When we look back at the run-up to this year’s winter holidays, what will we remember? Endless drive-through light shows? Virtual performances? Whispering to Santa through acrylic glass? Finally loving masks for warming our cold noses? All of the above?
For every tradition preserved — ice skating at the RiverRink — there seem to be at least twice as many reinventions. Sesame Place has hopped aboard the drive-through train. Nutcracker tea parties take place on Zoom. Closed museums transform scientists, historians, and curators into online influencers. It’s all a bit weird. Might as well go with it.
Blue Cross RiverRink
Mon.-Thurs. 1–11 p.m., Fri. 1 p.m.–1 a.m., Sat. 11 a.m.–1 a.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–11 p.m. through March 7 (holiday hours vary), tickets at delawareriverwaterfront.com, $5 admission, $10 skate rental, (ages 4 & up)
No one is suggesting anyone blows off school or work to take a 90-minute spin around a Delaware River-side ice rink. But if you were to need an easy escape from the house, no one would blame you for booking tickets online, ponying up $20 to park, and lacing up a pair of intensely disinfected rental skates for a complete change of scenery and a total change of spirit. On Dec. 14–18 from 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., the big, blue, plastic skating helpers are free for kids to borrow.
Sesame Place Hanukkah Celebration & Christmas Drive-Thru
Hanukkah celebration: 4:30 p.m. Sun. and Fri. A Very Furry Christmas at the park, select dates through Jan. 3. Park admission $36 ages 2 and up. Christmas Drive-Thru: 5–8 p.m. Tues. & Weds., and select dates through Jan. 10, $45 per car, $65 per minibus. Tickets for all holiday offerings at sesameplace.com/philadelphia, (all ages)
Sesame Place has redecorated and reopened for holiday pedestrian exploration, mini train rides, photos with Rudolph and Santa, a few holiday shows, and, this week only, a dusk-time menorah lighting featuring Grover, Baby Bear, and a cantor in an outdoor theater. The ever-enterprising Bucks County kiddie land is also following in the tire tracks of attractions nationwide by turning an adjacent parking lot into a drive-through complete with a lighted tunnel, candy cane lane, and characters to wave to through car windows.
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
2 p.m. Weds. through midnight Dec. 25, tickets at paballet.org/nutcracker, $25 single performance, $50 10-day access, $15 per household per tea party or $50 for all four tea parties, (ages 5 & up)
On a computer monitor, there’s not quite the same grandeur to a Pennsylvania Ballet performance of The Nutcracker as there is in the Academy of Music, but it’s the only way to keep the tradition going this year. Same with the preperformance tea parties, which, instead of serving tea and sandwiches, include — on four dates — decorating hula hoops with Candy Cane, learning dance steps and tiara placement with the Sugarplum Fairy, making tissue paper flowers with Dew Drop, or, the piece de resistance, listening to story time with Mother Ginger. Via Zoom. Of course.
History Explorers: Mountains of Ice and Snow
3:30–4 p.m. Weds., tickets at amrevmuseum.org/events, $7, (ages 7–11)
The Museum of the American Revolution comes to the rescue during that precarious hour when school is out — but work is on. The live history lesson about the Continental Army’s blizzard-filled 1775 transport of 59 cannons from Fort Ticonderoga, N.Y., to Boston has winter weather drama with a side of physics. There will be artifacts and a diorama, too, which, with any luck, will inspire tomorrow’s after-school activity.
Franklin Outside Scavenger Hunt
11–11:30 a.m. Thurs., live on Facebook @TheFranklinInstitute, free, (ages 14 & up)
Franklin Institute environmental scientist and rising superstar Rachel Valletta tackles a 2020 debacle we’d nearly forgotten: lanternflies. While we go around, blissfully not swatting invasive insects, Valletta and peers are developing solutions to keep those lovely, exasperating pests at bay. Live on Facebook, or afterward on YouTube.