Robin Bloom offers suggestions for holiday fun.
Annual Christmas Day Crossing of the Delaware River
239 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 63rd 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 Saturday, December 26, celebrating Trenton’s unique and pivotal role in the American Revolution with dozens of events for all ages through December 31, 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 26, 10am-5pm, and Sunday, December 27, noon-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 Days at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University hosts All-Star Days, featuring Dinosaur Day, Bug Day, Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly Day, Fur, Feathers, and Scales Day, and Weird Things in Jars Day, Saturday, December 26 through Wednesday, December 30, celebrating its most popular attractions with live animal shows, stage shows, museum specimens, craft making, talks and more, included with museum admission, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia.
Discovery Days: Dinosaurs and More at the Delaware Museum of Natural History
The Delaware Museum of Natural History expands its annual winter holiday event into a four day celebration of dinosaurs. Discovery Days: Dinosaurs and More takes place Sunday, December 27 through Wednesday, December 30 with a different theme each day including Baby Dinosaurs, Jurassic Giants, Tyrant Tuesday, and Countdown to Extinction. Enjoy touch tables, stories, songs, games and more at 4840 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE.
Moo Shu Jew Show and Being ___ at Christmas
The Moo Shu Jew Show returns on Christmas Eve, December 24, 6pm, with an evening of Jewish inspired stand-up comedy at Ocean Harbor Restaurant, featuring comedians Cory Kahaney, Dan Naturman, and Buddy Fitzpatrick, 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, Friday, December 25, from 10am-5pm, featuring Alex and the Kaleidoscope Band (pictured), family activities including a project with the Clay Studio, comedy by The Great Holtzie, story time, and more, 101 South Independence Mall East, Philadelphia.
“A Christmas Past in the Pennsylvania German Tradition” at 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 10. Highlights from A Christmas Past in the Pennsylvania German Tradition 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, Hark and Bark! Angels and Dogs from Woodmere’s Collection, a selection of imagery from the permanent collection. Pictured: The Puppies’ Angel (oil on canvas), date unknown, Alice Kent Stoddard 1883–1976.
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. Two alternating shows every 30 minutes. Every evening an audience member is selected to kick off the festivities as the “igniter” for the 4:30pm show, with 50,000 LED lights, 6th and Race Streets, Philadelphia. Photo by Jeff Fusco.
Festival of Trees at Morven
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 3. 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. While there, check out the exhibit Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Couple of an Age with photographs, rarely-seen objects, select text, audio, video and other interactive components.
The Holidays at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art celebrates the holiday season with special events, musical performances, and activities including caroling in the galleries, art activities, The Christmas Story in Art tour, Winter Family Studios, “Wintery Concerts,” yoga, New Year’s Day Brunch, and more, Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia.
Shady Brook Farm’s Holiday Light Show
Take in Shady Brook Farm’s annual Holiday Light Show, as more than 3 million lights illuminate acres of farmland with familiar characters and whimsical displays, 5pm-10pm nightly (with extended hours on certain days). After the show, enjoy a bonfire and treats through January 10, 931 Stony Hill Road, Yardley, PA. Ride in your car or on a wagon ride.
Cape May Christmas
Cape May offers tours, trolley rides, and an old-Fashioned Christmas Exhibit of holiday traditions through the years with a Dickens village, model trains, toys and more through January 2 at the Carroll Gallery, Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington Street, Cape May, NJ.
The Annual Christmas Village in Philadelphia
The annual Christmas Village in Philadelphia returns to LOVE Park in Center City through December 27, an outdoor German holiday market with vendors in 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. Photo by Russ Brown Photography.
Macy’s Grand Court Light Show
Macy’s Grand Court Light Show runs every day of the week on every even hour through December 31. 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 January 3, 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, 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.
“A Christmas Story” at Walnut Street Theatre
The Philadelphia premiere of A Christmas Story, The Musical is onstage through January 10), 825 Walnut Street, Philadelphia. For all ages. Pictured: Collin Jeffery, Craig Mulhern Jr, Christopher Sutton and Lyn Philistine in “A Christmas Story, The Musical.” Photo by Mark Garvin.
“This is the Week That Is” at 1812 Productions
Stay up to speed on all things political with 1812 Productions’ 10th annual holiday comedy This is the Week That Is. Written and performed by Dave Jadico, Aimé Kelly, Alex Bechtel, Sean Close, Justin Jain, and Jennifer Childs (who also directs), the show is done in the spirit of The Carol Burnett Show and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, with Don Montrey returning as head news writer at the anchor desk and Philadelphia’s neighborhood Patsy chiming in! Onstage through December 31, Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Street, Philadelphia. Photo by John Flak.
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 3, 100 Northwestern Avenue in Chestnut Hill. Photo by Natavan Werbock.
A Brandywine Christmas
The Brandywine River Museum of Art’s annual tradition of A Brandywine Christmas returns through January 7 with the O-gauge model train display, featuring nearly 2,000 feet of track, trees decorated with thousands of “critter” ornaments, and antique dolls from the museum’s collection, U.S. Route 1, Chadds Ford, PA. Photo by Carlos Alejandro.
“Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery” at Philadelphia Theatre Company
Onstage at Philadelphia Theatre Company is Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, Ken Ludwig’s adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1901 mystery “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” Featuring the original design team from the McCarter Theatre production (which staged the play earlier this year), the show is directed by Amanda Dehnert with a cast of five actors playing 40 roles with imaginative non-traditional staging through December 27 in the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, Broad and Lombard Streets, Philadelphia. Photo by Mark Garvin.
McCarter Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol”
For one last time, Broadway veteran Graeme Malcolm reprises his role of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, at McCarter Theatre Center, through December 27. Michael Unger directs the critically-acclaimed classic production, with an original score by composer Michael Starobin. After sixteen seasons, the production will be retired in preparation for a reimagined version to debut in 2016. Featuring a cast with Broadway, regional and international credits as well as fourteen local children, 91 University Place, Princeton, NJ. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
“Under the Tree: A Century of Holiday Trees and Toys” at Mercer Museum
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 3, 84 South Pine Street, Doylestown, PA.
150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s Birth
Reminisce with a grown-up Peter as he goes on a quest to rescue the children of his cousin Benjamin and sister Flopsy with Enchantment Theatre Company’s Peter Rabbit Tales. The new and original world premiere production was created in celebration of the 150th anniversary of author Beatrix Potter’s birth and is based on three of her famous tales. Potter’s beloved characters hop out of the pages of her storybook and on to the stage with life-sized puppets, fantastical costumes and masks, mime, magic, dance and music, in an exclusive production in partnership with publisher Penguin Random House UK. Touring the world, the show stops in Philadelphia through January 3 at the Arts Bank, 601 South Broad Street, Philadelphia. Photo by Mark Garvin.Free Library of Philadelphia is showcasing a collection of Beatrix Potter’s original watercolors, handwritten manuscripts, first editions and collectibles – currently the largest Potter collection outside of Great Britain. Items include one of only 450 privately printed editions of the “Tales of Peter Rabbit,” the original manuscript of “The Tailor of Gloucester,” which Potter wrote and illustrated as a gift to the daughter of a former governess, through February 28 in the Parkway Central Library’s rare book department, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia. Guided tours available.
“Diner” at Delaware Theatre Company
The musical adaptation of the classic film Diner is onstage at Delaware Theatre Company. Set in Baltimore in 1959, the play centers on childhood friends who confront the realities of adulthood at the all-night diner. Written by Academy Award-winner Barry Levinson (who wrote the film) with music and lyrics by Sheryl Crow, the show is being developed for a Broadway stage. Featuring the theater’s largest professional cast made up of veteran Broadway actors, directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall, and already extended through January 3, 200 Water Street, Wilmington, DE. Related programs and events include post-show talkbacks and pre-show Viewpoints. Photo by Matt Urban: Mobius New Media.
Pig Iron Theatre Company’s “Gentleman Volunteers”
In honor of the 100th anniversary of World War I, Pig Iron Theatre Company remounts Gentleman Volunteers, one of its most popular works in its repertoire of unusual theatrical creations, through December 27. Based on the book by Arlen J. Hansen, the epic drama of American idealism follows two American ambulance drivers from the idyllic campus of Yale University to the battlefields of France and the chaos of the First World War. Originally performed in 1999, the show has since toured New York and Europe. Featuring a brand new cast creating all the effects onstage and live music performed by “one man band” Michael Castillejos, the site-specific piece is performed in “promenade,” with the audience following the action around the space in the intimate Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American Street, Philadelphia. Photo by Lindsay Browning.
Pennsylvania Ballet presents George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker”
The Pennsylvania Ballet performs the annual holiday spectacular, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, through December 31, updated by Artistic Director Angel Corella, 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. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.
“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” at Bucks County Playhouse
Bucks County Playhouse brings back the holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, by Joe Landry. The stage adaptation, inspired by the Frank Capra classic film of the same name, is set at a live radio broadcast in the 1940s with an ensemble that brings over two dozen characters to life. Directed by Hunter Foster with musical staging by Jennifer Cody and featuring Wayne Wilcox, Brandon Ellis, Maggie Lakis, Whitney Bashor, Kevin Pariseau, and Garth Kravits, through December 27, 70 South Main Street, New Hope, PA. Santa Claus will be in the lobby before the show to greet those attending the performance. Produced by special arrangement with Playscripts, Inc. Photo courtesy of Bucks County Playhouse.
“The Three Maries” at the Prince Theater
No Attytude Productions pokes gentle fun at Philadelphia with the world premiere musical The Three Maries, “a Philadelphia Phable,” written by local playwright, composer and lyricist Michael Ogborn. A mash-up of Cinderella and Pygmalion, the “love letter” to the city is a fictional account of an historical event in the year 1926 when Queen Marie of Romania announced a visit to Philadelphia for the celebration of the sesquicentennial. Narrated from a Mummer’s clubhouse in South Philly, the score is infused with 1920s Jazz, Vaudeville, Tin Pan Alley and of course Mummer’s string band music. Directed by Peter Rios and starring Jeff Coon, Mary Martello, Rachel Brennan, Paul Nolan, Deirdre Finnegan, Neill Hartley, John Monforto, Josh Totora, and Jenna Rogalski, plus Broadway veterans Kathy Deitch and Mindy Dougherty through January 10 at the Prince Theater, 1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. Photo by Christopher Sapienza/Wiseman Productions.
Quintessence Theatre’s “Hansel and Gretel”
Escape into the wild woods with Hansel and Gretel, a holiday family classic by Quintessence Theatre Group. Known for presenting progressive classic theatre, the contemporary retelling of the Brothers Grimm’s dark tale has been adapted for the stage by Alexander Burns – who also directs the show – and features original songs by Philadelphia musician David Cope. Starring Sean Bradley, Alan Brincks, Faith Fossett, Anita Holland, Clare O’Malley, and Robert Stineman through January 3 at the Sedgwick Theater, 7137 Germantown Avenue, Mt. Airy. Photo by Shawn May.
“Murray the Elf” at Act II Playhouse
Help save Christmas with Act II Playhouse’s Murray the Elf and the Case of the Gruesome Gumdrop, opening Friday, through December 27. Written by Act II’s Bill D’Agostino and directed by Matt Silva, 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, and Candy Kane. Designed for children ages 5 and older. Also onstage, Behind the Music: Holiday Tunes, featuring Sonny Leo and April Woodall performing classic holiday songs, 56 East Butler Avenue, Ambler, PA. Photo by Bill D’Agostino.
Hedgerow Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol”
Hedgerow Theatre presents the 23rd annual production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with a twist this year. The new adaptation by Artistic Director Jared Reed incorporates the use of puppets to portray the spirits whose visits transform Ebenezer Scrooge from miser to philanthropist. The puppets were designed and created by Alisa Sickora Kleckner, an award-winning theatre artist and adjunct professor and resident designer at Arcadia University. Featuring Zoran Kovcic (pictured) as Scrooge at “America’s first repertory theater” through December 27, at 64 Rose Valley Road, Rose Valley, PA. Photo courtesy of Hedgerow Theatre.
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, garden railway, and much more. Take in more than 50 trees adorned with icicles and frosty glass ornaments and a 24-foot Fraser Fir with 2000 crystal ornaments. The Music Room décor features two 15-foot Fraser Fir trees that frame a picturesque view out to a winter fountain garden with an arching bower and flowing fountain. Also, enjoy the illuminated Italian Water Garden, Meadow Garden-inspired tree in the Hourglass Lake Pavilion, the Wildlife Tree with edible ornaments for feathered and furry friends, and more, through January 10 on Route 1, Kennett Square, PA. Timed admission tickets. Photo by Richard Donham/courtesy of Longwood Gardens.
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. Photo courtesy of Reading Terminal Market.
Gingerbread House Competition & Display at Peddler’s Village
Peddler’s Village hosts the annual Gingerbread House Competition and Display, with a show of confections in several categories through January 2, in the gazebo, Routes 202 and 263, Lahaska, Bucks County, PA. Free admission and free parking. Photo courtesy of Peddler’s Village.
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 December 31. Look for Christmas characters including Scuba Santa, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, with activities that include live shows and more, 1 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ. Photo courtesy of Adventure Aquarium.
Historic Smithville’s Holiday Light Show
Historic Smithville, New Jersey hosts the annual Holiday Light Show, Thursdays through Sundays, through January 6, as over 120 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.
Holidays in Delaware
Nemours Mansion (pictured) is decorated for the season with historical artifacts, Christmas trees, hand-painted ornaments and decorations from the early 1900s to the present, and more, through January 3, 850 Alapocas Drive, 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, “Twas the Night…,” including party dresses, suits, accessories, and furnishings set amongst lavish holiday decorations, 610 Shipley Road, Wilmington, DE.
Yuletide at Winterthur
Yuletide at Winterthur returns with a glimpse at winter holidays past, exploring the holiday traditions of Henry Francis du Pont and his family. Look for the dried flower tree (pictured), Winterthur’s signature showpiece. This year, to coincide with Winterthur’s major exhibition A Colorful Folk: Pennsylvania Germans and the Art of Everyday Life, the Yuletide Tour will begin with displays exploring holiday practices of the Pennsylvania Germans, who introduced Americans to such seasonal standards as the Christmas tree, the charity bazaar, and the tradition of the gift-giver. Among the many highlights will be an unusual 19th-century Christmas tree, a sassafras stripped of its leaves and wrapped in cotton batting to form a snowy backdrop for a display of colorful ornaments, through January 3, Winterthur, DE. Photo courtesy of Winterthur.
Take advantage of free meter parking in Philadelphia through New Year’s.
Each week, the Entertainment Guide spotlights interesting local arts offerings happening now, including music, dance, theater, museums, special exhibitions and other arts events from across the region.
To submit an event to be considered, email Robin Bloom at email@example.com.