Get Away: Holiday Escapes 2015
Tis the season (almost) for ice carving, spectacles of light, yuletide pampering and vintage Christmas displays in the mid-Atlantic.
You don’t have to be a hotel guest to enjoy ICE!, the main attraction in Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center’s holiday celebrations. Artisans from Harbin, China, will hand-carve more than 2 million pounds of ice into seven rooms of colorful sculptures—and two-story slides—while an area called the Frostbite Factory will offer a behind-the-scenes look at ice sculptors at work. 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. The festivities run from Nov. 21 to Jan. 3. ICE! prices begin at $28 for adults, $20 per child. Visit www.christmasonthepotomac.com for details.
PHILLY 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 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); historicphiladelphia.org
❄ Visit Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest for ice skating under the stars, roasting s’mores and lounging at “The Lodge,” a 400-person warming tent with live fireside music. Nov. 27-March 6, $3 entrance free, no charge if you’re a Blue Cross insurance cardholder; 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; wanamakerorgan.com
For a full list of holiday events and hotels, go to www.visitphilly.com.
Delaware’s historic Brandywine Valley is home to Winterthur, 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 to re-create the family’s home during holidays past, including an extravagant dinner party setup on New Year’s Day in 1900. Roughly a dozen Christmas trees will grace the mansion and gardens this year, from one bejeweled in Tiffany glass to another 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 details, visit winterthur.org.
A PAMPERED ESCAPE
Want someone else to do the cooking this holiday season? Head to Williamsburg, Virginia for a Colonial-era inspired Thanksgiving dinner that includes roasted turkey, sage stuffing and sweet potato casserole. The meal is part of the Thanksgiving package (available Nov. 25-Dec. 1) at Kingsmill Resort, which includes a stay in a one-, two-, or three-bedroom condo with a wood-burning fireplace, full breakfast buffet and free rides to Colonial Williamsburg. The resort also has a new million-dollar spa, which opened in January. Kingsmill’s Holiday Tradition package, available Dec. 23-28, includes similar perks plus a condo decked out with a real Christmas tree. Visit www.kingsmill.com for prices and details.