KNOWLEDGE SQUARE – This holiday season has been rich in tourism for local businesses and treasured landmarks.
“Chester County’s Brandywine Valley is truly a destination for all seasons,” said Susan Hamley, executive director of the Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau.
“While nature may appear to be dormant in winter, there is a beauty and serenity to be discovered and enjoyed,” Hamley said. “We welcome both visitors and locals to escape every day by booking cozy accommodations and exploring the countryside.”
The Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau is also launching a new beverage tourism initiative this year – titled “Cheers to Chester County” – which will highlight breweries, wineries and distilleries across the region.
Upcoming attractions in Chester County include Winterfest in Kennett Square in February plus shows at Uptown Knauer Performing Arts in West Chester, The Flash in Kennett and the Kennett Symphony, the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville and the People’s Light in Malvern, according to Hamley.
From the Mendenhall Inn to cozy bed and breakfasts, local hotels offer special dinners and “staycations” in celebration of Valentine’s Day in February.
Celebrate the Winter Wonder in Longwood Gardens, shop and dine in the charming main streets, and toast to the new year at the many lively wineries, breweries and distilleries, Hamley said, adding: “Cheers for 2022.”
Winter Wonder, which will feature hundreds of orchids in bloom, runs from January 22 to March 27 in Longwood Gardens.
Longwood Gardens had 1,498,553 guests in 2021, said Patricia Evans, PR employee for Longwood Gardens.
From January to May, Longwood Gardens was open with 50 percent capacity.
By 2020, when Longwood Gardens was closed from March 14 to June 17, and reopened the rest of the year with reduced capacity, there were 855,889 guests, according to Evans.
Visits this holiday season have been busy in Longwood.
“This holiday season has been very popular,” Evans said. “We have welcomed just over 537,000 guests until January 5.”
This season’s holiday viewing continues through January 9th.
Longwood Gardens’ previous best holiday season per. participation was in the winter of 2018-2019, when the world-renowned botanical nonprofit welcomed well over 468,000 guests.
Longwood Gardens is located in East Marlborough Township just north of Kennett Square. Guests can enter from Route 1.
Evans said Longwood Garden changes the holiday theme every year, adding that there is always something new for guests to see.
“This year, our Fire and Ice theme resonated very well with our guests, who enjoyed exhibits of fiery red to cool blue to icy white both indoors and outdoors,” Evans said. “New additions this year to our outdoor display of 500,000 lights included an expanded tunnel of lights and glowing spheres outdoors.”
She said inside the Alpine Wonderland, created in Longwood’s showroom, was an often photographed moment of the season.
In other news, Longwood Gardens plans to complete the preservation and restoration of Orchid House later this winter, Evans said.
“As we have seen throughout the pandemic, people are looking for outdoor experiences they can enjoy with family and friends and we are delighted that our gardens are offering it to our guests,” she said.
Nearby is the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, Delaware County. Part of the property includes land in Chester County.
“This year’s holiday season has seen the highest turnout since the start of the 2020 pandemic,” said Thomas Padon, James H. Duff, director of the Brandywine River Museum of Art.
“It’s been encouraging to see Brandywine full of happy families enjoying the museum, seeing the Brandywine Railroad – the beloved model train exhibit – and our famous collection of art during the holiday season.”
Padon said Brandywine also inaugurated the museum’s newly renovated Strawbridge Gallery on the second floor with landscapes from the legacy of Richard M. Scaife.
“It felt wonderful to welcome so many visitors back to the museum, as well as to hear how much they had missed coming to Brandywine in the previous months when we had been closed due to Hurricane Ida,” Padon said. “We are all here proud of the role the museum plays in society.”
The Brandywine River Museum of Art was closed for several months after Ida, who hit the region on September 1st.
“We are so grateful to all of Brandywine’s staff and contractors who moved mountains to make the museum’s holiday reopening possible on Friday, November 26, following the devastating flood in September that forced the museum to close for several months,” Padon said. “Thanks to their efforts, we were able to reopen the museum with our Brandywine Railroad train exhibit – an annual holiday tradition since 1972 – plus highlights from our permanent collection that can be seen in the galleries.”
Padon addressed a special thank you to Model Railroad Specialists Dave Jensen and Paul Hoerner.
“One of the most heartbreaking aspects of the flood was the loss of thousands of our signature jewelry, all of which are handmade by our volunteers from natural materials,” Padon said of Ida. “We lost our historical collection of creatures that always decorated our large trees in the museum’s atrium. We were touched by the generosity of staff, volunteers and members of the local community who donated some of their own creatures to the museum so that our wooden decoration could be possible again. “
After the flood, volunteers immediately went back to work creating new creatures for this year’s sale, Padon said, adding that all of these were sold out thanks to the remarkably supportive Chadds Ford community and especially the Chadds Ford Historical Society.
“Although there are still many months of work before the museum is fully restored back to its full functionality, we have assembled a remarkable team of experts and skilled craftsmen to guide us through the restoration work that still awaits,” he said.
“We are so grateful for the tremendous support we have received from the community throughout the pandemic and especially since the floods caused by Hurricane Ida. More than 700 donors have donated to our flood relief campaign with nearly $ 1 million raised to date,” Padon said. .
“Shortly after the September flood, 150 volunteers came to campus and struck with a flood cleanup on our 15-acre campus,” he said. “However, we still have a lot of work ahead as we continue to address the more than $ 6 million dollars in flood damage to our campuses and buildings.”
Wayne Thiebaud 100: The Paintings, Prints and Drawings exhibition opens Feb. 6 at the Brandywine River Museum of Art.
“This retrospective shows a spectacular selection of 100 works by one of America’s most iconic and beloved artists, who sadly just died on December 25 at the age of 101. The exhibition will be on view at Brandywine through the 10th. April, “said Padon.
From the Brandywine River Museum of Art to Longwood Gardens, there is plenty to do this winter at home. Adventure awaits.