Hey, what's the deal? Isn't it supposed to be almost winter? Last weekend, the thermometer hit a near-record high, and it's looking like there won't be a white Christmas. But enjoy it: There's a world of outdoor activities awaiting you around the city. We've put together a few happening this weekend that manage to far surpass spending your Saturday snuggled up inside.
Now is the time to pull out that absurdly embroidered sweater neglected in the back of your closet and wear it with pride. On Saturday, join thousands of runners, walkers, and prancers at Philly's own Ugly Sweater Run, marketed as the "the merriest 5K of the year." The 3.1-mile course winds through Fairmount Park, with holiday-theme stations at every mile marker - including a giant inflatable Santa and snow machines - and festive music to keep you moving.
Cool off at the end with a Samuel Adams beer, and afterward, warm back up with a cup of hot cocoa. Then fill up another mug - unlimited hot chocolate comes with every ticket - while you stick around to watch post-run contests with categories for Best Ugly Sweater, Best Kids Sweater, Best Pet Attire, and Best Real/Fake Beard/Mustache (in case you find your Santa scruff superior to your sweater threads). Even better, consider participating in a contest.
8 a.m. Saturday, Fairmount Park, 4231 Avenue of the Republic. Register online
for the run at www.theuglysweaterrun.com.
The Philly area offers several scenic city spots to work it on skates.
The Rothman Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park is open for its second year outside City Hall. Bring your own skates or rent them for $9 per pair. When you're done gliding around the ice, tip your winter hat to Billy Penn and then head inside to the Rothman cabin. Just steps away from the rink, hot chocolate, coffee, and Cuban burgers are fired up in a wood-walled tent where you can warm up and refuel.
If you prefer the riverfront view, head to the Blue Cross RiverRink at Penn's Landing for Winterfest. An Olympic-size rink awaits, where you can skate the night away. Skate rental is available for $10. It's easy to hang out there for hours, with on-site arcade games, an array of eats from the Garces Group, and photo-worthy views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Best of all, there are several fire pits throughout the premises to cozy up to when your hands get cold and where you can cook up some well-earned s'mores. For indoor flames, wander into the Lodge, two heated tents decked out with fireplaces, couches, and more.
Prefer South Jersey to the city? Cooper River Park has its own Winter Fest that's open until Valentine's Day. You're in luck this weekend, especially if you're late on your Christmas shopping. The rink will host a holiday pop-up shop from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. After the pop-up closes up shop, an ice-skating show will take to the rink. If you prefer to watch, check out one of the rink's regular shows at 7 p.m. Fridays; 3 and 7 p.m. Saturdays; and 2 p.m. Sundays.
Rothman Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park; 1 S. 15th St., west side of City Hall. Hours: Noon-9 p.m. Mon.-Thu.; noon-11 p.m. Fri.; 11 a.m.- 11 p.m. Sat.; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun. Tickets: $3 children 10 and under; $5 adults; $9 skate rental. Information: 215-983-1291 or www.ccdparks.org.
Blue Cross RiverRink; 101 S. Columbus Blvd.; Hours: 11-1 a.m. daily through Jan. 3. Tickets: $3; $10 skate rental. Information: 215-925-7465 or www.delawareriverwater
Cooper River Park, 5300 N. Park Dr., Pennsauken. Hours: 4-9 p.m. Mon.-Thu.; 5-10 p.m. Fri.; noon-10 p.m. Sat.; noon-
9 p.m. Sun. Tickets: Free for children 4 and younger; $5 children 5-12; $5 adults; $3 skate rental (all ages). Information: 856-341-3416 or www.skatewinterfest.com.
If Vegas had a family-friendly farm sprouting at its center, it likely would look something like Longwood Gardens does during the holidays. More than 500,000 lights illuminate the Kennett Square mainstay. Fountains flicker to holiday tunes, rising and falling in a choreographed dance. Starting Friday, catch daily Christmas performances from local choirs and organists at various times throughout the weekend. Imagine how wonderfully peaceful "Silent Night" will sound coming from Longwood's 10,101-pipe Aeolian organ. On the grounds, marvel at 100-plus trees trimmed with 40 miles of colorful lights and decorated with handmade ornaments and garlands.
Longwood Gardens has plenty to offer indoors, as well. The four-acre conservatory holds 16,000 seasonal plants, including lots of Christmas-red poinsettias and a classic Fraser fir adorned with 2,000 crystal ornaments. All of that sparkle attracts loads of visitors, so be sure to secure a ticket online in advance.
Longwood Gardens Christmas, 1001 Longwood Rd., Kennett Square, through Jan. 10; hours: 9 a.m. -10 p.m. daily. Tickets: Admission is timed; free for children younger than 4; $13 children ages 5-18; $27 adults.
On Friday, step into Dickens' holiday classic in this 90-minute tour that takes you to three of Fairmount Park's grand 18th- and 19th-century homes. At the start, a guide in Victorian attire will introduce you to old Fezziwig, Mrs. Cratchit, and Scrooge. The characters await you at each of the three houses, starting with Mount Pleasant and then moving on to Cedar Grove and Lemon Hill.
Expect Mrs. Cratchit to talk about her famous plum pudding while serving up cookies and cider, and Scrooge will throw in a few guest-participation surprises when he meets you at the end. The event closes with group caroling. Trolleys will run every 30 minutes from 5:30 to 8 p.m.