What To Do: Longwood sparkles in winter

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Longwood Gardens in winter.

Visitors to Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) during the next two months might find themselves singing lyrics from a song thought of as a Christmas carol but is really a lot more – lyrics such as…

In the lane, snow is glistenin’, 

A beautiful sight, We’re happy tonight, 

Walkin’ in a winter wonderland.”  


“In the meadow, we can build a snowman
And pretend that he is Parson Brown
He’ll say, “Are you married?,”, we’ll say, “No, man
But you can do the job when you’re in town.” 

The song is “Winter Wonderland,” which was written in 1934 by Felix Bernard and lyricist Richard Bernhard Smith. Because of its seasonal theme, it is often regarded as a Christmas song in the Northern Hemisphere. In reality, the song’s lyrics were about a couple’s romance during the winter season.

From January 22-March 27, Longwood Gardens will celebrate a winter wonderland with a special attraction called “Winter Wonder.”

In the past, Longwood Gardens was always a great place to go from January to April to escape the harshness of winter. Guests could enjoy an amazing array of flowering plants inside the lush and nicely heated Conservatory.

That has stayed the same this year and “Winter Wonder” adds a new dimension.

Outdoors, winter’s subdued beauty illustrates how plants can be used for both aesthetic and habitat benefit. Visitors can stroll among the serene landscape of the Hillside Garden or reflect among a symphony of copper and umber hues in the 86-acre Meadow Garden.

Although subdued colors reign, the occasional burst of bright yellow and orange of blooming witch-hazel dots the landscape, while winter grasses add a textural element.

Even though winter is a time of dormancy for many plants, it is also a time when plants’ different characteristics are on display – characteristics such as bark patterns, seed pods and ornamental fruit.

Wintertime allows the clear details of the garden to come forward and highlights the harmony that a garden builds with its surrounding landscape. The clear light of winter enhances the finer details of the outdoor landscape, from deciduous trees holding onto their late winter leaves to the brown-toned structures of summer-flowering perennials set against a blue winter sky.

Indoors, there is always the Conservatory.

This winter, visitors can experience a warm, colorful oasis in Longwood’s grand Conservatory. Vibrant Streptocarpus ‘Concord Blue’ baskets float above, pink and purple Saintpaulia (African-violets) delight, and tall Clerodendrum schmidtii (chains-of-glory) stun.

From beds of coral Cymbidium to a dedicated area showcasing highlights from our vast collection, guests will be able to find hundreds of orchids in spectacular bloom.

January also marks the return of performances to the Conservatory featuring a lineup of artists from audience favorites to new talent, all bringing a world of music to the ever-changing beauty of the Conservatory.

In early March, Longwood’s famed blue poppy (Meconopsis ‘Lingholm’) returns to the Conservatory. These spectacular flowers—which are native to the high elevations of the Himalayan Mountains— are grown using precise techniques to force the blue-poppies to flower in March. The substantial petals are a mesmerizing sky-blue color.

Longwood Gardens is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Tuesdays. Admission is $25 for adults, $22 for seniors (age 62 or older), $13 for students (ages 5 to 8 or with valid student ID) and free for ages 4 or younger.

The 35th Annual Motorsports Race Car & Trade Show

The 35th Annual Motorsports Race Car & Trade Show will be held January 21 and 22 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center (100 Station Road, Oaks, 609-888-3618, www.aarn.com).

Race drivers and their cars thrive on sponsorship, and it’s prominently displayed on everything. So, it’s no surprise that the official name of this weekend’s show in Oaks is “Pioneer Pole Buildings Motorsports 2022 Fueled by Sunoco Race Fuels and Distributed by Insinger Performance Race Car and Trade Show.”

It almost sounds like a collegiate football bowl game name on steroids.

The huge annual event will feature close to 300,000 square feet of exhibition space devoted to auto racing, street rods and everything else related to motorsports. There will be hundreds of exhibits, a full schedule of informative seminars and personal appearances by a wide array of racing legends.

There will be more than 200 motorsports vehicles of all types on exhibit. Several area speedways will have displays at the show and offer a great opportunity for fans to meet some of their standout performers and pick up a schedule of motorsports events for the 2020 season.

More than 600 exhibit booths featuring 400-plus racing dealers, hardcore manufacturers of racing equipment and more will be part of the huge show, which is billed as the biggest and best of its type in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states.

Show attendees will have the opportunity to meet and collect autographs from well-known figures in motorsports.

Another annual fan favorite at the annual show is the Ms. Motorsports Pageant, which is scheduled for Friday evening at 8 p.m. As an added attraction, there will be autograph sessions with many of the contestants from recent years.

Show hours are 2-9 p.m. on January 21 and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on January 22.

One-day tickets for adults are $15 daily and $5 for children (ages 6-12).

Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum (6825 Norwitch Drive, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, www.simeonemuseum.org) will host four special events in January, February and March – four “Demo Days.”

Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum

The events feature a variety of impressive automobiles from the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum’s collection of vintage automobiles.

“Demo Day” on January 22 will have several exquisite autos on display — Cunningham Equipe Cadillac, a Cunningham C4R and a D-Jaguar.

The “Demo Day” on February 12 lists “Salon, American Playboy” — Kissel 8-75, Dupont Speedster, Auburn 851, and Studebaker.

The billing for “Demo Day” on February 26 is “Carrera Panamericana” — Mercedes 300SL, Ferrari 375MM, and the March 12 event is “The Car Detective, Acquisition Stories” — Duesenberg Grand Prix, Bugatti 57G Tank, Porsche 917.

“Demo Day” on March 26 is “Developing the American Sports Car” — American Underslung, Mercer, Stutz Black Hawk, Corvette.

The “Demo Day” events typically stay true to the following schedule – 10 a.m., doors open; 11:15-11:45 a.m., scrutineering technical learning session; noon-12:30 p.m., Demo Day discussion and Q-and-A with Dr. Simeone; 12:30-1 p.m., driving demonstration with featured automobiles; 1-2 p.m., visitors are able to inspect and photograph Demo Day cars while engaging with Simeone Museum staff and volunteers.

For the second weekend in a row, dinosaurs will be making a visit to downtown Philadelphia.

Jurassic Quest

“Jurassic Quest,” which will be presented at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (1101 Arch Street, Philadelphia, www.jurassicquest.com/events/philadelphia-pa) on January 21-23, is billed as “North America’s largest and most realistic dinosaur event.”

Guests are presented with the opportunity to walk through the Cretaceous, Jurassic and Triassic Periods and experience for themselves what it was like to be among dinosaurs of all kinds.

In collaboration with leading paleontologists, each dinosaur has been painstakingly replicated in every detail. Whether their prehistoric counterpart had skin that was scaly, had feathers or fur, “Jurassic Quest” has gone to extremes to bring the dinosaurs to life.

“Jurassic Quest” exhibits also allow future paleontologists to dig up fossils, ride their favorite life-sized dinosaur, enjoy walking dinosaur and baby dinosaur shows, and enjoy a dinosaur themed play land in addition to face painting, crafts and much more.

Ticket prices are $36 child admission with unlimited rides, $22 general admission (ages 2 and up), $19 senior, and free (under 2).

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” 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. through March 27. Tickets are $7.

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 2022, 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. The to-go dinner will be available for pick up from the Museum on January 27 and 28 from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. and 29 from noon-4 p.m.

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.

Pre-registration is required. 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.

Rockwood Park

On January 21, Rockwood Park (4651 Washington Street Extension, Wilmington, Delaware, www.nccde.org/431/Rockwood-Park-Museum) is presenting “Candlelight Tour at Rockwood Museum.”

At night, Rockwood changes from the garden pleasure villa of the day into a romantic stage for glimmering surfaces and sumptuous textures. Despite the modern conveniences with which the mansion was built, including bright gas-powered lighting, the families that lived there often preferred the soft drama of candlelight. This tour allows visitors to experience the museum’s interiors in the way they were intended.

The event is an “All Ages” event and masks are required. Tickets are $10.

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.

Laurel Hill Cemetery (3822 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-228-8200, www.thelaurelhillcemetery.org) will have a special event this weekend that looks back in time.

On January 22, Laurel Hill Cemetery will present “Sacred Spaced and Stories Places” walking tour at 1 p.m.

The expansion of Fairmount Park in the 1860s prevented further growth of Laurel Hill, and in 1869 West Laurel Hill was established just across the river in Bala Cynwyd. This walking tour provides a wonderful overview of West Laurel Hill’s long and colorful history, including its architectural artistry, stunning trees and horticulture, and the stories of residents that encompass diverse and fascinating Philadelphia history.

Experienced tour guides offer visitors a unique perspective and every Sacred Spaces tour is different. This weekend’s tour guide will be Pamela McMahon.

Tickets, which must be purchased in advance, are: $12/General Admission, $10/Seniors (65 & up), $10/Students with ID, $7/Members, $6/Youth (6-12), and $0/Child (5 & Under). Youth and children must be accompanied by an adult.

Another event dealing with the deceased be found in Chadds Ford.

Every Saturday in January, the Chaddsford Winery (632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, 610-388-6221, http://www.chaddsford.com) will present “Murder Mystery Nights 2022” from 6:30-9 p.m. each night.

Here is the scenario as posted by the winery – “Following the murky details of her husband’s untimely death, Mrs. de Blanc hosts an intimate vigil for her late husband with several of his nearest and dearest friends.  Are the guests there to pay their respect, or do they have ulterior motives? Is foul play afoot?

Polish up your looking glass and help uncover clues to pinpoint the killer and determine the motive.”

Along with an evening of mystery and suspense, participants will enjoy a full, five-course dinner and some frightfully fabulous Pennsylvania wine. Dinner will be presented as a roving dining experience spread out at stations throughout the building, and each course will be carefully paired with a Chaddsford wine.

This is a roaming scavenger-hunt type event. You will walk to several stations throughout the main Winery searching for clues while enjoying delicious food and wine pairings.

For the health and safety of our visitors and staff, Murder Mystery Nights will be limited to just 60 guests per evening.

Tickets are $135 and reservations are required. All ticket sales are final.  Ticket dates cannot be swapped, changed or refunded.

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 four 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 at 11 a.m. and 1:30 and 4 p.m.

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.

In an unusual take on wine pairing events, Harvest Ridge Winery (1140 Newark Road, Toughkenamon, harvestridgewinery.com) is presenting a “Donut & Wine Pairing” on January 23.

The “Donut & Wine Pairing” will feature four different types of doughnuts paired with four selections of Harvest Ridge’s award-winning wines.

Tickets are $25 for the two-hour event that is slated to get underway at 1 p.m. on Sunday.


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.

The installation is open from noon-10 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Sundays.

Tickets are $24 for adults, $20 for seniors, teachers, healthcare workers, students and active military, and $15 for children (ages 3-12).

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

Visitors of all ages can enjoy a dramatic seasonal activity.

Rink and reindeer topiaries take up winter residence on the Greenfield Lawn.

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.

The Colebrookdale Railroad (South Washington Street, Boyertown, www.colebrookdalerailroad.com)  is running its “Snowflake Special” excursions on January 23 and 30, February 27 and March 6 and 13.

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 11 a.m.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $23 for seniors, $20 for children (ages 2-12) and $6 for toddlers (under 2).

“Elmo’s Furry Fun Fest” at Sesame Place (100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, www.sesameplace.com) is happening every weekend now through March 20.

Guests are invited to visit the park to enjoy an event series during “Elmo’s Furry Fun Fest,” a festive, family-friendly celebration with everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends live and in-person at the amusement park in Langhorne.

This weekend’s special attraction is “Ernie’s Birthday Bash” on January 22 and 23.

Every weekend through March, visitors 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 family-friendly “Mardi Gras Celebration,” experience the park’s “St. Patrick’s Day Celebration,” and wish Big Bird a Happy Birthday during his Birthday Weekend.

Activities include a riding on the Sunny Day Carousel, dancing and grooving during at the “Furry Friends Dance Party,” watching “Elmo the Musical, LIVE!” and having fun at the always popular Mini Parades.

The schedule features “Ernie’s Birthday Bash” on January 22 and 23, “Elmo’s Rockin’ Birthday Bash” on January 29 and 30 and February 5 and 6, “My Fuzzy Valentine’s Celebration” on February 12 and 13, “Mardi Gras Celebration” on February 19, 20, 26 and 27, “St. Patrick’s Day Celebration” on March 5, 6, 12 and 13, and “Big Bird’s Birthday Pajama Party” on March 19 and 20.

The park will be open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays now through March 20 along with January 17 and February 21.

Letting go is not always easy. 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).

You can find Santa still hanging around in Bucks County.

The “Holiday Light Show” at Shady Brook Farm (931 Stony Hill Road, Yardley, www.shadybrookfarm.com) has been extended until the end of the month.

The farm features a three-million-light Holiday Light Show — 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 2021-2022 run of the “Holiday Light Show” has been extended through January 30.

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