IN THIS DARK season, our phototropic impulse makes us head for the light. Happily there are luminous objects and displays to be had in seemingly every shop window and every front yard.
But some displays are more enthusiastic than others, especially when cities partner with corporations to enliven their downtown (yes, it’s commercial, and yes, they have most of our money, but it sure looks great!).
We’ve recently shared the spectacle that is Manhattan department-store windows. Here are a few other regional delights. I love them all, but the “warming cottages” in the Lodge at RiverRink Winterfest in Philadelphia look well worth the drive.
Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, 101 South Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia. A 25-year-old winter festival. Skating rink plus Franklin Fountain Confectionery Cabin for hot chocolate etc. and the Lodge for refreshments and cabins. Party cabins available for rent ($75 for 90 minutes, cabin accommodates 8 to 10 people; double cottages are $125 for 90 minutes, for up to 18 people.) 90-minute skating sessions are $4; $10 for skate rental. Open seven days a week through March 3, 2019. Hours of operation vary by day—Fridays and Saturdays till 1am, other days till 11pm—and by weather conditions.
Longwood Gardens (outside Philadelphia), 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. “A Longwood Christmas” means illuminated trees and the spectacularly lit Main Fountain Garden. Timed tickets required (many time slots are sold out), $16 to $30. Open 9am to 10pm through the season. Through January 6, 2019.
Holiday Magic: Let It Glow!, Phipps Conservatory, 1 Schenley Drive, Schenley Park, Pittsburgh. The Winter Flower Show is inside (2,000 poinsettias, penguin topiaries), the Winter Light Garden is outside (a tunnel of lights, luminous orbs, glittering trees). Timed tickets required, $11.95 to $17.95 (some but not all pre-Christmas slots are sold out). The Winter Light Garden is open 5 to 11pm most evenings (Christmas Eve till 5pm, closed Christmas Day). The whole conservatory’s extended hours are 9:30am to 11pm. Phipps says the least-crowded days are Mondays and Tuesdays. Holiday Magic: Let It Glow! runs through January 6.
MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG Place, PPG Place between Third and Fourth avenues, downtown Pittsburgh. Skate beneath an enormous Christmas tree in the place where Batman was filmed (and the rink is half again as big as the skating rink at Rockefeller Center in New York). Skating sessions cost $9 to $10, with $4 skate rental. Open seven days a week through early March. Hours vary but generally skating goes from late morning until 10pm.
The Georgetown Glow, light installations around the Georgetown neighborhood (map). georgetownglowdc.com. A 5-year-old outdoor show, this year by 16 artists producing 10 light-art installations. Through January 6, 2019, 5 to 10pm nightly. Free.