Posts Tagged “Kimmel Center”

Holiday Happenings – Christmas Festivities & Fun

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HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS – A compilation by Tom Hewitt


Let’s face it— The Holiday Season can be brutal. Sure, Christmas Morning is wonderful. We get to see the world through our children’s eyes, as they rip through presents under the tree. BUT getting to that point can be exhausting. There are so many demands on our schedule that we just don’t have the time to track down fun, educational things to do with our children.
Fear not, oh weary warrior! I have taken the time to compile a comprehensive list of “Holiday Happenings” for you. They range from the simple to the sublime, from free to the dear. I hope this list lightens your load and that you and your family get to partake in some of these festive outings.

Philadelphia Area

Metro Philadelphia offers many exciting events for your family and I highly suggest taking advantage of the “Philly PHLASH” bus system to get around town. It is the most convenient and affordable way to get to the major Holiday attractions. There are 22 stops along the route with a stop scheduled every 15 minutes. All PHLASH vehicles are wheelchair accessible and the price is right—$5 for an all-day pass, Children under four, and Seniors ride for free—They even offer discounted parking at area garages! It is easy to see why PHLASH was awarded a 2015 Certificate of Excellence on Trip Advisor. Advance tickets, a route map, and more details are available via the app at

“Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest”
Location: 101 South Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA Date: Now through March 6th, 2016
Admission: General Admission to the Winterfest is Free. Ice Skating is $3. Skate Rentals $10
Time: Monday—Thursday 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday 11: a.m. to 11 p.m.
Description: Winterfest is one of Philadelphia’s “must-see” winter attractions, offering family friendly activities, amazing holiday light displays, delicious food offerings, and of course, an Olympic sized skating rink overlooking the Delaware River. The site is adorned with holiday trees, warming huts, fire pits, and cozy seating. Special events are planned for Christmas Eve, Christmas day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. For More information call 215-925-RINK or visit

“Macy’s Christmas Light Show” and “Dickens Village”
Location: Macy’s, 1300 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA Date: Now through Dec 31, 2015
Admission: Free Time: Shows every day at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Description: A Philadelphia tradition since 1956!! Located inside the historic Wannamaker Building, the Christmas light show at Macy’s Center City will delight children of all ages. Watch with fascination as more than 100,000 LED lights create festive holiday images with story narration by Julie Andrews and a concert from the Wanamaker Grand Organ. After the light show, venture to the third floor of Macy’s and experience the 6,000 square foot “Dickens Village”, which brings the classic “A Christmas Carol” to life with more than 100 fully animated figures reenacting man of the story’s most memorable moments.

“Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer: The Musical”
Location: Merriam Theater 250 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19102
Date: December 17th – 20th , 2015
Admission: Family Circle – $30-$45; Balcony – $45-$55; Orchestra – $55-$70
Time: varies show times
Description: “The beloved TV classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer which “soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season. Join us in celebrating Rudolph’s 50 years on television and come see all of your favorite characters as they come to life in the all new Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical. It’s an adventure that teaches us that what makes you different can be what makes you special. “

“The Comcast Holiday Spectacular”
Location: 1701 JFK Blvd, Philadelphia, PA Date: Now through January 3rd, 2016
Admission: Free Time: Continuous shows from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Description: The “Market and Shops at Comcast Center” offer a variety of dining and shopping options. At the top of every hour you can experience an amazing video wall with one of the world’s highest resolution LED displays as dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet move to the music of the Nutcracker, a magical sleigh floats over the Philadelphia skyline and actors from the historic Walnut Street Theater perform—all to a seasonal soundtrack presented by a 64 piece orchestra.

“Christmas Spectacular by the Philly POPS!”
Location: Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, PA Date: Select dates, now through Dec 22nd, 2015
Admission: $32 to $121   Time: Matinee Shows at 3 p.m., Evening shows at 8 p.m.
Description: An uplifting performance for the entire family, the Philly Pops Christmas Spectacular features a special mix of joyous choirs, sing-a-longs, and a special visitor from the North Pole. This years’ performance features the POPS Festival Chorus, the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir, and the Philadelphia Boys Choir backed by renowned organist Peter Conte playing a magnificent 6,000 pipe organ. More information and tickets are available at

Bucks County

“Christmas in Peddler’s Village”
Location: Routes 202 and 263, Lahaska PA Date: Now through January 2nd, 2016
Admission: Free Time: Shops open at 10 a.m. Closing times vary
Description: Discover this historic and charming village featuring distinctive shopping, dining, and lodging options. For the Christmas season, the Village is beautifully decorated, Victorian –style, with fruit wreaths, holiday greenery and nearly one million sparkling lights. There is live entertainment, and special events are scheduled throughout December including The Christmas Festival Parade featuring Santa, Mrs. Claus, and all of Santa’s helpers. Check out the amazing display of sugary artistry at the “Gingerbread House Competition and Display”. You can visit the Giggleberry Fair, an indoor family fun center, and schedule a “Breakfast with Santa”. Not in the mood for breakfast? Then visit the Cock and Bull Restaurant and enjoy “Santa’s Brunch” or the “Nutcracker Tea”. The events and times are limited and require reservations. You can book online at or call 215-794-4051 for more information.

Sesame Place Christmas“A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place”
Location: 100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, PA Date: Select Dates through Dec. 31st, 2015
Admission: $25 (Good for Two Visits) online Time: Show times Vary
Description: Sesame Place has been transformed into a one-of-a-kind Christmas wonderland with millions of lights, festive decorations, and whirling rides. Visit “Cookie’s Monster Land” featuring five rides, a three story net climb, and a soft play area for toddlers. Enjoy live shows including “Elmo the Musical-Christmas”, “1-2-3 Christmas Tree”, and the “Elmo’s Christmas Wish”. Ride the Sesame Place Furry Express train through Twiddlebugs’ Gingerbread Cookie Factory. Surely, you won’t want to miss the NEW Neighborhood Street Party Christmas Parade. The parade features ten fantastic floats and Elmo’s special rap to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. The parade finale will leave everyone filled with warm, fuzzy feelings of Sesame Christmas spirit. Visit for more information.

shady brook farm“Holiday Light Show at Shady Brook Farm”
Location: 931 Stony Hill Road, Morrisville, PA Date: Now through January 10, 2016
Admission: $25 per carload/Multi pass discounts available OR Enjoy an open air, tractor drawn wagon ride for $12 per personTime: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Description: Experience more than three million sparkling multi-colored lights as you drive through the Shady Brook Farm Holiday Light Show. Or, weather permitting, hop aboard the tractor drawn open air wagon and enjoy the show with your entire group. Stop by the Farm Market for a cup of hot coco then toast up some s’mores at the bonfire. Stop by Santa’s Village to go over those last minute additions to your wish list and get your photo taken with the Big Man. On Monday December 7th and Wednesday December 9th celebrate “Pet Day at the Farm”. From Noon to 4 pm on both days, you can bring in your four legged or two winged kids in for a visit and photo with Santa. Check out for more information.

Delaware County

“A Brandywine Christmas at Brandywine Museum”
Location: 1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford, PA Date: Now through January 3rd, 2016
Admission: $15 Adults, $10 Seniors, $6 Students ages 6 to 18, Free for ages 5 and under
Time: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Description: Christmas spirit takes over the Brandywine River Museum with a festive display of towering trees soaring up through the museum’s three story atrium. The trees feature whimsical “critter” ornaments which are handcrafted by Brandywine volunteers, and made from natural materials. You will be amazed by the exquisite Victorian Doll House and a collection of rare dolls dressed in beautiful period clothing. Many of the dolls were donated by the family of artist and composer Ann Wyeth McCoy (1915-2005). The display depicts a sledding party on the hill in front of N.C. Wyeth’s home. Throughout the month, the Museum has special events and programs planned including a Christmas Carol Concert and an interactive dance program based on the Nutcracker. You can reserve tickets online at or by calling 610-388-2700.

“Christmasland at Linvilla Orchards”
Location: 137 W. Knowlton Road, Media, PA Date: Now through January 3rd, 2016
Admission: Free to enter. Christmas trees- $59.99 Time: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Description: Linvilla Orchards has transformed into the North Pole—Farm Style. The Farm Market is stocked with tasty holiday treats like mulled cider and freshly baked cakes and cookies. The Garden Center has poinsettias, toys, gifts, lights, candles and other holiday décor for sale. On Saturday evenings, visitors can celebrate the ancient tradition of “Wassailing” and sing Christmas Carols during hayrides, complete with live music. After your hayride sit around a campfire roasting marshmallows and drinking apple cider or visit the Barnyard and see the animals in their winter coats. You can start a new “family tradition” by taking the whole family on a hayride to the Christmas tree fields. You can choose the perfect tree among the 40,000 or so trees planted—most of which are 6 to 10 foot Douglass Fir. Linvilla Orchards also has pre-cut trees available in the Garden Center. Visit for more information.

Chester County

“A Longwood Christmas”
Location: 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA Date: Now through January 10, 2016
Admission: Prices vary. Choose non-peak days/times for lower prices and smaller crowds
Time: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Timed admission tickets may be purchased online.
Description: No holiday is complete without a visit to Longwood Gardens, where more than 500,000 twinkling lights and spectacular fountain shows compose a brilliant wonderland your family will surely love. As you stroll through the grounds, marvel at lights strung on 40 miles of wire glowing in the trees. Large starry snowflakes and icicles sparkle throughout the Gardens, while the continuously performing theater fountains present the colors of a Christmas rainbow. Enjoy the sounds of the season with special performances from local musicians, special guests, and sing-a-longs with the Longwood Organ. Check out for a holiday performance schedule or to purchase tickets.

“Winter Solstice Celebration”
Location: 964 Merrybell Lane, Kennett Square, PA Date: December 22, 2015
Admission: $5 for Land Conservancy Members, $10 for Non-members
Time: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Description: Join The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County at the Stateline Woods Preserve on Tuesday evening December 22nd to celebrate the longest night of the year, as well as the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. We will celebrate with a choir, bonfire, hot chocolate, and of course, lighting the evergreen tree! All proceeds from the Winter Solstice Celebration will go towards the Bucktoe Cemetery.

Delaware Area

“Twilight Tours at Hagley Museum”
Location: 201 Hagley Creek Road, Wilmington, DE Date: Select Dates through Dec 30th
Admission: Free for Museum members, $10 for Guests
Time: Tours are every half hour from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Description: This is an excellent opportunity to experience the du Pont family residence by the warm winter glow of candles and twilight. Small groups will be guided through the house and get an intimate glimpse at the holiday season as the du Ponts would have experienced it after a long day of gift making, calling and merry making. Tours begin at the Visitor Center followed by a ride through the powder yards to the residence. Make your reservations early as these special small tours tend to fill up quickly. Visit for more details.

“A Christmas Story: The Musical”
Location: The Clear Space Theater 20 Baltimore Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE Date: Select Dates through Dec 13th, 2015
Admission: General Admission $30 Seniors $25 Students/Children $15
Time: Matinee shows 3 p.m. Evening shows 7 p.m.

Or New Jersey Area Showing:

Location: Paper Mill Playhouse 22 Brookside Drive · Millburn, NJ 07041
Date: November 25, 2015 thru January 3, 2016 (Autism Friendly Show: 12/29/15 at 1:30)
Time: Matinee shows 1:30 p.m. Evening shows 7p.m.
Admission: $32 General Admission -$108 Orchestra
Description: The Clear Space Theatre and Paper Mill Playhouse present a musical adaptation of the timeless classic “A Christmas Story”. Little Ralphie Parker takes us back to the late 50’s. It is Christmas time in a small mid-western town and the only gift that satisfy Ralphie is an Official Red Rider Carbine-Action 200 Shot Range Model Air Rifle (with a compass in the stock). Follow along as Ralphie tries to convince his parents– though Santa Claus—that he is old enough to handle a B-B gun.

Well, there you have it—-several fun, exciting and educational holiday happenings options for you to enjoy with your family this holiday season. You may have noticed that I did not include any information about model train exhibitions. There are many excellent displays out there and it is a subject that is dear to my heart. If it is a subject that interests you, check back in the coming weeks as I will post a HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS devoted to model train displays. I hope you found this post useful. Finally, I want to wish you all a very happy holiday season and a blessed and prosperous new year.

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Matilda the Musical – Academy of Music

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Thank you Kimmel Center for supporting Homeroom At Home and our mission. This is a sponsored article whereby we were provided tickets to the show and attended a promotional party.

Matilda flyerNothing like a little rebellion to get some kids’ attention. And so be it… along with the perfect children’s Broadway performance: Matilda The Musical. If it takes a little sass to get children interested in the theater arts… well, I’m all for it. This fun musical comes with some super catchy (parents be warned) sassy songs.

20151118_113502Matilda The Musical is based off of Roald Dahl’s children’s book, Matilda. As summarized by The Guardian the story is “about a smart, easily infuriated little girl who is misunderstood by her parents and loathed by the school’s headmistress. On the other hand her kind and generous teacher, Miss Honey, thinks she is a brilliant academic genius. Matilda has a number of excellent schemes in her head to teach her nasty parents and headmistress a lesson.” Roald Dahl is known for his quirky, imaginative humor that keeps children engaged. I was excited to find this story on our book shelf for a later read (recommended for ages 7-11). By the way, love the review on Kids’ Book Reviews for this title… so be sure to check it out too. And speaking of checking things out, click below for a quick recap of Matilda the Musical.

My daughter and I are looking forward to the Broadway performance of Matilda The Musical, singing all the way there. The performance is held at the Academy of Music from Nov 17th through the 29th. Tickets are discounted 35% using QUIET as the promo code.

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Bullets Over Broadway at The Academy Of Music

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This post is sponsored by the Kimmel Center by providing us with tickets to the upcoming performance. This opinions expressed herein are strictly my own.

Homework isn’t just for the students. Sometimes a parent has to do their own homework Bullets Over Broadwayand that might include reading a magazine article, attending a lecture or in my case… grabbing tickets to an upcoming performance. Nothing wrong with delving deeper into your interests and after-all that’s what life long learning is all about.

Bullets Over Broadway performed Oct 27th – Nov 1st. Promo code: MOBSTER

20151023_080614For me, I love the jazz period. Over the summer I had an incredible experience at Jazz Age on the Delaware at the beautiful Glen Foerd. My family and I were completely immersed in the 1920’s atmosphere from food to attire and music and more. It was a fantastic learning experience being transported back in time. And while the Bullets Over Broadway performance isn’t exactly family-friendly, it does provide me inspiration to revisit the summer’s experience, jazz it up for Halloween and dust off the old records from yesteryear.

Lesson here: don’t be afraid to indulge in your passion and find the takeaways to bring back to the family, perhaps a little something from the gift shoppe or in my situation it will likely be a CD of the Bullets Over Broadway music. Here’s to our homework, Parents. Enjoy.

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Timeless Classic Wizard of Oz

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Kimmel Center presents Wizard of Oz on Broadway

Tea with Dorothy from Wizard of Oz


Having grown up with re-enactments of the Munchkins and Dorothy, it was a pleasure to find that my daughter is just as in love with this old time classic as I was, in fact more so. I remember from my childhood, a particular cousin being talented enough to “do the voices” for ALL the characters. I would make her tell the entire story, songs and all each time she spent the night. In fact, I should ask her to record herself reading the story for all of our little munchkins now – what a sweet treat that would be.

Anyway, all these years later – 75 to be exact and the Wizard Of Oz still holds a special place in our hearts and imaginations. It’s such a story that takes you on a journey, allowing our minds to creatively travel from one world to another.

A few weeks back my daughter and I were invited to Tea with Dorothy with friends. DSCN0471We had yummy treats and tasted many tea variations but the best part was taking pictures with Dorothy in front of the yellow brick road. We were extended passes to the Philadelphia Broadway production of Wizard of Oz for this evening. We couldn’t be more thrilled to share an evening out – just us – on my birthday – with Dorothy!! We’ll post an update once we’ve seen the show but for now here are some details on the production:

Wizard of Oz is being held at the Academy of Music Philadelphia Tuesday, June 3 – Sunday, June 8. Expect the classic characters and story, adapted for live theater and some special effects. We are excited to hear (and possible sing along with) all the classic Wizard Of Oz songs too. Friday, June 6th performance is designated as an ASL & AD Performance with more information available on the Kimmel Center’s website.

At Homeroom At Home we love pairing activities with learning fun trivia, so here are some websites with fun puzzles, toys and facts from the movie. Enjoy.

We are so excited to head off and meet the wizard, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.


Soooo what can we say?  It.Was.Amazing!! Very clever designs for the Wizard scenes, the “yellow brick road” and special effects made this a truly memorable performance.  The characters were brilliant, including a real Toto.  Dorothy of course stood out but the entrance of the evening was, with out a doubt, Glinda – breath-taking and radiant.  The Wicked Witch of the West was in full evil form and even surprised us with a visit in the balcony.  It was a birthday celebration not to be forgotten.  Below please find Victoria’s short video as she was full of anticipation and excitement.

wizard of oz

Disclosure: Performance tickets were provided for promotional purposes. The thoughts and opinions expressed herein are strictly mine.

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Phantom of the Opera at Academy of Music

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At The Phantom Of The Opera with Deb McMaster

At The Phantom Of The Opera with Deb McMaster

Finally my long-awaited opportunity to experience the one and only Phantom Of The Opera had arrived. It happened to be rather last minute plans, for which I am grateful because I don’t think I could have contained my excitement had it been on my calendar any long than a couple of days.  I had never seen this performance and purposefully refused to watch it on film until I’ve had such opportunity to see it performed live on Broadway.  And let me say… it was totally worth the wait!

Poetic and aesthetic, this spectacular performance was by far my favorite EVER.  The vocal and orchestra talent was breathtaking and perfectly matched with the story line and one another.  I was simply swept away with the costume design. Of course being a performance about an opera, scene after scene graced us with bold baroque and equally elegant costume creations.  If only they sold replicas of those gorgeous gowns during intermission. And then there’s the stage set – WOW – to describe the magnificent set would give too much away and it is truly something to been for itself.  Scene after scene I was mesmerized by the creativity of the set design and its ability to truly transport you into the production, into the storyline, into character and back in time.  Together these imaginative and artistically talented threads of costume, stage design, lighting & special effects and musical geniuses created a masterpiece of a web, which sung of captivated beauty beyond any written description.

Only a few days remain… book your tickets for Philadelphia’s Broadway show The Phantom Of The Opera.

Now showing through April 12th… The Phantom of the Opera.  Phantom of the Opera E-Card

As described via the Kimmel Center’s website:

Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s phenomenal musical success, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, is now on tour across North America. Critics are raving that this breathtaking production is “bigger and better than ever before.” This PHANTOM features a brilliant new scenic design by Paul Brown, Tony® Award-winning original costume design by Maria Björnson, lighting design by Tony® Award-winner Paule Constable, new choreography by Scott Ambler, and a new staging by director Laurence Connor. The production, overseen by Matthew Bourne and Cameron Mackintosh, boasts many exciting special effects including the show’s legendary chandelier. The beloved story and thrilling score – with songs like “Music of the Night,” “All I Ask Of You,” and “Masquerade” – is performed by a cast and orchestra of 52, making this PHANTOM one of the largest productions now on tour.

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Puppets: Entertaining Story Tellers Capturing Young Hearts

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Ventriloquist and puppeteers have been captivating audiences for centuries. As parents we can take note of this effective story-telling technique and incorporate into our lessons, sharing time or story times.

photo courtosy of

Making and Using Puppets At Home:

I found that especially for those with more than one child and therefore a million creative ideas and reminiscent stories spilling out all at once, puppets can help your little ones take turns spinning their tales. It is a creative way to encourage sharing and communication and creativity. During a summer visit with family, I suggested puppet play.  A couple of cousins and neighboring friends were playing and like most kids, after awhile, found themselves talking over one another.  I pulled the loveseat away from the wall just a enough for 2 little persons to fit and handed them each a puppet.  The others children and I sat on the floor to watch. The two “behind the curtain” had our attention to tell their stories. Taking turns, they each got to shared their imaginative characters and play make-believe.  It was so much fun to watch the creativity flow.  Lucky that I had a couple puppets in the trunk of my car.

This is also an excellent way to blend story time with younger and older children by having the older child “act” out the story with the puppet while you read it aloud. If you are feeling creativity, have your children make their own puppets with brown paper bags or old socks. This is a perfect stormy day activity and if the lights go out just have your flashlights handy for additional effects.

Cuddleuppets are a clever twist to traditional puppets, whereby offering a built in blanket with your puppet friend.  We have the crocodile one and often play “Teasing Mr. Crocodile, Can’t Catch Me” while reading the story.  Here are a few of the Spalding puppet family:

Spalding Puppet Friends

Puppets entertaining large audiences:

I grew up watching puppets on shows like Fraggle Rock.  Kermit was our family favorite puppet of all. Elmo became our character of choice once I had my son, and still is with my daughter. Sesame Street, Lamb Chop, Mister Roger’s Neighborhood and Disney’s Muppets are all puppetry masterpieces in finding compelling ways to relate to children, discuss sensitive issues as well as encourage kindness and community. Where would we be without these adorable loved characters?

War Horse Photo by Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

Puppetry is more than entertainment, it is an art form. War Horse on Broadway is a perfect example of puppetry at its finest with life size horses on stage to tell a compelling and emotional story.

War Horse Photo by Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

War Horse on Broadway at the Kimmel Center

War Horse is now showing at The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia November 27th through December 2nd.  Take a behind-the-scene peek with the video clip below and be blown away with the realistic horse puppetry.

In fact, there is an entire Teacher Resource guide that you can download to include more on the making of the puppets but also the story, World War I and so much more.

And of course puppets for the adult crowd:

I still love Kermit and Lamb Chop but here are a couple of my “not for kids” favorites… just for kicks because hey, adults should have fun too!

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