Valentine’s Day celebrations, free fun at the Horticulture Center, romantic feats of clay

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The greenhouse at the Horticulture Society in Fairmount Park. (courtesy of the Horticulture Society)

The greenhouse at the Horticulture Society in Fairmount Park. (courtesy of the Horticulture Society)

Valentine’s Day is on the horizon, and we’re ready to partake of all things romantic. Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations continue  through Feb. 15, and the tri-state is hosting several events in honor of the Year of the Pig. And we may be inching toward spring, but the free fun at Fairmount Park’s Horticulture Center will be inside amid the lushly appointed greenhouse.

Getaway at the Greenhouse
The Horticulture Center Fairmont Park
100 N. Horticultural Drive, Philadelphia
Through Feb. 10; opens at 11 a.m.
One of the finest attractions of greater Philadelphia, Fairmont Park offers a number of enticing recreation areas, historic homes and  numerous events. This weekend, its Horticulture Center, already a place favored for weddings and special events, presents free events incorporating music, film screenings, food and music throughout the day for all ages. Organizers hope to bring a little summertime into the cold winter days. To make it better, it’s all free, although you must register for tickets.

Highlights include screenings of  “The Jungle Book” and “Jumanji,” as well as performances by Scarlet Cimillo, iLLECTIVE and Rachel Andie. You can BYO food and beverage, picnic style, until 6 p.m. when food and drink are available for purchase.

‘Til Death Do Us Part: The Love Stories of Laurel Hill
Laurel Hill Cemetery
3822 Ridge Ave., Philadelphia
Feb. 9, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Valentine’s at a cemetery? While it’s among the season’s more unusual offerings, Laurel Hill Cemetery’s ‘Til Death Do Us Part tour leaders  acknowledge that not all love stories have fairy-tale endings. On this visit to the storied cemetery, you’ll hear about a woman whose heart ﹘ just her heart ﹘ is buried there. If you can embrace a different kind of romantic experience, this tour may be the right one for you and your beloved.

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“The Bridges of Madison County”
Philadelphia Theatre Company
480 S. Broad St., Philadelphia
Through March 3, with VIP package for Valentine’s Day
The romantic best-seller “The Bridges of Madison County” started, as most good stories do, as a novel. It morphed into the 1995 movie starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep and then the Tony Award-winning musical. The Philadelphia Theater Company production continues through March 3. On Valentine’s night, a VIP package is available that includes orchestra seating, a glass of Champagne, chocolates and the opportunity to meet the show’s cast. Just use the promo code LOVE at the online ticket checkout.

Valentine’s Date Nights
The Clay Studio
139 N. Second St., Philadelphia
Feb. 9-15
$67.50 for singles/ $135 for couples; member pricing is slightly discounted
One of the most famous romantic scenes in movie history shows characters played by Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, a potter, creating pottery together before making sweet love. (A recent viewing of “Ghost” reveals that somehow the clay magically disappears from the couple before they get intimate).

If recreating some semblance of that scene is on your romance bucket list, the Clay Studio in Philadelphia has the Valentine’s Day event for you.

Couples will be guided in four-handed throwing of clay onto the potter’s wheel by candlelight during special date nights through Feb. 15. Chocolate, Champagne, music and wine will be provided ﹘ but you will have to wear more clothing than Demi and Patrick did. Speaking of that, make sure you your attire is something you can get dirty and pack a change of clothes, unless you’re OK heading home in clay-spattered glory. The Clay Studio will even send you your work of art for free. Singles are welcome, and registration is required.

Chinese New Year Celebration
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, Delaware
Feb. 10; 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
The Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations continue all over the world through Feb. 15. For the Year of the Pig, the Delaware Art Museum is hosting one of those celebrations with performances from the Chinese American Community Center Folk, Lion Dance troupes, and Chinese acrobat Yang Xiao Di. The Chinese Yo-Yo Club will demonstrate its wizardry with Chinese yo-yos, The devices suspend a disc on a string between two sticks, instead of being attached to the disc with a string as the Duncan toys of your youth were. Museum galleries will remain open until 4 p.m. at no additional cost.

Shen Yun
Merriam Theater
250 S. Broad St., Philadelphia
Through March 3
$80 and up
There’s no better time to see Shen Yun than during the Chinese New Year. The  classical Chinese dance and music company, appearing at the Merriam through March 3, brings the pageantry and music of ancient China to the Delaware Valley in a show that celebrates the country’s rich history and culture.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Sellersville Theater
24 W. Temple Ave., Sellersville, Pennsylvania
Feb. 11
South African vocalists and family group Ladysmith Black Mambazo has been around for more than 50 years. The ensemble is now experiencing a renaissance with a second generation of a capella singers that include founder Joseph Shabalala’s four sons. (Shabalala, now 77, retired from touring in 2014). Perhaps best known for their contributions to Paul Simon’s Grammy winning “Graceland” album and the Eddie Murphy movie “Coming To America,” the group has toured worldwide for the several decades, won multiple Grammys and continues to be in high demand for gorgeous harmonies.

ABBA Mania
Scottish Rite Auditorium
315 White Horse Pike, Collingswood, New Jersey
Feb. 9; 8 p.m.
$29 and up
The ’70s Swedish supergroup ABBA is almost as popular now as in its  heyday thanks to the “Mamma Mia” films and millennial fascination with all things nostalgic. The original members – Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad – no longer tour. (Lyngstad is now a princess and a countess, through her marriage to the late Prince Heinrich Ruzzo of Reuss, Count of Plauen.) The four did reunite to record some new songs, and they’re working on a holograph show scheduled to debut this spring. ABBA Mania, one of the top ABBA tribute bands, has stepped in to fill the gap, providing ABBA fans with shows that approximate what the hugely successful pop group  did in the ‘70s and early ‘80s.

African-American Women: Slavery to Freedom at the Independence Seaport Museum
Independence Seaport Museum
211 S. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia
Feb. 9; 1-3 p.m.
$12 -$17; panel is free with museum admission
Join Independence Seaport Museum and Moonstone Arts Center in observing Black History Month with a discussion about African-American women’s struggles for freedom and equal rights over the 400 years since enslaved Africans first stepped foot in America. Panelists include Nyasha Junior, Temple associate professor in the department of religion, and  M. Nzadi Keita, associate professor of English and coordinator of African-American Studies at Ursinus College.

Herbie Hancock
Parx Casino Xcite Center
2999 Street Road, Bensalem, Pennsylvania
Feb. 8; 8 p.m.
Icon is a term thrown around loosely these days, but keyboardist and bandleader Herbie Hancock certainly deserves that title. In a career spanning five decades, he’s not just played with almost all of the greats ﹘ including Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter and Chick Corea ﹘ he’s also helped advance music technology into the next dimension. He recently received the Benjamin Franklin Medal from London’s Royal Society of the Arts, the first musician to receive the honor.

The Philadelphia Auto Show
Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch St., Philadelphia
Through Feb. 10
$7-$14; kids 6 and under are free
This is your last chance to check out the fleet of brand new cars showcased at this year’s Philadelphia Auto Show. From dream cars to the practical family minivan, they’re all on display. You can also see the latest in auto technology, which is pretty mind-blowing if you haven’t driven or ridden in a new car in a while.

Play Tastings @ Green Soul Sunday
Green Soul
1410 Mount Vernon St., Philadelphia
Feb. 10; 6 p.m.
In what has to be one of the more unique events on the Philly Theater Week calendar, playwrights Alexandra Espinoza, Sam Henderson and Robin Rodriguez will showcase excerpts from new plays. Afterward, you can enjoy drinks and dinner with other thespians and members of the theater community.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at The Academy of Music
Academy Of Music
240 S. Broad St., Philadelphia
Feb. 8, 10, 15, 17;  8 p.m. Fridays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays
$25 and up
The opera, based on William Shakespeare’s play about a magic-filled evening in the forest of Athens makes its way to greater Philadelphia for the first time. Robert Carsen’s production has been touring the world for 25 years before this U.S debut. Tim Mead and Anna Christy lead the cast as Oberon and Tytania, along with actor Miltos Yerolemou as Puck. You may recognize him from his turn as Syrio on “Game of Thrones.”

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
Kimmel Center
300 S. Broad St., Philadelphia
Feb. 10, 7 p.m.
$55 and up
Wynton Marsalis needs no introduction. The trumpeter from New Orleans’ famed jazz family has already established his legacy as one of the world’s leading jazz musicians. Now 57, the artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center is a nine-time Grammy Award winner. His jazz composition “Blood on the Fields” is the first jazz piece to win a Pulitzer Prize for Music. Catch him if you can; tickets for the show are limited.

The Estelle Experience – Lover’s Rock Live
The Foundry (inside the Fillmore Philadelphia)
29 E. Allen St., Philadelphia
Feb. 7; 8 p.m.
British import Estelle hit it big on U.S. shores with her Grammy-winning song “American Boy” with Kanye West from her 2008 release “Shine.” Though her U.S. career hasn’t quite lived up to that early promise, she’s released three albums since, including last year’s “Lover’s Rock” a reggae release with guest stars Luke James and Tarrus Riley.

Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons
Hard Rock Hotel’s Etess Arena
1000 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Feb. 8-9; 8 p.m.
$40 and up
There are not enough superlatives to describe the 50-plus year career of the legendary Frankie Valli. Hitmaker, singer, actor, bandleader, Valli has done it all. His life provided the rich inspiration for the hit Tony-winning Broadway musical “Jersey Boys” that ran on Broadway for 12 years before moving off-Broadway. Valli, now in his 80s, is still touring worldwide. With classic hits both with the Four Seasons and in his solo career ﹘ “My Eyes Adored You,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night),” and “Rag Doll” ﹘ Valli’s discography is one of the most significant entries in the canon of American music.

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