Get Away: Icy Fun
Plus, Philly's festive holiday lights
You don’t have to be a hotel guest to enjoy ICE!, the main attraction in Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center’s holiday celebrations. This year, artisans from Harbin, China, will hand carve more than 2 million pounds of ice into seven rooms of colorful sculptures—and two-story slides—that bring to life the classic tale of Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town. An area called the Frostbite Factory will give visitors a behind-the-scenes look at ice sculptors using chain saws, ice picks and paintbrushes. Inside Gaylord National, kids can take part in events such as an Elf on the Shelf-inspired scavenger hunt, gingerbread house decorating, and brunch with Santa (Dec. 13 and 20). And don’t miss the atrium’s focal point: a nightly fountain show with 2 million twinkling lights that “dance” on a 55-foot-tall Christmas tree, complete with indoor snowfall. The festivities run from Nov. 21 to Jan. 3. ICE! prices begin at $28 for adults, $20 per child. Holiday overnight packages at the Maryland hotel start at $219 per night for a family of four. Visit www.christmasonthepotomac.com for times, discounts and package information.
HOLIDAY BY THE FIRE
Want someone else to do the cooking (and cleaning) this holiday season? Consider gathering your family in Williamsburg, Virginia, for a Colonial-era inspired, farm-to-table Thanksgiving dinner that includes roasted turkey, sage stuffing and a sweet potato casserole. The meal is part of Kingsmill Resort’s Thanksgiving package, which includes a stay in a one-, two- or three-bedroom condo with a wood-burning fireplace (a bellman delivers wood and starts the fire), full breakfast buffet and free rides to Colonial Williamsburg. The resort also has a new million-dollar spa, which opened in January. Massages, facials and an array of holistic treatments are offered. The package is available Nov. 25-Dec. 1; $239-269 per night for a one-bedroom condo, $566 for a two-bedroom (two-night minimum required). Kingsmill’s Holiday Tradition package, available Dec. 23-28, includes similar perks, plus a condo decked out with a real Christmas tree (two-bedroom from $559 per night). For more, visit www.kingsmill.com.
Photo by Laszlo Bodo, Courtesy of Winterthur Museum
REFLECT ON CHRISTMAS PAST
In Delaware’s historic Brandywine Valley, Winterthur is the former estate of horticulturist Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969)—great-grandson of Éleuthère Irénée du Pont de Nemours, founder of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.—and also home to a world-renowned collection of 90,000 antiques and decorative objects. Each year the estate is transformed for Yuletide events that recreate the family’s home during holidays past, including an extravagant dinner party setup on New Year’s Day in 1900, when the du Ponts celebrated their first 100 years in America. Roughly a dozen Christmas trees will grace the mansion and gardens this year, from one bejeweled in Tiffany glass, to one decorated in dried flowers, to one inspired by H.F. du Pont’s boyhood collection of rocks and shells. Admission is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and students, and $5 for children ages 2 to 11. For more, visit winterthur.org.
Photo by Matt Stanley, Courtesy of Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest
PHILLY'S FESTIVE MUSIC AND LIGHTS
The City of Brotherly Love offers many seasonal celebrations for people of all faiths. Three favorites:
Electrical Spectacle in Franklin Square is a holiday light show that features more than 50,000 lights (including a 10-foot-tall lighted kite), a holiday train, carousel rides and miniature golf with warming stations. Nov. 12-Dec. 31 (except Thanksgiving and Christmas), visit historicphiladelphia.org for details.
Visit Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest for ice-skating under the stars, roasting s’mores and lounging at “The Lodge,” a 400-person warming tent that’s home to plump sofas, chandeliers and live fireside music. Nov. 27-March 6,
$3 entrance fee, no charge if you’re a Blue Cross insurance cardholder. For more, visit www.riverrink.com.
A tradition since 1956, Macy’s Christmas Light Show is set to symphonic music from the historic Wanamaker Organ, the world’s largest operating pipe organ. Located inside the Wanamaker Building, the free daily show features more than 100,000 LED lights, recorded narration by Julie Andrews, and organ performances. Visit wanamakerorgan.com for dates and showtimes; make sure to note when the organ is played live, versus a recording.
For a full list of holiday events and hotel information, go to www.visitphilly.com.