Category Archives: Winter

Holiday Light Shows in Lancaster, PA

Holiday Light Displays in Lancaster County

There are so many signs of the holiday season here in Lancaster. Stores put up their holiday displays, the Mayor officially lights the tree downtown, and gingerbread and peppermint flavored goodies start appearing everywhere.

Nothing quite puts me in the mood for the season like the lights displays. Especially when holiday budgets are tight, driving around to see neighborhood lights can be a less costly tradition.

With the help of our friends over at LancasterOnline, and the local community, we’re providing a map below for you – so pile in the car, turn on some holiday tunes (or tune to the station noted for a synchronized performance), and enjoy!

If you’d like to do some activity along with your lights, you may want to check out Dutch Winter Wonderland (for the littles), Hershey Sweet Lights, Kitchen Kettle Village or Longwood Gardens (for all ages).

 

 

Things to do in Lancaster this December

The holidays are here again. Despite the busyness of the season, Christmas is a great time to reconnect with friends and family in Lancaster. Soak in the season with traditional favorites as well as a few fresh twists for 2017. Here are some unique ways to participate in the merriment of a Lancaster County Christmas.

Outdoor Festivities

1). The Christmas Spirit Light Show at Manheim Township’s Community Park

This show is a one-of-a-kind Christmas light display you can enjoy from the warmth of your vehicle. On the mile-long track you will experience the latest in intelligent lighting solutions, including smart pixel technology, that fully integrates with holiday music to bring the magic of the season to life!

Running now through January 1.
For pricing and hours, visit this page.

2). Strasburg Railroad

Take a train ride with Santa, a Christmas tradition in Strasburg since 1959. Your family will be greeted by St. Nick as he climbs aboard the train and travel down the historic tracks to Paradise, Pa. As the anticipation of Christmas Day grows, board the Night Before Christmas Train or the Christmas Feast Train – featuring festive treats aimed to satisfy your holiday appetite.

Running on select days through December 21.
For location, tickets, and dates, visit this page.

3). Scootin’ with Santa

Join Santa on a 19th-century covered bridge holiday tour while riding a Scoot Coupe on the back roads of Lancaster to find the ever elusive Amish Christmas Lights. Enjoy the brisk December air in your hair with this unique holiday excursion on the open road.

Tour runs on select days now through December 17.
For location and reservations, visit this page.

Indoor Merriment

1). Sight & Sound

The Christmas Story comes alive right in front of your eyes at Sight & Sound’s Miracle of Christmas production. All ages will love the high drama, spectacular special effects, and live animals – all on a panoramic stage. Journey back in time to witness the telling of the season’s most memorable story in an unforgettable experience that will leave you breathless.

Running now through December 30.
For location, tickets and showtimes, visit this page.

2). Kitchen Kettle Village

Experience the cheer of the season with Winter Holiday Fun at Kitchen Kettle Village. With over 40 shops, Kitchen Kettle is the perfect place for holiday shopping, tasty treats, and festive Christmas decorations.

Open now through December 24.
For location and more details, visit this page.

3). Yuletide at Wheatland

Take a trip back to 1875 with former U.S. president James Buchanan’s niece, Harriet Lane Johnston, who has decked the halls for an authentic Victorian Yuletide experience. Enjoy an elegant, timeless holiday tradition your whole family will love.

Running now through December 30.
For locations, tickets, and showtimes, visit, this page.

 

For more great holiday events, visit LancasterCountyChristmas.com.

Lancaster County Holiday Traditions

The holiday season in Lancaster County is a joyous time of fond memories and festive traditions. If you are weary of the consumerism and crowded shopping malls, step back into a simpler time and enjoy some old-fashioned Lancaster holiday traditions, and draw the focus back to your family, faith and community. Here are ten local Lancaster County holiday traditions:

1. A very old PA Dutch Christmas Eve tradition (originating in Germany) was to hide a pickle ornament deep in the branches of the family Christmas tree. The parents hung the pickle last, after all the other ornaments were in place. In the morning, the child who found the pickle first would receive an extra gift. The first adult to find the pickle traditionally would get good luck the whole year.

2. Instead of leaving a treat for Santa on Christmas Eve, PA Dutch youngsters would leave an empty plate under their Christmas tree for the Grishkindel (Christ child) to fill with sweets for them to eat.

3. One of the first known written mentions of a Christmas tree in America is found in the 1821 diary of Matthew Zahn, who lived right here in Lancaster.

4. The Belsnickel is a traditional German character known for visiting children a few weeks before Christmas to help determine who was naughty and who was nice.

5. The Moravian Star was adopted by the Moravian Church as a symbol of the birth of Jesus, and represented the star of Bethlehem. Traditionally, the star is hung on the first Sunday of Advent and remains up until Epiphany, January 6, or the time of the coming of the Magi. You can see Moravian Stars throughout the county, but especially in the town of Lititz.

6. Early Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas traditions include dying eggs with onion skins – we now associate that practice with Easter, but it was an originally a Christmas activity. The festive eggs would then be used to decorate the tree. Another traditional holiday decoration in Lancaster is a pretzel.

7. Among the unusual items that will be dropped to ring in the New Year in various towns around Lancaster are a red rose, a shoe, and a 100 pound bologna.

8. Springerle cookies were among the traditional ornaments used to adorn PA Dutch tabletop trees. They are made plain (anise, almond or vanilla flavored) or painted with edible gold. Some are also in the form of hand painted ornaments. You can find them locally handmade, one at a time, as they have been for hundreds of years.

9. The traditional PA Dutch New Year’s Day meal is pork and sauerkraut, which is thought to bring good luck and good fortune in the coming year because, as the saying goes, “the pig roots forward while the turkey scratches backwards.”

10. The biggest Lancaster Christmas tradition comes from the influence of the Amish culture in our area. Giving back to others. The Amish share what they have with their neighbors – from helping an elderly neighbor put up their tree to volunteering in the local shelter and inviting others into their home for Christmas dinner. Afterall, that is what the true Christmas spirit is about.

Part of the joy of the season is reminiscing about what makes your family unique. Ask your parents & grandparents about their holiday customs growing up. Whether you choose to begin new traditions with us here in Lancaster County, or to continue old ones from years past, celebrate what makes you family, and enjoy this holiday season.

How do the Amish Celebrate Christmas?

Visitors are typically curious about the differences between the Amish way of living and ours – things like not using electricity or traveling by horse & buggy or scooter rather than cars. This time of year, that curiosity turns to the Christmas holidays, and wondering how the Amish celebrate Christmas. Do they give each other presents? Do they have a big holiday meal?

To help you understand how the Amish celebrate Christmas, we talked to a local culture expert, Brad Igou of the Amish Experience.

Let’s start off with the obvious one. Do the Amish celebrate Christmas?

Yes, they do, although their customs are much simpler than our “English” customs. They are oriented toward the family and the religious meaning of the holiday.

What do you mean by English customs?

“English” is the term that the Amish use for non-Amish.

Do the Amish put up a Christmas tree, or lights around the house?

There are no lavishly decorated trees or lights around in the house, and the Amish children do not visit Santa Claus to have their picture taken, or tell him their wish list. They do share the making of special Christmas cookies and candies with us though, and they might decorate with greens and candles.

Do the Amish exchange gifts?

School children often pick names and exchange small gifts, such as writing paper or needlepoint kits. Families also exchange some small gifts – and some send Christmas cards, often to their “English” friends. Christmas card making is a very popular tradition – adults & children make handmade “stamped” Christmas cards – some of them are now even sold in Amish stores.

Interesting – if we wanted to pick some up, could we find them at the Amish Experience?

Absolutely, and at the Gordonville Bookstore has an entire “hand-stamping section.”

Do they have Christmas Eve & Christmas Day church services, and sing carols or traditional hymns?

The Christmas church service may or may not be held on December 25, but both Christmas and the following day, sometimes called “second Christmas,” are holidays for the Amish. The second day is usually one to relax or visit others.

Amish children put on a Christmas program each year in their one-room schoolhouse – this is probably the only time you’ll see Amish children on a “stage.” During their Christmas program, the children sing songs, perform skits and recite poems. This is not something that visitors would get to see. Typically just family will attend, and occasionally, they’ll invite their “English” neighbors or friends to come as well.

Okay, last question – do the Amish eat a special Christmas dinner?

Christmas dinners are absolutely a big part of the holiday for the Amish. They are usually large meals, not unlike those served at weddings, and various groups besides the family will hold get-togethers, such as single women, teachers, and others of like interest. These gatherings may continue into January and February of the new year.

Any last comments or tidbits of information for us?

I think that, although we all share our own holiday traditions, what any holiday is about is enjoying cherished memories and traditions with family and friends, as well as remembering those less fortunate than ourselves.

Which Lancaster Christmas Show Should You See?

‘Tis the season for holiday cheer – and what better way to get in the spirit than with a Christmas show. Theaters across Lancaster are decking the halls and bringing inspirational, toe-tapping holiday hits to the stage.

Take our quiz and find out which show you should see this season:

1] First things first – what comes to mind when you think about the holidays?
A. Christmas Carols
B. The perfect gift
C. The birth of Jesus
D. Snow

2] Which Christmas tune fills you with joy?
A. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
B. Jingle Bells
C. Silent Night
D. White Christmas

3] If you could pick a winter getaway, where would you go?
A. New York City – Radio City, lots of holiday shopping & a stay at a luxury hotel
B. Cross-Country Road Trip – Making memories & seeing relatives
C. Disney World – Spending time as a family for wholesome fun
D. A Ski-Resort in the Mountains – Skiing, hot chocolate & relaxing by the fire

4] Which Christmas movie could you watch over and over again?
A. Elf
B. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
C. The Nativity Story
D. It’s a Wonderful Life

5] The first snow is falling. How do you spend your day?
A. Baking cookies while listening to holiday tunes
B. Having a snowball fight
C. Sledding and warming up with hot cocoa
D. Sitting by the fire with a good book

6] Christmas dinner is served! What do you fill your plate with?
A. Decadent desserts
B. Traditional turkey
C. Savory stuffing
D. Classic mashed potatoes & gravy

7] What’s your favorite holiday tradition?
A. Black Friday shopping for great gifts and deals
B. Visiting with Santa
C. Going to church with my family
D. Christmas caroling

 

The Results:

Mostly A’s:
Home for the Holidays at American Music Theatre
Broadway-caliber song and dance will have your toes tapping as you get in the holiday spirit. American Music Theatre’s annual Christmas Show features dazzling sets and costumes, and a sprightly live band.

 

Mostly B’s:
A Christmas Story at Fulton Theatre
For those looking for laughs (and a little bit of family chaos) this holiday season, the Fulton has the show for you. A Christmas Story has been brought from the movie screen to the stage for laughs and holiday antics.

 

Mostly C’s:
Miracle of Christmas at Sight & Sound Theatres
Celebrate the season with the story that captures the true meaning of Christmas. Sight & Sound’s Miracle of the Christmas captures the magic of the season, and is great for adults and children alike.

 

Mostly D’s:
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
You’ll love this classic tale that brings the songs of Irving Berlin to life. Dutch Apple is pairing this traditional tale with an all-American menu for dinner and a show to get you in the holiday spirit.

No matter the results, we’re sure you’ll love the festive Christmas shows performed at theatres around Lancaster. For a full list, visit our Holiday Shows & Performances page.

Cut-your-own Christmas Tree

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is right around the corner, time to break out the tinsel and start whistling Jingle Bells while you work. With so many things to do and places to be during the holiday season, it is nice to take a day to enjoy time with your family and slow down for a while.

We suggest a family outing to cut your own Christmas tree! It makes for a day of old-fashioned fun filled with fresh-air and lots of hot-cocoa to warm up. You don’t have to be a lumberjack to cut down your own tree, often tree farms are willing to help you with the cutting and tying down of your tree – all you have to do is seek out the perfect pine.

We have complied a list of several places around the county where you can cut your own trees. Take a look and plan a day to find the Fraser fir that fits your family’s home.

Abe’s Tree Farm
2305 Butter Rd., Lancaster, PA 17601
Friday: 12– 5 PM
Saturday: 8 AM – 5 PM
Sunday: 12 PM – 5 PM

Bowser’s Christmas Tree Farm
551 Stauffer Rd., Lititz, PA 17543
Monday-Saturday: 10 AM – 5 PM
Sunday: 1-5 PM

Country Barn Farm Market
211 Donerville Rd., Lancaster, PA 17603
Saturdays (Nov. 28- Dec. 19): 11 AM – 5 PM; Market open 9 AM – 6 PM

Elizabeth Farms
262 Homeland Rd., Lititz, PA 17543
Saturdays and Sundays: 9 AM- 5 PM
Tuesday – Friday: 1 PM – 5 PM
Closed on Monday

Heritage Tree Farm
142 Church Rd., Lititz, PA 17543
Fridays 12- 7 PM
Saturdays 9 AM – 4 PM
Horse-drawn wagon rides 9:30 AM – 2:30 PM on Saturdays

Hunt’s Christmas Trees
465 Stehman Church Rd., Milersville, PA 17551
Thanksgiving Day – December 23rd
Sunday- Friday: 12 – 5 PM
Saturday: 8 AM – 5 PM
Other hours by appointment

Log Cabin Trees & Trim
252 Hideaway Dr., Quarryville, PA 17566
717-786-4003
Monday – Saturday: 10 AM- Dusk
Sunday: 1 PM – Dusk

Sand Hill Farms
543 Panorama Drive, Denver, PA 17517
717-445-6240
Call for hours.

Stauffers of Kissel Hill
120 W. Airport Rd., Lititz, PA
Monday – Friday: 8 AM – 8 PM
Saturday: 8 AM – 6 PM
Sunday: 9 AM – 5 PM

Map Source: “Where to cut your own Christmas Tree in Lancaster County,” lancasteronline.com, Nov. 2015

Lancaster Locals’ Favorite Coffee Spots & Cafes

Coffee, café, java, cup-of-joe – Lancaster is no stranger to coffee shops, in fact we have over 70 coffee shops and cafes around the county- including 9 that roast their own beans! We talked with some Lancaster locals to ask them for their tips on the best places. Read the list below for a new suggestion on where to grab your next cup, it may become your new favorite!

Ryan S. – Passenger
7 W. King St., Lancaster, PA 17602 | passengercoffee.com
“I mean, Passenger is definitely the best. I like it for its philosophy about roasting – nothing is too dark or burnt, they excel at bringing out unique flavor profiles in each roast. The options are on point, from cold brew to pour overs. The space itself is modern and beautiful, there’s really nothing like it in the city. It brings a little bit of the west coast vibe to our town.”

Jordan H. – Passenger
“I love Passenger, but those $1 refills from Mean Cup give them a run for their money.”

Ryan M. – Prince Street Café
15 N. Prince St., Lancaster, PA 17602 | princestreetcafe.com
“We have some great coffee and cafes in this little city, but I think for me my favorite is still Prince Street Café. It probably has a lot to do with the nostalgia of the place. It is where I use to have my first client meetings when I was starting up my business. The coffee is consistently great, the food is excellent, and the eclectic din of conversation provides for a great environment to meet with a friend, connect with a client or get some last-minute studying done before your next final. Prince Street Café feels authentic and well lived in… it feels like home.”

Amber S.Mean Cup or Buzz
398 Harrisburg Ave. #200, Lancaster, PA 17603 and at Lancaster Central Market| meancup.com
“I can’t decide between Buzz and Mean Cup. When it comes to coffee at Central Market, I am fiercely loyal to Mean Cup. But on non-Market days, my downtown go-to is Buzz.”

Annie W. Buzz
36 W. King St., Lancaster, PA 17603 | eatabuzz.com
“My vote is cast for Buzz. I’m always greeted with a cheery hello and there’s something fun about walking up to their window. The coffee is only one size but it just so happens it’s the right size for me – large. They’re there for me when I need them.”

Katie W. Café One Eight
18 W. Orange St., Lancaster, PA 17603 | cafe1eight.com
“I love the calming environment and all of the natural light in Café One Eight. I highly recommend trying their pesto breakfast egg-sandwich, or their avocado toast with your coffee  delicious!”

Dana D. Copper Cup
922 Columbia Ave, Lancaster, PA 17603 | coppercup.co
“I love Copper Cup Coffee in Lancaster.  It’s one of the few coffee shops that has the option of hanging out and enjoying their unique vibe inside or zipping through their drive through window if you’re in a hurry.”

Ally H. Courtyard Café on Main
349 Main St., Denver, PA 17517 | courtyardcafeonmain.com
“One of my new favorites is Courtyard Café on Main in Denver. It has a lot of charm – from their outside courtyard to the sense of community felt throughout the café. They put a lot of thought into their food menu, as they feature local, seasonal ingredients and house-made pastries.  Whether I’m in the mood for coffee or tea, they have a great selection of drinks to choose from.”

Sarah L. Speckled Hen
141 E. Main Street, Strasburg, PA 17579 | speckledhencoffee.com
“My vote is for Speckled Hen. I have always loved taking my kids to Strasburg, but mostly just for the train-themed attractions and the creamery. I feel like Strasburg is coming into its own with the new(er) businesses opening up. Speckled Hen is a place where you not only get served excellent food and fresh roasted coffee, you get to mingle with the locals – Amish included. If you’re not into coffee, don’t leave without having the London Fog – it’s one of the best.”

Luke W. Dosie Dough
45 S. Broad St., Lititz, PA 17543 | DosieDough.com
Dosie Dough is my favorite. I love the diversity in people that pass in and out – everybody from a mom running an errand on a Saturday morning, to a bike group stopping by, to the regulars, or just people passing through town. It has its own unique, quirky vibe and is always bustling with activity. I also love walking up the steps off of the beautiful section of Lititz Pike, through the outdoor seating. Everyone just seems so relaxed and content.”

Honorable Mentions:
Tomato Pie Café
Lancaster Coffee Roasters
Café Chocolate
Commonwealth on Queen
Chestnut Hill Café
Café di Vetro
Perkup & Co.
Folklore Coffee & Company
On Orange
Square One

Rainy day things to do in Lancaster County

Whether you come in the bright sunshine or come to a rainy Lancaster County, we’ve got tons of great things to do! Rain is a good thing for Lancaster, as it helps us to provide the freshest produce and ripest, juiciest fruit at our numerous farm markets and roadside stands.

So, if you find yourself here in Lancaster, looking for something to do on a rainy day, here are some suggestions for you:

Learn about the Amish
Lancaster County has a number of Amish homesteads, tours, and farms, where you can learn about the lifestyle of the modern Amish, see a farmhouse, and travel the backroads and country lanes where the Amish live. You can also take a buggy ride if it’s not raining too hard – you’ll be covered by the buggy, and you can experience riding through farmland the way the Amish do!

– Amish Farm and House
– Aaron & Jessica’s Buggy Rides
– Amish Village Backroads Bus Tour
– Old Order Amish Tours
– The Amish Experience

All aboard
Head to Strasburg to learn everything you can about locomotives! From elaborate model train displays and historic exhibits to a ride on a historic railway, Strasburg’s attractions will all paint a picture of the colorful past of Pennsylvania’s railroad industry.

– The Choo Choo Barn
– Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
– National Toy Train Museum
– Strasburg Rail Road

Watch it being made, or make it yourself
Want to see how things are made in Lancaster? A rainy day is the perfect time to head indoors to see things being created from start to finish, and even create some things yourself! Twist your own pretzel at America’s oldest commercial pretzel bakery or create your own ice cream flavor in the Turkey Hill Taste Lab. For an adults-only trip, take a peek into the distilling or beer brewing process, and enjoy the delicious end product.

– Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery
– Turkey Hill Experience
– Kitchen Kettle Village
– Thistle Finch Distillery & Wacker Brewing Company
– Lancaster Brewing Company

A museum for every interest
I know what you’re thinking – I don’t want to spend a whole day in museums. You’ve obviously never been to our museums on a rainy day in Lancaster! For little ones, we have museums boasting hands-on learning, and where imaginations can soar. Lancaster is also home to tons of art museums, galleries, and specialty museums, exhibiting everything from clocks to cars.

– Lancaster Science Factory
– North Museum of Nature and Science
– Hands-on House, Children’s Museum
– National Watch and Clock Museum
– Demuth Museum
– AACA Museum

Catch a show
What better to do on a rainy evening than head to the theatre! Stages across the county are coming to life with broadway-caliber shows, concerts, stories from the bible, and so much more.  So pick a theatre, and prepare to be swept away!

– Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
– Rainbow’s Comedy Playhouse
– Fulton Theatre
– Sight & Sound Theatre
– American Music Theatre

Shopping til you drop
We’ve got tons of shopping opportunities, from antiques to artisans, farmer’s markets to furniture, and local shops to sweets & treats, as well as great outlet shopping. You’ll be sure to find whatever it is you’re looking for, or even things you’re not looking for, as souvenirs to remember your trip to Lancaster County.

– Tanger Outlets
– Ten Thousand Villages
– Antiques Capital
– Lancaster Central Market
– Green Dragon Farmers Market
– Zum Anker Alley Gallery

Bounce, Climb, Race
For the active visitor, Lancaster is home to many indoor attractions where you can get your extra energy out. Laser tag, jumping on trampolines, and rock climbing will get your heart rate up, and keep the kids entertained for hours!

– Spooky Nook Sports
– Sky Zone Trampoline Park
– Go ‘N Bananas
– Laserdome
– Rocky Springs Entertainment Center

There are tons of other things to do on a rainy day, so just check out our website for a complete list. Don’t let a little rain keep you in your hotel!

Snow Geese at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area

If you have not been to Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, it is certainly worth the trip any time of year, but especially now! Sometime in late February to early March the lake is can be found filled with beautiful snow geese and tundra swans.

The birds use the WMA as a resting place on their returning migration back north, some traveling as far as Canada for nesting. This year has been a particularly good year for bird watching due to the mild winter- the grounds are mostly unfrozen for feeding, and so is the 400-acre lake. It was estimated on Sunday, February 19, that there were approximately 50,000 to 70,000 birds at Middle Creek.

It is best to go see the birds in the evening around sunset when they are making their way from the fields to the lake for the night (or vice versa at sunrise, if you are an early riser… they do say the early bird catches the worm). If you are lucky you will catch the birds lifting off the lake in a similar fashion to a murmuration of starlings. It is mesmerizing to watch them skillfully swirl around the air and then land gracefully back on the water.

If you are interested it visiting be sure to check the park website or call for information on their hours and which areas of the park are open to the public. Also, be sure to ask the bird count, since they are wild animals they do not make reservations to stay for a certain length of time. They may be there one day and gone the next! If you do have the opportunity to go it truly is a memorable experience which makes you stop think about how as humans we live in the environments and ecosystems of all nature’s creatures.

Insider’s tips:
– Wear comfortable walking shoes, there is a bit of a hike out to the point.
– Bring binoculars if you have them, since they are wild birds you can only get so close.
– Dress warmly, it can get quite windy near the lake.
– Don’t set your expectations too high, they are wild animals so if they don’t feel like flying they won’t.
– Be respectful of the park and natural environments, walk and explore in only designated areas.

Website: http://www.pgc.pa.gov/InformationResources/AboutUs/ContactInformation/Southeast/MiddleCreekWildlifeManagementArea/Pages/default.aspx

Phone number: 717-733-1512

 

Recipes to Inspire Your Holiday Baking

It’s the holiday season, and whether you’re baking cookies for a cookie swap or for your family to enjoy, we’re sharing some Amish and Mennonite-inspired cookie recipes to add to your recipe box.

From the seasonal favorite, sand tarts, to the unique Amish cookies, we hope that you’ll find a tasty treat or even a new Christmas tradition!

cookies1 cookies2 cookies3

Recipes from: Good, Phyllis Pellman, and Rachel T. Pellman. From Amish and Mennonite Kitchens. Intercourse, PA: Good, 1984. Print.

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