What To Do: Trolls at the Philadelphia Zoo

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Trolls at the Philadelphia Zoo

The Philadelphia Zoo has been a habitat for an amazing array of animals ever since its opening day in July 1874. Now, for the next two-and-one-half months, the Zoo will be home to a sextet of Trolls.

Now through April 15, the Philadelphia Zoo (3400 West Girard Avenue, Philadelphia) is hosting the East Coast debut of Thomas Dambo’s “TROLLS: Save the Humans,” produced by Imagine Exhibitions. This represents the first-ever winter feature experience at Philadelphia Zoo.

The world’s leading “recycle” artist has created these six, folklore-inspired Trolls using repurposed wood. The Trolls are on a mission to inspire humans to take better care of nature. The Trolls, ranging up to 15 feet tall, will be located throughout the Zoo’s 42-acre campus.

“TROLLS” were created by artist Thomas Dambo, who currently lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Born in Odense, Denmark in 1979, Dambo’s mission is to create art that inspires people to explore, have adventures in nature, and show that recycled goods can be turned into something beautiful.

Before embarking on the path of building larger-than-life troll sculptures, Dambo led a multi-faceted life that allowed him to express his creativity via music, street art, and scenic design. After graduating from the Kolding Design School in Kolding, Denmark, with a master’s degree in interactive design, Thomas began his journey of using recycled materials to create colorful art installations, building the foundation for his artwork today.

Dambo’s colossal troll sculptures range in height from 16-50 feet and ‘live’ as permanent or semi-permanent installations in parks, greenspaces, industrial parks, and in other site-specific locations around the world. Each folklore-inspired sculpture is imbued with expression and character and is built entirely from reclaimed materials.

In the Spring of 2018, Dambo unveiled a temporary exhibition of “TROLLS” at The Morton Arboretum just outside of Chicago, IL. The exhibition was an enormous success, leading to the garden’s two highest attended years in its nearly 100-year history. During the run of the exhibition, 1.26 million people visited the arboretum.

Each Troll has a unique name and story.

They all believe rethinking how we live our daily lives will help save the planet for all animals, including humans, and they want to share their ideas. They want all humans to reduce trash, reuse everything, and recycle when they can. The Trolls believe that these actions and others to protect wildlife and wild places are important steps to help save the planet for all animals, including humans.
There are six Trolls who will be taking up residence at the Philadelphia Zoo through April 15.

Ronja Redeye is The Trolls’ fearless leader who is ready to welcome guests to Philadelphia Zoo. Her mission is to encourage guests to rethink ways to minimize trash.

Rosa Sunfinger is the Troll with a green thumb. She wants guests to find ways to renew the habitats around them and plant native plants wherever they can to create habitats for pollinators.

Sofus Lotus is the Troll who loves to listen. He likes to get down on the ground to hear the sounds of all wild things. His mission is to inspire guests to reconnect and learn from nature.

Ibbi Pip is the Troll in charge of finding new uses for old things. Her passion is reusing old wood to create bird houses, providing a home for these animals to feel safe and raise their chicks.

Kamma Can is the Troll who’s a pro at recycling. She created her beautiful jewelry from plastic that would otherwise pollute wild places.

Basse Buller is the Troll who refuses to give up on protecting the planet. He is on a mission to motivate guests to refuse the habits humans have that hurt nature.

“TROLLS” are stomping through the Zoo through April 15. The exhibition is included in admission to the Zoo. Admission prices start at $19 for adults and children. Tickets are now available on philadelphiazoo.org.

Valentine’s Day arrives in the middle of February and is a special day for gifting and consuming chocolate delights and fine wine.

Many wineries around the area have found a way to elevate moods – and get a Valentine’s Day vibe going — by presenting events that feature wine and chocolate tastings.

Every Saturday and Sunday in February, the Chaddsford Winery (632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, 610-388-6221, http://www.chaddsford.com) is presenting “Reserve Tastings – Wine & Chocolate.”

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 the 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 2024 Pairing Line Up is: Sparkling White paired with Spiced Pear Bonbon; Dry Rosé: Redux paired with Passion Fruit Bonbon; Harbinger Red Blend paired with Star Anise Bonbon; Good Vibes Only paired with Pennsylvania Dutch Dark Chocolate Pretzel Bar; and Revolution (fortified, port-style wine) paired with Bolivian Nacional Bonbon.

Reserve seatings are $35 per person.

Wine & Chocolate Pairings at Penns Woods

The “Wine & Chocolate Pairings at Penns Woods” at Penns Wood Winery (124 Beaver Valley Road, Chadds Ford, 610-459-0808, http://www.pennswoodswinery.com) provide a nice way for visitors to enjoy a winter weekend day.

Penns Woods Winery is featuring a pairing which includes a tasting of four wines perfectly paired with four handcrafted chocolates from Good Good Chocolates.

The mouth-watering tastings will be held every weekend in February from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sundays.

Tickets cost $36 per person and reservations are required.

Harvest Ridge Winery (1140 Newark Road, Toughkenamon, www.harvestridgewinery.com) will present a “Truffle & Wine Pairing” on February 4.

The event will feature an amazing pairing of four different types of chocolate truffles from Neuchatel Chocolate in Oxford and select Harvest Ridge wines.

Tickets for the event, which starts at 1 p.m., are $25.

On February 3, the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center (100 Station Road, Oaks, phillyexpocenter.com) is hosting “Philly Chocolate Wine and Whiskey Festival 2024.”

Guests will be able to enjoy chocolate in a variety of decadent presentations — from sweet hand-rolled truffles to gooey melted chocolate fondue and an amazing selection of bean-to-bar artisan chocolates. They can also quench their thirst with Champagne, Prosecco and premium wines and a sip of fine whiskies.

Other featured delicacies are cupcakes, cookies, cakes, candies, macarons, cake pops, bean-to-bar chocolates, popcorn, pretzels, artisan cheeses, charcuterie, and donuts.

Included in the ticket price are chocolate samples, wine glass and unlimited pours of premium wines, select craft beers and ciders, unlimited samples of whiskies along with other spirits from Pennsylvania Distilleries, Wineries and Cideries, chocolate fondue bar, Boozy Milkshakes and Candy Cocktails and other sweet and savory items including cookies, cakes and cheeses.

The event will run from 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

Ticket prices start at $69.

First Friday in West Chester (www.downtownwestchester.com) will take place on the evening of February 2.

Shops and boutiques are open late on the First Friday of each month to show off their newest seasonal fashions and giftware items.

Visitors to the borough for the free “rain or shine” event will be able to browse the in-store specials and enjoy complimentary refreshments while they explore the variety of unique items each shop has to offer.

Kildare’s Irish Pub (18 West Gay Street) will feature “Dueling Pianos” from 7-10 p.m. The Philly Keys are all about bringing the Dueling Piano mentality of All Requests, Sing Along, Crowd Participation, and Great Musicianship – with Brian Aglira leading the show.

There will also be a Valentine Day Party at Blink (136 West Gay Street), an “Open Mic Night” at  Lacava Coffee Company (104 East Gay Street) and a free “First Friday Jazz Concert” featuring the Dave Wilson Group at Windish Studios (4 West Prescott Alley).

There will also be First Friday happenings in Lancaster tonight.

Lancaster’s popular First Friday (http://www.visitlancastercity.com/first-friday/) is an arts extravaganza that runs from 5-9 p.m. on February 4. Visitors to downtown Lancaster will have the opportunity to discover innovative exhibitions, performances and perhaps a few surprises as they walk the streets lined with trees and distinctive architecture.

Unique boutiques and excellent restaurants complement the art galleries, artisan studios, museums, performing groups, professional theater, symphony orchestra and art college that form Lancaster’s arts community.

February 3 is the day that The Ridley House & The Heritage Ballrooms (2107 MacDade Blvd., Holmes, 610-522-5400, www.ridleyhousepa.com) will be hosting its “10th Annual Freezefest.”

The event, which runs from noon Saturday until 2 a.m., will feature live cover bands and DJs along with several themed rooms. It will also host a giant outdoor ice bar, food court, photo booth, axe throwing trailer, custom heated tents, ballrooms, beer pong and cornhole tournaments, giveaways and interesting drink specials.

Ticket prices start at $9.99.

“Founders Philly Freeze Out in Manayunk” (Main Street, Manayunk, manayunk.com/events/founders-philly-freeze-out.html) is scheduled for February 3 from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m.

This pay-as-you-go, all-ages event features live music, ice carving demonstrations every hour, a winter market, hands-on activities, and food and drink specials at bars and restaurants throughout Manayunk.

Special activities include the Chowder Crawl, “Founders Freeze-Out Run” with Philadelphia Runner, free trolley rides, Snow Zone & Snowy Ice Igloo Experience, a Chinese New Year Lion Dance with New Leaf and live music.

On February 4, Laurel Hill Cemetery (3822 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-228-8200, www.thelaurelhillcemetery.org) will present  its “Tu B’Shevat Gathering & Tree Tour” from 1-3 p.m.

Visitors are invited to take part in a short tour of Laurel Hill West’s wintry arboretum in celebration of Tu B’Shevat, often called the Jewish New Year for the Trees

As the guides examine barks, buds, and berries, participants will learn about the historical, agricultural, and spiritual origins of Tu B’Shevat and how it is celebrated around the world today.

Afterward, indoors, they can enjoy Camuna Cellars wine along with fruits and nuts significant to the holiday and often consumed during Tu B’shevat Seders.

Admission is: $20/General Admission (Ages 13 and up); $18/Seniors (Ages 65+) and Students with ID; $10/Youth (Ages 6-12).

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

“Winter Wonder,” which runs now through March 24, 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.

Inside Longwood’s Conservatory, visitors can check out nearly 300 blooming orchids on display in the site’s Orchid House. There will also be rare blue poppies blooming in March but for only about 10 to 15 days.

Another popular attraction this year is Longwood Gardens’ “Science Saturdays” series.

Topics for Science Saturday events are “Plant Exploration in Tanzania” on February 10, “Longwood Research, Down to a Science” on February 24, “Managing Our Natural Lands” on March 9 and “Seed Science” on April 20.

Longwood custom grows a staggering 1,300 (and counting) types of plants each year for seasonal indoor displays and outdoor gardens … and each type has its own needs. While Longwood’s team utilizes its horticulture expertise to grow this diverse palette of plants, its innovative greenhouses further the capabilities to grow them precisely and efficiently, all while attending to each plant type’s individual needs.

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).

Hagley Museum and Library (Buck Road East entrance via Route 100, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-658-2400, www.hagley.org), a 230-acre historical village on the site of the original du Pont Company gunpowder mills in northern Delaware, has a popular attraction – “Nation of Inventors.”

“Nation of Inventors” celebrates the American spirit of ingenuity by taking visitors on a journey from the early years of the patent system, in the 1790s, through the “golden age” of American invention, in the late 1800s. The exhibit features more than 120 patent models from Hagley’s unique collection highlighting the diverse stories of inventors from all walks of life.

Patent models are scaled representations of inventions and were part of the patent application process for nearly 100 years. “Nation of Inventors” showcases patent models representing innovations in a variety of industries from transportation and manufacturing to food preservation and medical devices.

In the exhibition, visitors will enjoy engaging experiences around every corner, testing their knowledge of innovation and hearing personal accounts from inventors.

The patent models in “Nation of Inventors” were created between 1833 and 1886. “Nation of Inventors” not only features patent models submitted by inventors from the United States, but also models from inventors in England, France, Ireland, Russia, and Spain, demonstrating an international interest in America’s intellectual property system.

“Nation of Inventors” includes patent models from well-known inventors and companies like Ball (Mason Jars), Jim Beam, Bissell, Corliss, Steinway, and Westinghouse. The exhibit presents important topics and timely themes including women inventors, Black inventors, immigrant inventors, improvements in urban living, and the ways Americans learn about and understand progress and change.

“Nation of Inventors” is located on the first two floors of Hagley’s Visitor Center. Visitors can plan to spend about 30 minutes on their self-guided tour of the exhibition.

One of the most popular art shows each year is Malvern Retreat House’s Art Show (McShain-Horstmann Family Life Center, 315 South Warren Avenue, Malvern, 610-644-0400, www.MalvernRetreat.com).

While many shows are just weekend events, Malvern Retreat House’s 2024 Art Show is a five-day event now through February 4. The ambitious show will have more than 2,000 original works of art by more than 100 juried artists.

Show hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday. There will be free admission every day. All proceeds support only Malvern Retreat House programs.

On February 4, the Delaware Museum of Art (2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, Delaware, delart.org) will present a special program – “Art Is Tasty: The Springhouse by N.C. Wyeth.”

Visitors are invited to join a guided discussion of a work of art, then enjoy lunch in Kaffeina at the Thronson Café. Lunch preorders are highly recommended through advanced registration.

The feature artwork will be “The Springhouse,” which was painted in 1944 by N.C. Wyeth. The painting is an egg tempera on 37 x 48 inches hardboard.

Tickets are $18.

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 April 1. Tickets are $8.

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 “Elmo’s Rockin’ Birthday Dine,” the fourth of five themed dining experiences throughout January and February.

“Elmo’s Rockin’ Birthday Dine Bash Dine,” which will be held on February 3 and 4, runs approximately one hour from scheduled start time.

Advance dining reservations are required. Park admission is not required and there is no parking fee.

The other upcoming special dining event is “My Fuzzy Valentine Dine” on February 10 and 11.

Tickets for the dining events are $39.99 (ages 10 and older) and $19.99 for children (ages 2-9). Advanced dining reservation is required.

A warm way to enjoy railroads this weekend is to head to an indoor train exhibit.

Founded more than 50 years ago, Choo Choo Barn — Traintown U.S.A. (Route 741 East, 226 Gap Rd, Strasburg, 717-687-7911, www.choochoobarn.com) presents a 1,700-square-foot train layout featuring over 150 hand-built animated figures and vehicles and 22 operating trains. The majority of trains that are running in the display are “O Gauge” trains but there are also some HO Gauge trains as well as one N Gauge train.

Several of the original pieces and animations are still on the display today, including the ski slope, ski lodge and ice skaters, Dutch Haven, the Willows, the two-lane moving highway (in front of Dutch Haven), the farm with the tobacco barn, the Strasburg Fire House, the church beside Dutch Haven and a few other houses.

The layout features a special Christmas display now through January 17. The homes and businesses along the tracks have been decked out with holiday trim. And there are 55 hidden Santas — one for each year the site has been open — located around the display for visitors to find.

Tickets are $8.50 for adults and $5 for children (ages 3 and under) at Choo Choo Barn — Traintown U.S.A.

A popular annual Philly winter tradition can be found at the Rothman Orthopaedics Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park (1 South 15th Street, Philadelphia, http://ccdparks.org/dilworth-park).

Back in November, some of Philadelphia’s favorite winter traditions return to Dilworth Park. Visitors of all ages can enjoy a dramatic seasonal transformation as fountains are replaced by the Rothman Orthopaedic Institute Ice Rink and reindeer topiaries take up winter residence on the Greenfield Lawn.

In addition, a full lineup of free entertainment is featured, including the Deck the Hall Light Show, the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market and Rothman Orthopaedic Institute Cabin.

Dilworth Park’s winter season began in November with the opening of the Wintergarden on the Greenfield Lawn and the Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink and 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.

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.

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 $20.

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 $20.

Grim Philly’s “Dark Philly History Tour” (www.grimphilly.com) will be held every evening throughout the winter.

Participants can walk with tour guides from the grounds of America’s first White House, Congress, and Liberty Bell to homes and sites of Hamilton, Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and more than 10 other Founding-Fathers. The surprising dirt of espionage, murder, sexual license and blackmail highlight the secrets of 1776 with a ghost story or two along the way. This tour is highly researched. And your guide is a historian.

Tickets are $35.

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.

“TreeTrails Adventures Trevose” (301 West Bristol Pike, Trevose, treetrails.com/trevose-pa) is an adventure park full of fun challenges for outdoor adventurers of all ages.

Participants can experience the rush of TreeTrails Adventures as they swing through the trees of the new adventure park. They will be able to discover the excitement of climbing and zip lining above the forest floor with family, friends, co-workers, or teammates.

The park, which is based at Phoenix Sport Club in Bucks County, offers two ways to experience climbing – TreeTrails Adventure Park and KidTrails Park. Young explorers can enjoy miniaturized courses in the adjacent KidTrails Park.

General Park Admission prices are: Main Park Adult Tickets (Ages 12+), $59; Main Park Youth Tickets (Ages 7–11), $51; KidTrails Tickets (Ages 4–7), $12.

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