Looking for something to do this holiday season? Robin Bloom offers some recommendations.
The Annual Christmas Day Crossing of the Delaware River
238 years ago, at one of the lowest points of the American Revolution, General George Washington and a small army of men crossed the Delaware River on December 25, 1776, and led a successful surprise attack on the Hessian garrison at Trenton, NJ. The Battle of Trenton, a key victory from Washington’s Continental Army, boosted their confidence to persevere and ultimately triumph. Washington Crossing Historic Park, the actual crossing site, hosts the 62nd Annual Christmas Crossing Reenactment on December 25 from noon-3pm (crossing time at 1pm), Washington Crossing, PA.
Patriots Week in Trenton
The annual Patriots Week kicks off Friday, December 26, celebrating Trenton’s unique and pivotal role in the American Revolution with dozens of events for all ages through December 30, including musical performances, family activities, battlefield re-enactments, Colonial Ball, and living history events at various locations in Trenton, NJ.
Kwanzaa Family Celebration
The African American Museum in Philadelphia’s Macy’s Family Fun Day: Kwanzaa Celebration is Saturday, December 27 and Sunday, December 28, 10am-5pm, with candle-lighting, music, dance, storytelling and crafts, 701 Arch Street, Philadelphia. Included with museum admission. Bring a canned good to donate.
All-Star Week and Dino Days
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University hosts All-Star Week, featuring Dino Day, Live Animal Day, Bird and Bug Day, and Weird-Thing-in-Jars Day, Saturday, December 27 through Tuesday, December 30, celebrating its most popular attractions with live animal shows, new stage shows, museum specimens, craft making, talks and more, along with the opportunity to view Chocolate: The Exhibition. Included with museum admission, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia.
Dino Days return to the Delaware Museum of Natural History, Saturday and Sunday, December 27-28, 9:30am-4:30pm both days, with free-flight live bird shows led by bird expert Phung Luu at 11am and 1pm each day, featuring hawks, owls, falcons, and other birds of prey flying untethered in the Museum’s Hall of Birds. Get up close with real fossils from the Delaware Valley Paleontological Society, watch puppet shows, explore the exhibit Titanoboa: Monster Snake, and more, 4840 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE.
Gingerbread House Competition & Display at Peddler’s Village
Peddler’s Village hosts the annual Gingerbread House Competition & Display, with a show of confections in categories including traditional, authentic reproduction of a significant building, amateur, Student and KidsOnly, through January 3, 2015 in the gazebo, Routes 202 and 263, Lahaska, Bucks County, PA. Free admission and free parking.
Shady Brook Farm’s Holiday Light Show
Check out Shady Brook Farm’s annual Holiday Light Show, as millions of lights illuminate acres of farmland with familiar characters and whimsical displays, 5pm-10pm nightly. After the show, enjoy a bonfire and treats through January 4, 931 Stony Hill Road, Yardley, PA. Ride in your car or on a wagon ride.
The Annual Christmas Village in Philadelphia
The annual Christmas Village in Philadelphia returns to LOVE Park in Center City on Thanksgiving Day, through December 28, an outdoor German holiday market with vendors in more than 65 wooden booths offering international seasonal arts and crafts, gifts, ornaments, food and more as well as live performances of local choirs and bands, JFK Plaza, 1500 Arch Street. Free admission.
Macy’s Grand Court Light Show
Macy’s Grand Court Light Show returns through December 31. The show runs every day of the week on every even hour. Also, children’s activities, photos with Santa, and of course, the Dickens Village, 13th and Market Streets, Philadelphia.
Comcast Holiday Spectacular
The Comcast Holiday Spectacular returns to the Comcast Center through New Year’s Day, shown on the state-of-the-art Comcast Experience Video Wall, one of the largest LED screens in the world, spanning 83.3 feet wide by 25.4 feet high, capturing the essence of the holidays with performances by the Pennsylvania Ballet, Walnut Street Theatre, world-class ice skaters, animated penguins, and more. 15 minute shows begin at the top of every hour, 10am-8pm daily (except for weekdays at 5pm), 1701 John F. Kennedy Boulevard, Philadelphia. Free. New this year, Carol of the Bells, computer generated animation and the sounds of a 64 piece orchestra, plus twelve animatronic snowmen throughout the lobby.
Holiday Garden Railway Display at Morris Arboretum
The Morris Arboretum’s popular Holiday Garden Railway Display returns with a quarter mile of track featuring seven loops and tunnels with fifteen different rail lines and two cable cars, nine bridges (including a trestle bridge you can walk under), and bustling model trains. 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 miniature landscape with rivers and buildings that are exact replicas of the original including Independence Hall and other Philadelphia-area landmarks, all decorated for the holidays through January 4. Back this year is Friday Night Lights, an opportunity to enjoy the display at night on Fridays in December, 100 Northwestern Avenue in Chestnut Hill.
Adventure Aquarium’s annual Christmas Celebration
Adventure Aquarium’s annual Christmas Celebration transforms the space into an underwater winter wonderland with larger than life decorations, twinkling lights, glowing trees and gently falling snow, through January 1. Look for Christmas characters including Scuba Santa, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, with activities that include a tree lighting and more, 1 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ.
A Brandywine Christmas
The Brandywine River Museum of Art’s annual tradition of A Brandywine Christmas returns with the O-gauge model train display, featuring nearly 2,000 feet of track, trees decorated with thousands of “critter” ornaments, and the opportunity to see Enchanted Castles and Noble Knights. The new exhibit features 35 works of art by Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, and others that depict the romantic and stories of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and other tales of quests and chivalry. See Andrew Wyeth’s model medieval castle, made for him in 1927 by his brother Nathaniel and painted by their father N.C. Wyeth, through January 4, U.S. Route 1, Chadds Ford, PA. Pictured: N.C. Wyeth (1982-1945), “They fought with him on food more than three hours, both before him and behind him,” illustration for The Boy’s King Arthur, 1917.
‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah
The National Museum of American Jewish History puts a spotlight on the history of holiday songs and the contribution of Jewish songwriters, musicians, and artists who helped invent, re-invent and celebrate a season with ‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah. In a cozy living room setting, the new multimedia installation features interactive song and video enjoyed on curated iPads and features well-known artists like Irving Berlin, Benny Goodman, Bob Dylan, the Ramones and Lou Reed, Jewish stage and screen icons like Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson. Also, hands-on access to record albums, a wide selection of books on American popular music and Jewish history, and children’s toys and books. Self-guided tours available, through March 1, 101 South Independence Mall East, Philadelphia.
“Plaid Tidings” at Bucks County Playhouse
Plaid Tidings, the holiday edition of Forever Plaid, takes to the stage at Bucks County Playhouse, featuring holiday standards like “Jingle Bells,” “Let it Snow,” and “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” Directed and choreographed by Gordon Greenberg and Lorin Latarro, the cast includes Nick Cearley, Ben Mayne, Sean Bell, and Mitch McCarrell, through December 28, 70 South Main Street, New Hope, PA. Enjoy Santa’s workshop on select Saturdays and Sundays throughout December.
Pennsylvania Ballet presents George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker”
The Pennsylvania Ballet performs the annual holiday spectacular, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, through December 31, featuring the Philadelphia Boys Choir and dozens of local dance students along with the Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra at the Academy of Music, Broad Street, Philadelphia.
McCarter Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol”
Broadway veteran Graeme Malcolm reprises his role of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, at McCarter Theatre Center, through December 28. Michael Unger directs the critically-acclaimed production, with an original score by composer Michael Starobin. Check out a variety of events in conjunction with the performances, 91 University Place, Princeton, NJ
Yuletide at Winterthur
Yuletide at Winterthur returns with a glimpse at winter holidays past, exploring how Americans have celebrated the winter social season from the 1800s to the present.Look for the dried flower tree, Winterthur’s signature showpiece, and new this year, the tree decorated in Downton Abbey style (to accompany the exhibit Costumes of Downton Abbey). Also, many seasonally themed activities like floral design workshops, a live performance of A Christmas Carol, Yuletide Jazz and Wine, Master Players concert, and more, including the Touch-It room, through January 4, Winterthur, DE.
Let it Snow! Woodmere Art Museum
Step back into the nineteenth century and enjoy the Christmas traditions of the German settlement in Philadelphia with an exhibition of children’s toys and holiday decorations from the collection of the Germantown Historical Society, on view at Woodmere Art Museum through January 11. Highlights include a nineteenth-century sculpture of Belsnickel, the predecessor of the modern Santa Claus, the holiday tree decorated according to the style of the time with historic and period-inspired ornaments, and the gallery filled with toy trains, wooden toys, puzzles, dolls, a doll house, and other objects that transport visitors back into a traditional Christmas of Philadelphia, 9201 Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill. Also on view, Let it Snow!, a selection of winter landscapes.
Enchantment Theatre Company’s “The Snow Queen”
Adventure through the land of snow and ice with Enchantment Theatre Company’s adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. Featuring life-size puppets, masks, original music, and imaginative theatrical effects, the show is directed and choreographed by Leslie Reidel and stars Scott McPheeters, Alison Liney, Peter Smith, Maria Konstantinidis, and Justin Jain, through January 4 at the Arts Bank, 601 South Broad Street, Philadelphia.
“The Santaland Diaries” at Cape May Stage
Cape May Stage presents The Santaland Diaries, the quick-witted, quirky one-man show starring Brady Adair (pictured), through December 30, directed by Roy Steinberg, at Congress Hall, 200 Congress Place, downtown Cape May, NJ.
A Longwood Christmas
This Christmas, experience the spectacular both indoors and out at Longwood Gardens with A Longwood Christmas, and living floral displays, opulent ornaments, stunning trees, more than a half-million lights, dancing fountains, musical performances, organ sing-alongs, strolling performances, garden railway, and much more. Bird-inspired displays include trees depicting classic tales like The Ugly Duckling and The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg. See the 18-foot rotating peacock-themed tree in the Music Room. Also, wood turned birdhouse ornaments and hand blown glass hummingbirds in the Rose House and the Wildlife Tree with edible ornaments for feathered and furry friends, through January 11 on Route 1, Kennett Square, PA. Timed admission tickets.
Reading Terminal Market Holiday Railroad
The Reading Terminal Market Holiday Railroad returns with almost a third of a mile of track running fourteen working train lines through miniature scenery depicting Center City Philadelphia, a Christmas Village, and other seasonal displays, open daily at 10am through December 31 (closed on Christmas Day), 12th and Arch Street, Philadelphia, free.
Hedgerow Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol”
Hedgerow Theatre presents the 22nd annual production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, an adaptation by award-winning playwright Nagle Jackson. Executive Director Penelope Reed, who directs the play, says this year’s production focuses on the importance of family and the power of education. Featuring Zoran Kovcic as Scrooge at “America’s first repertory theater” through December 28, at 64 Rose Valley Road, Rose Valley, PA.
“Under the Tree: A Century of Holiday Trees and Toys”
The Mercer Museum captures the excitement of Christmases past from a child’s perspective with an exhibit of toys and games from the 1860s to the 1980s with their annual holiday display. Under the Tree: A Century of Holiday Trees and Toys features decorated trees and popular toys from the Victorian age through the post-World War II period on view through January 4, Doylestown, PA.
Help save Christmas with Act II Playhouse’s Murray the Elf and the Case of the Stolen Sleighbells, through December 28. Written by Act II’s Bill D’Agostino and Carrie Nielsen and directed by Artistic Director Tony Braithwaite, the new play mixes mystery with comedy for an exciting and fun story for the whole family. Starring Will Dennis as Murray and Andy Shaw, who plays all of the other characters including Mrs. Claus, Rudy the Reindeer, Luke Cool the Snowman, and Candy Kane. Designed for children ages 5 and older. Also onstage, Making Spirits Bright (pictured), a comedy cabaret, as Tony Braithwaite and friends present an evening of song, dance, original comedy skits and holiday-themed improvisation, extended through January 3, 56 East Butler Avenue, Ambler, PA.
Quintessence Theatre’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”
Escape from the holidays down the rabbit hole with Quintessence Theatre Group’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Simon Reade’s stage adaptation offers fun for the whole family with an imaginative production directed by Alexander Burns and featuring original songs by Philadelphia musician David Cope. Emiley Kiser stars as Alice, with Quintessence regulars Sean Close, Sean Bradley, Khris Davis, Johnny Smith, Andrew Betz, plus Anita Holland, and Faith Fossett through January 4 at the Sedgwick Theater, 7137 Germantown Avenue, Mt. Airy.
Franklin Square’s Holiday Festival
Stop by Franklin Square for the Holiday Festival and Electrical Spectacle: Holiday Light Show, 4pm-8pm daily, through December 31, as the park is transformed into a magical place with carols, dancing snowflakes, holiday music and more. Activities include a winter beer garden, holiday shopping marketplace in collaboration with PHAIR, food truck Fridays, Santa Saturdays, seasonal sounds, children’s activities, the Lightning Bolt Holiday Express, and the light show, made of 50,000 LED lights, featuring a sculptural 12 foot kite and synchronized to holiday music, 6th and Race Streets, Philadelphia.
Winterfests and Riverfront Holiday Skating
Enjoy the Blue Cross Riverrink Winterfest, Philadelphia’s outdoor ice skating rink on the waterfront, featuring a winter garden with holiday trees, fire pits, the Lodge, light shows, and more, through January 4, Penn’s Landing, 101 South Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia.Cooper River Park hosts a Winterfest wonderland with twinkling lights, vendors, and skating at the Jack Curtis Stadium on 5300 North Park Drive, Pennsauken, NJ. Hours are Monday through Friday, 3pm-10pm, and Saturday and Sunday noon-10pm, through January 6. Free parking in lots by stadium.Justison Landing Green has been transformed into a winter wonderland with holiday decorations, twinkling lights, and festive music and now offering open-air ice skating at the Horizon Services Riverfront Rink with family friendly events on the riverfront in Wilminton, DE.
Historic House Holiday Tours
Take a Historic Houses of Fairmount Park Holiday Tour, now through December 30, as six of Fairmount Park’s “Charms,” Cedar Grove, Laurel Hill Mansion (pictured), Lemon Hill, Mount Pleasant, Woodford, and Strawberry Mansion are dressed up with themes for the holidays, with special events, and more.Morven Museum and Garden hosts the annual Festival of Trees, as the museum’s galleries are decorated with festive trees for the holiday, on display through January 4. Handmade wreaths are for sale and children can write and send letters to Santa. Morven is a National Historic Landmark and former New Jersey Governor’s Mansion, birthplace of Richard Stockton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, 55 Stockton Street, Princeton, NJ.
Historic Smithville’s Holiday Light Show
Historic Smithville, New Jersey hosts the annual Holiday Light Show, Thursdays through Sundays, through January 6, as over 100 Christmas trees in the lake, made from 50,000 lights, blink on and off to holiday music by the Colonial Inn, 615 East Moss Mill Road, Smithville, NJ. Free.
Holidays in Delaware
Hagley Museum and Library (pictured) hosts the annual Holidays at Hagley display through January 6 with a glimpse at nineteenth and twentieth-century holiday traditions in Eleutherian Mills, the ancestral home of the DuPont family. This year’s theme is winter pastimes. Bring the kids and enjoy Family Adventure Backpack, 201 Hagley Creek Road, Wilmington, DE.Read House and Gardens offers holiday tours as part of their Victorian Christmas, as the twenty-two room, 14,000-square-foot home of George Read II, son of a Delaware signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, is decorated for Christmas with a holiday dinner setting, tree decorated with fruit and nut garlands and trinkets, costume party attire, and more, through December 31, 42 The Strand, on the waterfront in New Castle, DE.Tour Rockwood Museum for free all December and enjoy the sights and sounds of 19th century holiday traditions, including party dresses, suits, accessories, and furnishings set amongst lavish holiday decorations, 610 Shipley Road, Wilmington, DE.
Moo Shu Jew Show and Being ___ at Christmas
The Moo Shu Jew Show returns on Christmas Eve, December 24, 6pm, an evening of Jewish inspired stand-up comedy at Ocean Harbor Restaurant, with comedians Jon Fisch, Robin Fox, Dave Konig, and Stewie Stonek, and a multi-course Chinese banquet, 1023 Race Street, in Philadelphia’s Chinatown. Food is not kosher but vegetarian options are available. Enjoy Being ______ at Christmas, the NMAJH’s annual day of family fun, Thursday, December 25, from 10am-5pm, featuring Baby Loves Disco, family activities including a project with the Clay Studio, comedy by The Great Holtzie, storytime, and more, 101 South Independence Mall East, Philadelphia.
Take advantage of free meter parking in Philadelphia after 11am on Saturdays through New Year’s.
To submit an event to be considered for the Weekly Entertainment Guide email Robin Bloom at firstname.lastname@example.org.