What To Do: ‘Wonder’ at Longwood, Chinese New Year at Penn Museum

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Longwood Gardens

This weekend, Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) starts its new year with one of its annual special events – “Winter Wonder.”

“Winter Wonder,” which runs from January 21-March 26, celebrates the beauty of winter. It’s all about outdoor spacious, indoor oasis, and the power of story.

Outside, visitors can find a sense of peace and tranquility as they walk past textural grasses, seed heads and the dramatic silhouettes of trees that stretch up into the sky.

Inside, they can bask in a world of warmth that features an overhead garden of hanging baskets adorned with such vibrant beauties as jasmine, cape-primrose, and lipstick-plant.

Visitors will be able to enjoy a paradise of flowers and foliage, bursting with color — all in a beautiful indoor winter wonderland with a tropical twist.

“Winter Wonder” exists on two levels.

Both outdoors and in, they can embark on a poignant journey with “Voices in the Landscape: Deeply Rooted with Storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston” Beginning on March 11. This is a series of 10 stops throughout the Gardens which honor the contributions of the African American community through the lens of horticulture and the power of story.

Participants will follow along as storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston honors and celebrates the strength, resilience, and contributions of the African American community through the lens of horticulture and the power of story.

Those taking the tour can hear an ancient Zulu creation myth paired with the oldest plant on Earth in the Conservatory; make their way to the Lookout Loft Treehouse and learn the story of the significance and symbolism of woods and meadows; and call out the name of an ancestor in remembrance at the Large Lake while a traditional spiritual soothes your soul.

“Voices in the Landscape” signage is at each stop. Each audio recording ranges between three and eight minutes in length. The estimated time to experience the entire Voices in the Landscape exhibit is approximately 1.5 to 2 hours.

Inside Longwood’s Conservatory, visitors can check out the towering Clerodendrum schmidtii (chains of glory) as well as nearly 300 blooming orchids on display in the site’s newly renovated Orchid House. There will also be rare blue poppies blooming in March but for only about 10 to 15 days.

A new attraction this year is Longwood Gardens’ “Science Saturdays series.

Beyond the boundaries of the formal gardens, Longwood stewards a rich variety of natural habitats. The rolling terrain of the Pennsylvania piedmont and changing ways people have used land over time provide us with diverse conditions for plant and animal life. Dr. Lea Johnson, Associate Director, Land Stewardship and Ecology, will reveal how patterns in the landscape reveal both history and potential futures for biodiversity.

The topics for Science Saturday events are “Reading the Landscape” on January 21, “Plant Exploration Around the World” on February 18 and “Plant Collections: Clivia” on March 18.

There also will be another series called “Sweet Floral Treats”—a make-and-take floral design class where the designer draws inspiration from a sweet treat. Classes will be presented on February 23 and March 22.

The gardens are open from Wednesdays through Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Friday, March 31. Hours change in the spring.

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.

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 $25 for adults, $22 for seniors (ages 62 and older) and college students, $18 for active military and veterans and $13 for youth (ages 5-18).

For vinophiles, there are many wine trails around the state including the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail, the Berks County Wine Trail and the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail.

There are also numerous beer trails such as the Lancaster County Ale Trail and the Bucks County Ale Trail.

These trails provide people with a coordinated list of wineries and breweries where they can visit, sample, learn — and enjoy an array of taste treats.

While it doesn’t exist, there should be a “Jose Garces Dining Trail” with stops at Garces’ many fine dining establishments around the Delaware Valley.

Jose Garces

James Beard Award Winner and Iron Chef Jose Garces is known as a leading culinary authority of Spanish and Latin-American food. From the Spanish tapas at Amada, his first restaurant, to the playful Japanese street food at Okatshe in Atlantic City, Chef Garces continually pushes the boundaries of culinary excellence.

His restaurants in the Philly area include Amada, Buena Onda, Distrito, Garces Eats, The Olde Bar, Village Whiskey, Volver and Garces Trading Company and Volver.

Amada features Spanish, Tapas/Small Plates and casual dining. Specialties include lobster paella, tortilla española and a whole roasted suckling pig. Buena Onda is a Mexican Fast Casual restaurant specializing in fresh tacos, margaritas and good vibes

Distrito is a Modern Mexican Casual Eatery with authentic and fresh cuisine celebrating the culture of Mexico City in a colorful and energetic environment – and a full bar with 100+ tequilas.

Garces Eats is a casual eating establishment with a rotating menu. Located on the Club Level at The Wells Fargo Center, Garces Eats offers a wide-ranging menu of rotating dishes inspired by Chef Garces’ iconic restaurants like Village Whiskey, The Olde Bar & Distrito.

The Olde Bar is a Seafood/Contemporary American/Cocktail Lounge featuring Casual Dining. It’s marked by refined and historical ambience serving oysters on the half shell alongside a smart menu of traditional bar snacks and cocktails.

Village Whiskey is another casual dining room – an American/Burgers/Whiskey Bar featuring “the best damn burgers in town with a SERIOUS drink menu.”

Volver is the showcase – a Contemporary American Upscale dining room where food becomes art. Chef Garces’ signature dishes are driven by the finest ingredients and feature an 8 or 12 course tasting menu. It is billed as “Culinary luxury at its best.”

Garces Trading Company has one location at Cira Center in downtown Philadelphia at 1111 Locust Street. This week marked the grand opening of a second Garces Trading Company, which is located in the Kimmel Center across the hall from Volver.

“The original Garces Trading Company opened in 2010 inPhiladelphia,” said Garces, during a phone interview Monday afternoon.

“We relaunched the brand last year when we opened in Cira Center in mid-October. The menus are similar, but we have some unique items in both places.”

“The hours at the Kimmel location will be seven days a week from 7 a.m.-4 p.m.,” said Garces. “There will also be extended hours to 11 p.m. when there are performances on campus.”

Both Volver and Garces Trading Company offer easy dining options form people attending events at the Kimmel Center, the Miller Theater and the Academy of Music.

According to Garces, “Since opening Volvér in 2014, the Kimmel Cultural Campus and the Garces brand have had a special relationship, and I’m so pleased to be able to continue to grow that as we bring Garces Trading Company to campus. This major opening continues our expansion plans into the new year. It also adds another reason to visit the Avenue of the Arts as it goes through a historic transformation with new restaurants, retail and residences.

“Garces Trading Company is really special to me. The concept is centered around an exchange of cultures that neighbors, friends, family members, coworkers and creatives can explore and connect over new dishes and flavors. Garces Trading Company is truly an outpost for foodies that incorporates discovery and connections, and I am excited to bring new life back to the GTC idea in an all-new way. I couldn’t think of a better place to give this idea new life.”

Since opening his first restaurant, Amada, in 2005, Chef Jose Garces has emerged as an enormous talent and one of the nation’s most gifted chefs and restaurateurs. His eponymous Garces Group operates restaurants in Philadelphia, Pa.; Chicago, Ill.; Scottsdale, Ariz.; Palm Springs, Calif.; and Atlantic City, N.J.

Garces is the owner of 40-acre Luna Farm in Bucks County, Pa., where he and his team grow much of the produce for his Philadelphia restaurants. He is also the proprietor of one of the nation’s best-loved food trucks, Guapos Tacos, which is available for private events and can often be found on the streets of his adopted hometown of Philadelphia.

The new Garces Trading Company features 1,700 square feet of space, with seating for 55 guests inside, with additional seating for 20 guests outside during nice weather. The open-kitchen concept also features a full-service made-to-order coffee bar, grab-and-go cases and a specialized marketplace.

Breakfast offerings will feature locally sourced partners, when possible, to promote community connections, and include house-made ensaimadas (Spanish bagels), house-made Spanish pastries, croissants, breakfast sandwiches and tacos, plus yogurts, fruit, quiches, overnight oats and other favorites. Breakfast will be counter service and grab-and-go. Lunch offerings will focus on soups, salads, sandwiches, other handhelds and more.

Some of the featured items are The Bravo! (Country Ham  | Amish butter | baguette), The Standing Ovation (Chicken pot pie | garden peas | root vegetables | puff pastry), The Spotlight (Braised Short Rib I Whipped polenta | winter vegetables | horseradish gremolata) and El Puente coffee.

“The menu will vary from time to time,” said Garces, whose family is from Quito, Ecuador. “We’re going to update it seasonally.”

Garces Trading Company will also offer a marketplace with grab-and-go offerings including Garces’ famous lavender truffle honey, salsas, tortilla chips, guacamole, spice blends (with uses and/or recipes), hummus, chocolate bars, chocolate covered espresso beans, signature coffees and much more.

Select highlights include Triangle Roasters Craft Chocolate Bars (made in Philly from ethically sourced, single-origin cocoa beans), Palacios Chorizo Bites (made in Spain), Tamalitoz Mexican Hard Candy (from Mexico City), Stroopies Stroopwafels (traditional Dutch cookies made in Lancaster), Icaro Yerba Mate and De La Calle Tepache (a centuries-old fermented probiotic beverage made in Mexico with pineapple at its core).

Garces Trading Company (www.garcestradingcompany.com) on the Kimmel Campus is located at 300 South Broad Street in Philadelphia.

If you’re into hot cars, then cold days probably won’t slow you down and keep you from your date with all things motorsports this weekend.

The 37th Annual Motorsports Race Car & Trade Show will be held on January 20 and 21 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 2020 Fueled by Sunoco Race Fuels and Distributed by Insinger Performance Race Car and Trade Show.”

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, including a pair of legends – Billy Pauch and Bruce Lawson.

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 20 and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. on January 21. Tickets are $15.

The Chinese zodiac is a rotating cycle of 12 years in which each year is represented by a specific animal and its characteristics — rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

Year of the Rabbit

2023 is the “Year of the Rabbit” according to Chinese zodiac.

On January 21, there will be a special event in Philadelphia to welcome in the “Year of the Rabbit” when the Penn Museum  (33rd and Spruce streets, Philadelphia, 215-898-4000, www.penn.museum) hosts its 42nd Annual Chinese New Year Celebration from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

The popular annual event in Philadelphia will feature celebrations of Chinese culture and New Year traditions throughout the day with programs and activities for all ages, including children’s workshops, storytelling, cooking demonstrations, arts and crafts exhibitions and martial and healing arts demonstrations.

Many communities recognize Lunar New Year, including those who identify with Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Tibetan cultures. The holiday traditionally begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends 15 days later on the first full moon. This festive holiday originated as a time to rest from farm work and be with loved ones. The diverse customs of Lunar New Year include feasting, exchanging gifts, lighting exquisite lanterns, and making offerings to gods and ancestors.

Visitors can celebrate the Year of the Rabbit by enjoying the traditional Lion Dance, performed by Penn Lions, the University of Pennsylvania’s premier Chinese Lion Dance troupe, as well as other traditional and contemporary music and dance performances. This celebration is perfect for all ages, with storytelling and make-and-take activities throughout the day.

There will be dance performances, Chinese music demonstrations, a Tai Chi workshop, a Kung Fu demonstration, a Family Zodiac tour and a Tangram Workshop.

The annual celebration will, as always, feature the “Lion Dance.” Lion dancers and drummers begin inside at 3:44 p.m. and, weather permitting, wind their way outside for a firecracker finale.

Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for senior citizens, $13 for students and free for children (under 6).

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 nine unique educational holes explore butterfly metamorphosis, a tropical rain forest, evolution, dinosaur extinction, food chains, and more. It’s perfect for kids of all ages. The entire family will enjoy playing miniature golf while learning about our environment – every step of the way.

The mini-course is open daily from 9 a.m. -5 p.m. through March 26. Tickets are $5.

Every Saturday in January, the Chaddsford Winery (632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, 610-388-6221, http://www.chaddsford.com) will present “Murder Mystery Nights 2023” from 6:30-9 p.m. each night.

Here is the scenario as posted by the winery – “Do you have what it takes to crack the case? Help the CFW Crew collect evidence, follow the leads, and uncover the mastermind during this interactive event that’s part murder mystery, part wine pairing dinner.

Deep within the cellars of Chaddsford Winery sits the world’s most elusive bottle of wine that’s worth a cool $3,000,00. The first and only of its vintage, it is now a high-volume target. Only the most brazen of crews could pull off a heist like this – enter the infamous Great Lakes – five of the craftiest thieves in the world.

With so much on the line, tensions run high. When one of the group winds up dead, there’s nowhere else to look than the person beside you. Join the crew to sleuth their way to this mysterious bottle of wine and hopefully—the killer.”

Along with an evening of drama, you’ll enjoy a full, five-course dinner and some strikingly delicious PA wine!

A five-course dinner, presented by J. Scott Catering, will be delivered as a roving dining experience spread out at stations throughout the building.

The Barrel Room will have Local Cheese + Charcuterie Board, Market Vegetable Station with Tomato Gorgonzola Dip and Roasted Garlic Bean Dip. This will be paired with 2021 Sparkling White.

The Bottling Line features Salad Station paired with 2021 The White Standard while the West Tank Room offers Gemelli Pasta with Braised Short Rib, Gorgonzola, Cherry Veal Ragout, and Crispy Carrot and Chickpea Rotini with Vegan Pesto, Broccoli, Tomato, Lemon, Artichoke, Wilted Arugula and Pine Nuts paired with 2021 Presage.

In the Reserve Room, there will be Rolled & Stuffed Pork Loin in a Spicy Orange Maple Glaze with Butternut Squash Puree and Charred Brussel Sprouts and Vegan Stuffed Poblano with Wild Rice, Roasted Corn, Black Beans, Cilantro, Vegan Cheddar Chipotle and Tomato Puree paired with 2020 Harbinger and 2022 Piquette.

At the end, the Tasting Room will feature Assorted Miniature Desserts paired with Holiday Spirit and YAAIMH Coffee

Chaddsford Winery is also presenting “Reserve Tastings – Festive Faves” on select Saturdays and Sundays in January.

Guests will join the CFW Crew for an intimate and educational 60-minute experience in the Barrel Room. The trained staff will guide them through a pre-selected tasting of five widely diverse and award-winning wines from across our portfolio. The selections will be paired alongside seasonal local cheeses and other accoutrements to enhance your tasting experience.

The staff will also discuss topics such as grape growing conditions at our partner vineyards and the onsite winemaking process from production to aging and bottling.

The 2023 Pairing Line Up is – Greeting Wine: 2021 Sparkling White; ’21 Chardonnay with Farm at Doe Run 7 Sister Cheese; ’21 Dry Rosé: Redux with Calkins Creamery Noblette Cheese and Strawberry Lavender Jam; ’20 Merlot with Èclat Chocolate Coffee and Cardamom Bar; and Holiday Spirit with OsoSweet Bakery Cafe chocolate cinnamon scone.

Reserve seatings are $35 per person.

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 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sundays.

Tickets cost $40 per person and reservations are required.

In a different take on wine and cheese events, Harvest Ridge Winery (1140 Newark Road, Toughkenamon) will present a delicious “Mac N Cheese Pairing” on January 15 at 1 p.m.

The winery will be pairing four different “mac n cheese” dishes created by its Field of Dreams food truck with four Harvest Ridge wines or Rebel Seed ciders.

This is a “do at your own pace” pairing. Tickets are $25.

For the next few months, the American Swedish Historical Museum (1900 Pattison Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-389-1776, www.americanswedish.org) is presenting an exhibit “Art for All: The Swedish Experience in Mid-America,” which will run through February 19.

“Art for All: The Swedish Experience in Mid-America” is an exhibition of paintings and sculptures by Swedish American artists in the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

This colorful and emotive impressionist art reflects its own time, interprets nature and landscape, and is independent of artificial conventions while keeping Swedish folk traditions alive.

The American Swedish Historical Museum is proud to present Art for All: The Swedish Experience in Mid-America, an exhibition of paintings and sculptures by Swedish American artists in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. This colorful and emotive impressionist art reflects its own time, interprets nature and landscape, and is independent of artificial conventions while keeping Swedish folk traditions alive.

This exhibition features many Swedish artists who studied and absorbed the democratic philosophies of “art for all,” espoused by Anders Zorn and the Artist’s League. These young artists immigrated to America to forge new career paths. “Art for all” became a catchphrase in Kansas by the 1930s, stemming from efforts of local artists to offer affordable paintings and prints so that every citizen could have original art in their own homes for a richly cultured way of life.

“Art for All: The Swedish Experience in Mid-America” was conceived and developed by the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery and the Hillstrom Museum of Art.


Sesame Place (100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, www.sesameplace.com) may be closed for park rides and activities but there’s still furry fun to be had.

This weekend’s special event will be “Abby’s Magical Magician Ball Dine” on January 21 & 22. It is the second of five themed dining experiences throughout January and February.

Visitors can join Abby Cadabby, her Sesame Street friends, and a special magician for an enchanting soiree that will put their wands to work. They will be able to enjoy a delicious buffet meal and watch in awe as magician, Sam Sandler, performs his spellbinding tricks and spectacular illusions right before their eyes.

There will also be a special meet and greet on the way into “Abby’s Magical Magician Ball Dine.”

Other upcoming special dining events are Ernie’s Birthday Bash Dine (January 28 & 29), Elmo’s Rockin’ Birthday Dine (February 4 & 5) and My Fuzzy Valentine Dine (February 11 and 12).

Theme park admission and parking fees are not required for entry.

Tickets for the dining events are $44.99 (ages 10 and older) and $24.99 for children (ages 2-9). Advanced dining reservation is required.

Not far from Sesame Place is another Bucks County attraction – 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 now through January 28.

Timed tickets, which start at $40, are required.

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.

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.

In addition, a full lineup of free attractions areoffered, including the Rothman Orthopaedic Institute Cabin.

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.

Dilworth Park’s winter season will run until February 26.

Winter has arrived and the Blue Cross RiverRink (Delaware Avenue at Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-925-RINK, www.riverrink.com) has come back to life.

Unlike most of the suburban ice rinks, RiverRink features public skating. Ice skating is the only use of the ice. This winter, RiverRink takes the ice-skating experience on the Delaware River waterfront to another level by once again transforming the annual rink into a bona fide winter wonderland.

For 29 seasons, Winterfest has been Philadelphia’s favorite Winter tradition on the Delaware River Waterfront, inviting visitors for a chance to indulge in flights of fancy under thousands of sparkling lights in a winter wonderland with spectacular views of the Delaware River. Cozy up in comforting warming cabins, firepit stations, boardwalk rides and games for the young and young-at-heart, delicious food and hot beverages, the signature holiday tree, and, of course, ice skating on our NHL-sized rink. Winterfest is a top destination for anyone looking to rekindle family traditions.

The Winterfest site is free to enter and open to the public. Amenities such as ice skating and cabin and firepit experiences can be reserved in advance. Winterfest is open seven days a week including holidays through March 5.

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.

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