits featuring product demonstrations, sample displays of interior and exterior vignettes and a wide variety of related merchandise.

There will be exhibitors representing a huge range of categories, including architects, masonry, lighting, painting, roofing, floors, air conditioning, lighting, home theaters, financing, appliances, plumbing, heating, paving, waterproofing, siding and even spas.

Three Kings Day

The Kimmel Center (Broad and Spruce streets, Philadelphia, 215-731-3333, www.kimmelcenter.org) is teaming up with the Consulate of Mexico and the Mexican Cultural Center to present a special “Three Kings Day” celebration on January 6 at 5 p.m.

Together, they are offering an invitation to partake in one of the most widely-celebrated holidays among Hispanics and Latinos – to join in a reenactment of the story of the Three Wise Men.

Visitors to this free event will be able to enjoy an evening of activities, piñatas and a piece of traditional “Rosca de Reyes” bread, which will be the largest one ever made in Philadelphia.

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 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 in the cake goes back centuries. The baby Jesus hidden in the bread represents the flight of the Holy Family, fleeing 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.

On January 4 from 3-5 p.m., there will also be a free “Three Kings Day Celebration” at Taller Puertorriqueño (2557 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia, 215-423-6320, tallerpr.org).

The celebration will feature a musical procession filled with song and merriment. After the performance, children will receive gifts in tradition of the holiday. In keeping with the tradition, the children must bring a small box with grass. Because this activity is for children, the child must be present to receive the gift.

January 6 is a special day in the Latin world – not just Mexico. It is the height of Christmas season when the three Magi — Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar — parade into town bearing gifts for the children.  Taller Puertorriqueño’s El Día de Reyes comes to el Barrio on January 5 with live music, gift giving, and a parade. It is mandatory that children pre-register.

Philadelphia Loves Bowie Week” (https://phillylovesbowie.wordpress.com/) is back for its third season

From January 4-13, Philadelphia once again shows its love for David Bowie night after night after glorious night. More than a dozen activities will be happening across the city to celebrate and remember a man who changed the world.

There has always been a connection between Bowie and Philadelphia because Philly embraced him from the very first tour. Ziggy Stardust’s shows at the Tower Theater sold out in record time.

Bowie recorded three albums – “David Live,” “Young Americans,” and “Stage” and filmed the video for “Modern Love” in the City of Brotherly Love.

The organizers of “Philadelphia Loves Bowie Week” also use this week as a portal to raise awareness and funds to help benefit cancer research in Bowie’s memory — to benefit the children at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

On January 4 and 5, the Lancaster County Park Environmental Center (1 Nature’s Way, Lancaster, https://apm.activecommunities.com/LancasterCountyParks, 717-295-2055) will present a special program titled “Animal Survival During Winter.”

Visitors to the site will be able to join Naturalist Lisa J. Sanchez to learn how animals survive the harsh conditions of winter.

After a brief PowerPoint presentation, participants will explore Lancaster County Central Park trails and look for signs of wildlife and winter food sources.

Attendees are urged to dress for the weather — and to wear comfortable walking shoes.

The event will run from 10-11:30 a.m. each day. Tickets are $2.

On January 6, Norristown Farm Park (2500 Upper Farm Rd, Norristown, 610-270-0215, https://www.montcopa.org/874/Norristown-Farm-Park)

will host an event called “The Owls of Pennsylvania” at 2 p.m.

At this informative indoor program, visitors will be able to learn what makes owls unique among raptors.

An educator from Elmwood Park Zoo will bring a Great-horned owl. This is a great way to see a wild owl at close range.

Suggested donation is $3 per person.

Auburn Valley State Park

On January 4, Auburn Valley State Park (3000 Creek Road, Yorklyn, Delaware, www.destateparks.com/History/AuburnValley) will host an “Open House Tour” starting at 1 p.m.

Visitors to the park will be able to tour the Auburn Heights Mansion. The mansion is the former home of the Marshall family and is furnished with original family furniture. The tour includes the two main floors of the mansion.

Please note that there are steps to get into the mansion and one flight of stairs during the tour. The tour lasts approximately 45 minutes. Reservations recommended, but not required.

Tickets for the tour are $8 for adults and $4 for children (under 13).

The park will also host one of its Estate Walks beginning at 11 a.m.

Participants will have the opportunity to learn more about Auburn Heights while enjoying the beautiful grounds. WQearing comfortable shoes is advised for the free event.

For those of you who hate to say goodbye to the holiday season, you’re in luck because there is one more holiday weekend on the calendars of sites around the area.

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) is presenting “A Longwood Christmas” through January 6. The program 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).

“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 “Terrific Trains Family Program” on January 5.

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

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 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).

Several of Montgomery County’s scenic historic sites are festively celebrating this year’s 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.

Pennypacker Mills is 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.

Peddler’s Village (Routes 202 and 263, Lahaska, 215-794-4000, http://peddlersvillage.com) started its holiday celebrations in November and will wrap them up this weekend.

November 18 marked the start of Peddler’s Village “Gingerbread House Competition and Display” started on November 16 and is set to conclude on 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 Gingerbread Competition & Display is a feast for the eyes with more than 50 creative and whimsical entries on exhibit in the Village Gazebo. Admission is free.

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 6.

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.

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