What To Do: A holiday season like no other gets under way

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By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times 

Longwood Gardens

The number of days left in the countdown to Thanksgiving 2020 is in single digits. We all know that Thanksgiving is the traditional “unofficial” start of the Christmas holiday season – even though the season commercially “started” when Christmas items were being stocked on stores’ shelves on Labor Day Weekend and “Black Friday” arrived in early November.

Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) has shifted into holiday mode with the arrival of “A Longwood Christmas.”

The festive holiday display at Longwood Gardens, which is running now through January 5, 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.

Visitors are instructed to honor the new visiting guidelines the venue has created in accordance with state and local regulations. Some of the key guidelines are:

Advance Timed Tickets and Member reservations required. Advance Timed Tickets and free timed Member reservations (except Gardens Premium Members) are required every day from open to close.

Availability. Check our homepage for real-time ticketing availability. Tickets are limited and sell out is likely. Please note we cannot accommodate Members or guests without tickets when we are sold out.

Book online. Make Member reservations and purchase Timed Admission Tickets online or via phone before your visit. On-site ticketing is not available.

Know updated travel restrictions. The PA Governor has released updated travel restrictions. While Longwood will not require proof of a negative COVID test, we expect that all members of your party are being responsible to ensure they are in compliance. We are happy to refund your tickets prior to your visit if this is not possible.

Honor our visiting guidelines. You will receive an email prior to your visit that details our visiting guidelines.

Wear a mask. Face masks are required (ages 2 and older) in both indoor and outdoor public spaces, unless individuals are outside and can constantly maintain six feet from individuals who are not members in their household. Please stay home if you are sick or symptomatic.

Make room for others. Please do your part and maintain a 6-foot distance from other guests.

Mind the signs. Look for the circles and arrows throughout the Gardens for one-way and narrow paths, and to see what amenities are available.

Practice good hygiene. Use our hand sanitizing stations placed throughout our Gardens, including the Visitor Center, Conservatory Green Wall, Conservatory Lower Reception Suite, and Beer Garden.

Start your visit together. All guests included in your party must enter the admissions queue together; please do not enter the line until all members of your party are present. The Visitor Center lobby is not available for waiting for other members of your party.

Arrive on time. 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).

Holiday Magic at Brandywine

“Holiday Magic at Brandywine”, which was formerly known as “A Brandywine Christmas,” is running now through January 10 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.

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.

The well-attended annual “Critter Sale” is scheduled for December 2-6.

“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.

Slightly modified this year to provide a safe and socially distant experience, the Brandywine Railroad will still feature plenty of trains, miniature details and the engaging elements that everyone loves—including interactive components operated by hands-free foot pedals.

The Brandywine’s famous O-gauge display will feature model trains running on a thousand feet of track through a small village, a drive-in movie theater and even a carnival. This year the Brandywine also welcomes the exciting new additions of two model train sets with layouts once owned by Nicky and Jamie Wyeth—sons of the renowned American artist, Andrew Wyeth.

Nicky Wyeth’s standard gauge train display features historic “tinplate” Lionel trains from the 1920s and 30s traveling around colorful buildings and scenery, including a large bridge modeled after New York’s Hell Gate Bridge. The 8 x 12-foot display was also recently enhanced with modern reproductions of a 1940s monorail.

Artist Jamie Wyeth’s N-gauge train display was originally co-owned by Jamie and his friend and fellow toy collector, artist Andy Warhol. Included in the 4 x 6 foot landscape are foothills of a mountain, train tunnels with a bridge crossing a lake, and even a diminutive industrial town with a main street packed with businesses and rowhouses, a steel mill, and a large metal warehouse featuring an oversized reproduction of Wyeth’s own iconic painting, Portrait of Pig.

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.

Another popular attraction is “The Polar Express Virtual Read-Aloud,” which is scheduled for December 3.

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

There is something special about riding on a train that is being pulled by a steam or diesel locomotive. Almost everyone enjoys the experience — even Santa Claus. This year, Santa will be visiting several of the area’s tourist railroads to take special rides with his friends.

West Chester Railroad

One of the best train rides with Santa Claus is the one presented by the West Chester Railroad (Market Street Station, West Chester, 610-430-2233 or www.westchesterrr.net).

The special “Santa’s Express” trains (which feature heated cars decorated for the holidays) will run on November 21, 22, 27, 28 and 29 and December 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20 at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. There will be additional departures at 5 p.m. on December 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20.

The 75-minute journey on the trail line’s heated decorated train travels through the Chester Creek Valley. Santa Claus will be greeting everyone at Market Street Station and then going along for the ride to Glen Mills.

Live music will be provided by Greg Wright.

Adult fare for the West Chester Railroad trips is $30. Tickets for children (ages 2-12) are $20 while toddlers (ages 9-23 months) get to ride for $8.

Additionally, West Chester Railroad is again hosting its popular “Christmas Tree Train” this holiday season on November 29 and 29 and December 6 and 13.

The rail line has partnered with Wiggins Tree Farm in West Chester. The train will depart Market Street Station at 8 a.m. Once on board, passengers will enjoy coffee, hot chocolate, and donuts.

The train will arrive at Wiggins at approximately 8:30 a.m. where passengers will disembark to choose and cut down a Christmas tree (hand saws will be supplied). Once a tree is picked, it will be banded up, tagged, and placed on our flat car. At 9:45 a.m., passengers will then board the train and be brought back to West Chester where the trees will be offloaded from the train.

The trip is approximately two and seating is very limited so please order soon. All trees have the special price of $60 for all Tree Train ticket holders. The price of the tree is not included in the price of your ticket.

The Wilmington & Western Railroad (2201 Newport Gap Pike, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-998-193, www.wwrr.com) will run its “Santa Claus Express” on Saturdays and Sundays between Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as November 27 and December 23.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be riding along with passengers on the steam-powered 90-minute round trip to Ashland Station. They will be greeting everyone on board and offering chocolate treats to the youngsters. Santa will also be posing for pictures with his fans.

Steam locomotion will return to the Wilmington & Western for its annual Santa Claus Express. The rail line’s 0-6-0 switcher No. 58 has returned to service after a multi-year restoration and will power some of Santa’s trains through the Red Clay Valley this season.

Due to State of Delaware requirements, the railroad must maintain fresh airflow through the train. Although the train will be heated, doors and windows on the train will be open for November and December excursions. As a result, passengers are encouraged to dress warmly (or in layers) for this excursion.

Tickets for these trains, which run now through December 23, are $21 for adults, $19 for senior citizens and $18 for children.

The tourist rail line will also be running special “Holiday Night Express Trains,” featuring a peaceful evening ride. Tickets for these trains, which are running now through December 30, are $16 for adults, $15 for senior citizens and $14 for children.

The Strasburg Rail Road (Route 741, Strasburg, 717-687-7522, www.strasburgrailroad.com) is running its “Santa’s Paradise Express” now through December 20. Santa will be the featured guest on each ride from Strasburg to Paradise and back.

The rotund guy in the red suit will be greeting passengers, shaking hands, posing for photos and giving a treat to each child. After the train ride, children are treated to storybook readings of holiday classics. Visitors of all ages can also enjoy a ride aboard the Tinsel Trolley, a self-propelled motor car.

Tickets are $21 for adults, $15 for children (ages 2-11) and $4 for infants.

The Strasburg Railroad will also be running its “Night Before Christmas Train” on December 4, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23.

This very special train recreates the excitement and anticipation of Christmas Eve. A reader dressed in a Victorian nightshirt and cap will read Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem “The Night Before Christmas” as the train rolls along. After the poem is read, passengers can enjoy a treat of milk and cookies.

Tickets for the “Night Before Christmas Train” are $21 for adults, $15 for children (ages 3-11) and $4 for toddlers (under age 3).

Children are also treated to storybook readings of holiday classics aboard the stationary heated caboose and visitors of all ages can enjoy a ride aboard “Santa’s Christmas Trolley,” a self-propelled motor car.

Trolley rides are offered on December 4, 11, 18, 21, 22 and 23. All tickets are $30.

The New Hope & Ivyland Railroad (32 Bridge Street, New Hope, 215-862-2332, www.newhoperailroad.com) is operating its “North Pole Express” now through December 30. Tickets start at $55.99 for adults, $45.99 for children (ages 3-11) and $14.99 for infants (ages 0-2).

Passengers can ride the rails with Santa, Mrs. Claus and a group of holiday revelers. Children and adults of all ages can sip hot cocoa and enjoy cookies while Santa visits with each child and presents them with a special gift. Local musicians will be on board to play and sing Christmas carols.

There will also be the rail line’s “Santa Steam Spectacular” excursions running from November 29 until December 24.

Guests are invited to welcome the return of the historic #40 steam engine by joining Santa and Mrs. Claus for a ride upon their magical Steam Train adventure through the historic Bucks County countryside. This Santa Steam Spectacular departs New Hope Station for a round trip to the North Pole.

Tickets start at $69.99 for adults, $59.99 for children (ages 3-11) and $15.99 for infants (ages 0-2).

The Colebrookdale Railroad (South Washington Street, Boyertown, www.colebrookdalerailroad.com)  is running its “Santa’s Polar Bear Express” from November 21-December 20.

Kids can join Santa on a magical adventure into “Christmas Past” on an exciting train journey. They will be able to sip complimentary hot cocoa or enjoy Christmas cookies and, on some trains, sing favorite carols as the Secret Valley passes by the window. Santa will bring a gift for every child, and every child has an opportunity to give their Christmas letter to him.

The rail line also is running “Twas the Night Before Christmas” excursions from November 21-December 20.

These special evening trains bring the storybook magic of the season to life. Kids are invited to wear pajamas and sip complimentary hot cocoa as the train crew reads “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Rumor has it Santa himself will appear with a gift for every child.

Tickets for the “Polar Express” or the “Night Before Christmas” excursions are $65 for adults, $45 for children (2-12), $62 for seniors and $15 for toddlers (under 2).

Christmas trains also come in a smaller variety. Model railroad displays and the Christmas holiday season have been linked together since a time before even your parents were even kids.

The Morris Arboretum

The Morris Arboretum (100 Northwestern Avenue, Chestnut Hill, 215-247-5777, http://www.morrisarboretum.org) will open its popular Garden Railway Display next weekend and keep it running through December 31.

The display and buildings are all made of natural materials – bark, leaves, twigs, hollow logs, mosses, acorns, dried flowers, seeds and stones – to form a perfectly proportioned miniature landscape complete with small streams. Each building, while an exact replica of the original, is unique in its design. Philadelphia-area landmarks such as a masterpiece replica of Independence Hall are made using pinecone seeds for shingles, acorns as finials and twigs as downspouts.

The buildings are all meticulously decorated for the holidays with lights that twinkle along the tracks and around the surrounding landscape. The Garden Railway Display has become one of the Arboretum’s most beloved attractions since it opened in 1998, and the Holiday Garden Railway is quickly becoming a favorite holiday tradition for many families.

There will also be Holiday Garden Railway Nights on November 28 and 29 and December 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. each night.

Admission to the Morris Arboretum is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors (65 and older) and $10 for students and military.

The 2020 Franklin Square Holiday Festival (200 North Sixth Street, Philadelphia, http://www.historicphiladelphia.org/franklin-square/holidays-in-franklin-square/) opens its season this weekend and it will run until December 31.

The Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show will be open from 4-8 p.m. daily and 4-9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Visitors are invited to experience the magic of the holidays and celebrate traditions new and old at the Franklin Square Holiday Festival.

Inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s electrifying genius, the free Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show presented by PECO is the key to holiday fun in Franklin Square.

Attendees can marvel at more than 50,000 lights as they shimmer, dance, and illuminate the Square to a soundtrack of holiday classics, some of which are performed by The Philly POPS in two alternating shows every 30 minutes. Every evening, one lucky audience member will be selected to “ignite’ the 4:30 p.m. show.

Also available throughout the season will be the opportunity to play mini-golf on the Chilly Philly Mini Golf course.

This weekend’s schedule also features activities at 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

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.

When the Christmas season arrives in Europe, it is common to see Christmas villages erected in downtown locations of big cities. These villages are temporary sites that feature live music, a variety of holiday attractions and a large number of specialized vendors.

Philadelphia is keeping pace with the European cities with a Christmas village of its own — a special site that springs to life this weekend and continues until December 24. It will officially open on November 23.

“Christmas Village in Philadelphia” (Love Park, 1400 JFK Boulevard, Philadelphia, www.philachristmas.com) is a free outdoor holiday market event that captures the vibe of the traditional European Christmas markets.

Christmas Village in Philadelphia

Christmas Village in Philadelphia is modeled after traditional German Christmas Markets. The history of Christmas markets in Germany dates to the late Middle Ages. One of the oldest and most famous ones is held each year in Nuremberg in the state of Bavaria.

It has been passed down from generation-to-generation ever since the area’s farmers started selling their crops in a farmers’ market during the Advent time in the mid-16th century. The goods presented in wooden booths include a rich variety of holiday gifts including Christmas ornaments, arts and crafts, toys, sweets, as well as German food and drinks. People stroll around, meet friends, and enjoy live performances of Christmas music.

At the Village in Philadelphia, vendors selling traditional European food, sweets and drinks are set up in 80 wooden booths and timber houses that form a medieval village. They will also offer a unique shopping experience with international holiday gifts, ornaments, jewelry and high-quality arts and crafts.

The Village will feature the sights and sounds of the holidays with thousands of twinkling lights, giant glowing stars, festive decorations, a musical stage and children’s activities. All the event’s annual fan favorites will be back, including Photos with Santa, Käthe Wohlfahrt, Herrnhuter Stars, the German Grill and the event’s main stage.

At the center of the market, an ornate and grand old-time carousel will be operating to give children of all ages a new holiday tradition while visiting the authentic German Christmas Market. The carousel features 20 wood-carved horses that will twirl around for an unforgettable view of the new market inside City Hall’s courtyard.

Bethlehem, which is known as the “Christmas City,” presents Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem (PNC Plaza at SteelStacks, 645 East First Street, Bethlehem, 610-332-1300,http://www.christmascity.org) every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday now through December 6.

Celebrating its 28th season, Christkindlmarkt is a one-of-a-kind family event that brings Bethlehem alive with the spirit of the season.

Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem showcases aisles of exquisite handmade works by the nation’s finest artisans.

From stunning fine art photos of the Christmas City to handmade Moravian glass stars, Christkindlmarkt 2020 will offer a one-of-a-kind shopping experience that focuses on handmade gifts crafted by local and regional artisans, as well as holiday décor and collectibles offered by some of the region’s top Christmas vendors.

The market also features live performances of Christmas music and vendors with an amazing variety of tasty food items.

Other special attractions include ice carving, glassblowing demonstrations, “Breakfast with St. Nicholas,” outdoor artisan huts, fire pits and igloos in the Outdoor Village, and Käthe Wohlfarht with handmade ornaments, nutcrackers and collectibles from Germany.

For 2020, the event has undergone a major transformation. Gone are the four large tents on SteelStacks’ PNC Plaza and in is a spacious, new layout highlighted by artisans and artists’ huts spread across the SteelStacks campus, coupled with the unique holiday décor and lighting of Rileighs Outdoor Décor.

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

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.

Another 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 from November 21-January 10.

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

Elmwood Park Zoo (Elmwood Park Zoo, 1661 Harding Boulevard, Norristown, www.elmwoodparkzoo.org) welcomes back its holiday exhibit “Wild Lights” with opening night set for November 20.

Elmwood Park Zoo adds even more to the millions of LED lights that illuminate its 16 acres over the holidays during Wild Lights, lighting up on Friday.

Visitors can take a stroll through the “Oh Christmas Tree” display, where they will be surrounded by a glistening forest, or visit the big cats in Trail of the Jumping Jaguar.

Each night of the festival features live entertainment, animal encounters, holiday music and a chance to see Santa himself.

Admission is $12.95 for the event which is slated to run through December 30.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia (Plymouth Meeting Mall, 500 W. Germantown Pike, Plymouth Meeting,https://philadelphia.legolanddiscoverycenter.com) is hosting a “Holiday Bricktacular” from November 20-January 3.

At “Holiday Bricktacular,” which will be taking place every weekend this holiday season, visitors can enjoy seasonal build activities and holiday theming throughout the Center.

Participants can take a family holiday pic on a life size LEGO sleigh, hop on the Imagination Express, build ornaments to decorate their holiday tree and stop by the “Elves Workshop” for holiday build tips from LEGOLAND’s  Master Model Builder and his team.

Also, everyone in encouraged to dress up in their favorite ugly sweater.

Admission starts at $17.95.

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 from November 21 through January 3 at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library (Route 52, Wilmington, Delaware,800-448-3883, www.winterthur.org).

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 from December 1-12 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).

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” begins on November 25 and runs 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.

There will also be “Candlelight Walking Tours” of the foundation’s museum properties every Tuesday and Thursday evening in December beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and include a libation at Cantwell’s Tavern. Reservations are required for the tours, and can be made by contacting Jennifer Kostik at (302) 378-4119, or Jennifer.cabell@historicodessa.org.

Additionally, HOF is presenting its final art exhibit of the year titled “Oneness in Spirit: Art from The Artists’ Gallery in Chestertown” now through December 30.

The Artists’ Gallery in Chestertown, Md., currently operates with five partners that include Evie Baskin, Bonnie Howell, Mary Ellen Mabe, Nancy R. Thomas, and Barbara Zuehlke. Each is represented in this vibrant exhibit of their paintings at the Historic Odessa’s Visitors Center.

The artists work well together, serving the same goal of presenting a wide range of fine art. Since the partners take turns working at the gallery, visitors get the opportunity to meet the artists and often view works in progress. The gallery celebrates both its variety and its oneness of spirit in providing a showplace for the partners and many other local and regional artists and craftsmen whose work often includes paintings, photography, pottery, woodcrafts and much more.

The Artists’ Gallery opened as L’Atelier Gallery in Stevensville, Maryland twenty years ago and then merged with another gallery on High Street in Chestertown where it has reorganized and grown for the last 16 years.

The Historic Houses of Odessa were operated by Winterthur from 1958-2003. The Historic Odessa Foundation opened to the public in December of 2005.

Today, Odessa is a National Registered Historic District and is also home to a National Historic Landmark and two National Parks Service Network to Freedom Sites. The Historic Odessa Foundation is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the past through tours, focuses on exhibitions, and living-history programs for children and adults.

The American Music Theatre (2425 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, 800-648-4102, www.AMTshows.com) has a long tradition of presenting holiday shows every November and December.

The tradition continues this year – with a difference. This year, it’s the “2020 AMT Virtual Christmas Show: Home For Christmas.”

American Music Theatre is presenting “Home for Christmas,” an eight-part holiday special created by an outstanding group of volunteer artists and production staff who donated their time to bring you the spirit of the season. This exciting musical celebration is a complimentary gift and was designed, performed, and filmed on the AMT Stage just for fans.

Featuring the AMT’s world-class singers, dancers, and musicians, it is an AMT Christmas performance like never before

To view all “Home For Christmas” segments, visit the AMT YouTube Channel. If you subscribe and select the notification button, you will be notified each time a new video is released.

“Hersheypark Christmas Candylane,” which is the annual holiday event at Hersheypark (100 West Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, 800-HERSHEY, www.hersheypark.com), is running now through December 31.

The park has “decked the halls” with more than five million lights for the merriest event of the year — “Hersheypark Christmas Candylane.” The event features rides and coasters, a visit with Santa, festive Hershey Character experiences, and, for the first time ever,” the opportunity to explore Hershey’s Chocolatetown in the winter.

This year’s rides and coasters are the all-new Candymonium , Laff Trakk, Sidewinder , Wild Mouse, Wildcat, and Cocoa Cruiser. The Kissmas Tree display features the park’s iconic Kisses Fountain decked out in its holiday best.

Santa and all nine of his reindeer make a special stop at Hersheypark Christmas Candylane® event each year. Visitors can get an up-close look at their favorite reindeer (including Rudolph) at Santa’s Reindeer Stables complete with newly expanded viewing platform.

Visitors to Hershey can also experience the winter wonderland called “Hershey Sweet Lights, A Holiday Drive-Thru Spectacular.” The attraction is a two-mile drive through wooded trails featuring approximately 600 illuminated, animated displays.

Admission to “Christmas Candylane” is $49.15. Tickets for the drive-thru start at $22.15 per car.

“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 really get into a Christmas mood 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).

If you’re looking for a non-holiday events this weekend, there are a few– albeit for those with less than mainstream tastes.

On November 21, the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center will host the East Coast Reptile Super Expo featuring hundreds of live snakes and reptiles.

The East Coast Reptile Super Expo, which is always a well-attended event, will run from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. this Saturday. Tickets are $10 with children (under five) admitted free.

Many people think snakes and lizards are interesting creatures and maybe even fun pets to own. If you fall into this category, you should check out the show on Saturday. A wide array of reptiles will be on display as part of the popular exhibition, which is an annual event that is closing in on its silver anniversary.

One of the show’s main attractions is a sales exhibit area featuring a large number of vendors with live reptiles, amphibians and arachnids as well as food items, supplies, books, cages, and related accessories.

The roster of very diverse vendors includes Darwin’s Toybox, RKZ Rodents, Monstar Reptiles, Turtle to Turtle, Delaware Valley Herpetarium, Newville Dragons, PM Herps, Black Jungle Terrarium Supply, VSCV Ventures LLC, Dachiu Dragons, Tom Rogan Reptiles, Native Exotics, Heath’s Frog Farm, Corralus Creations, Rogue Reptiles LLC, Jason R Bartolett Captive Bred Reptiles, and Fowler Reptiles.

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 through November and offer an eerily entertaining evening of true ghost stories and real haunted houses.

The Ghost Tour of Philadelphia 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. Tickets are $24.

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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