Chadd’s Ford is one of those destinations in Pennsylvania that promises a memorable and inspiring day but especially at Christmas time. Two places you must experience is the Brandywine River Museum of Art and Longwood Gardens, located just a few miles apart for both destinations put on quite a show at holiday time. But before you start your afternoon, head first to Chadd’s Ford Winery for a glass of their fabulous local wine. This winery is one of the largest and oldest wineries in the state, producing more than 30,000 cases annually.
While you’re indulging, take in a great art show by Philadelphia collage artist, Calan Ma’lyn Wilson. Calan’s show consists of both art forms, actual paper glued onto board and also digitally produced collaged images. These fun pieces, both large and small, provide an interesting backdrop while you sip your Chardonnay. Calan is most inspired by travel and learning from other cultures and strives to include pieces of those worlds in her work. The show is up until the end of January. Don’t miss it.
With your insides warmed by a glass of wine, head to the Brandywine River Museum, which focuses on the work of Chadd’s Ford very own Wyeth family of painters, as well as other American painters and sculptors.
At holiday time, visitors can enjoy the region’s greatest model train display and many Christmas trees decorated with Critter ornaments made with objects found in nature. For forty years, the museum’s talented volunteers have been making these whimsical decorations out of pine cones, teasel, milkweed pods, dried grasses and flowers. The over 150 volunteers begin in March to hand craft over 10,000 unique ornaments and the sale of them has raised over one million dollars.
The museum, which is housed in a restored, historic stone mill with contemporary glass wall additions, overlooks the beautiful Brandywine River. During the holiday season, you can also experience piano concerts with professional soloists singing Christmas songs. The sound of their heavenly voice travels up and down the open museum so you can enjoy the music while you take in the beautiful paintings.
We curbed our hunger with a delicious meal at Hank’s Place, a historic diner where artist Andrew Wyeth frequented when he was alive, located in-between the River Museum and Longwood Gardens. Their extensive menu has something for every palate.
Arrive at Longwood in enough time to take in the indoor displays and save outside for nighttime. The 4-acre indoor Conservatory is a welcome wave of warmth, color, fragrance and magnificent visual stimulation when you swing open the massive doors and enter. There are 50 trimmed trees to wonder at, including a huge “tree” made of live orchids.
The highlight of this year’s display is in the ¼ acre Exhibition Hall where you will find a creation mimicking a French parterre garden. Eight thousand Granny Smith apples, 670,000 cranberries and 3,000 gilded walnuts are used to create the design. The food is held in its place with wooden frames hidden from view. The fruit is changed out over the course of the season and then given to local farms for animal feed.
Don’t miss enjoying an organ sing-a-long in the Music Room as the organist plays the 100,000 pipes, projecting the beautiful sounds into the holiday-lit room. The organ is the largest residential Aeolian pipe organ ever constructed and the music, accompanied by a room full of singers, is something you will not soon forget in your holiday memories.
Outside, a half a million lights illuminate the trees. Giant old growth trees come to life, as their massive trunks and every individual branch is wound in lights. A fountain show featuring 750 jets of water that seem to dance to music, run continuous after a certain hour of the day.
A day spent in Chadd’s Ford like this is truly a collage of beauty and sensory delight. It is so memorable, that you will want to repeat the experience every Christmas season and make it a family tradition.
Visit the Brandywine Valley Tourist Information for info on your visit
Posted in: Travel Story