Holidays on the Hill is back

Holiday season is almost back to normal in Chestnut Hill this year after a long and dreary slog of dealing with the Covid 19 pandemic

by Tom Beck
Posted 11/17/21

The Chestnut Hill Business Association is hosting Holidays on the Hill, an annual series of events and festivities that has been delighting residents since the mid 20th century.

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Holidays on the Hill is back

Holiday season is almost back to normal in Chestnut Hill this year after a long and dreary slog of dealing with the Covid 19 pandemic

Posted

The Chestnut Hill Business Association is hosting Holidays on the Hill, an annual series of events and festivities that has been delighting residents since the mid 20th century.

This year’s series, which features a brass quartet, rides on a horse-drawn carriage along cobblestone streets, Morris Arboretum’s always popular outdoor model train display, late-night shopping and encounters with Santa, will include “sensible COVID modifications to ensure that all visitors can celebrate safely,” said Phil Dawson, the association’s executive director.

“We invite the public to rediscover why Chestnut Hill is the Philadelphia region's classic holiday destination," said Dawson. "For the 2021 holiday season, the Chestnut Hill's Business District is excited to offer its full range of beloved holiday traditions, from Stag and Doe Nights to horse-drawn carriage rides and visits with Santa Claus,” said Dawson. “Our small businesses are some of the best shopping destinations you'll find this year, with local sourcing resulting in fewer supply shortages and unique gifts that you can't find anywhere else.”

A summary of events is as follows:

Circle of Trees

Saturday, November 20

This perennial favorite is a case in point. In past years, this event, co-sponsored by the Chestnut Hill Community Association, Woodmere Art Museum, and the Chestnut Hill Business Association, meant hundreds of children and families gathering at a delightfully lit and decorated Woodmere Art Museum, where they would sing, eat, and wait for the ever popular visit from Santa, who arrived in a giant red fire truck.

For safety reasons, the association is opting not to hold one large gathering that includes a large number of friends, neighbors and children coming together to sing holiday songs. So they’re spreading it out.

This year Santa will be riding through the neighborhood in his favorite firetruck. You will be able to choose to see Santa at one of four locations by reserving your FREE ticket to see Santa at the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, Woodmere Art Museum, Norwood Fontbonne Academy, or Wyndmoor Train Station parking lots.

For safe social distancing families and groups are asked to  stay in their parking spot. Reserve your spot and register this event by going to https://chestnuthillcommunity.ticketleap.com/2021circleoftreescelebration/

Small Business Saturday

Saturday, November 27

Small Business Saturday is the ideal time to get a head start on your Christmas shopping. With the wide array of trendy boutiques and specialty shops in Chestnut HIll, you’re sure to find the perfect gift for loved ones this holiday season.

And you’ll get some help with the holiday spirit while you’re at it. The avenue will be sporting its most festive decor, and there will also be live music and other fun things to do, especially if you have small children in tow.  There will be horse and carriage rides from noon to 3 p.m., and mummers and costumed carolers will be doing their thing from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. And, of course, don’t forget Santa Claus. He’ll be strolling the Avenue from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. - so he’ll know who’s being naughty and who’s being nice!

Santa at MARKET at the Fareway

For children of a certain age, no Christmas is complete without a visit to Santa. In addition to his November visit, Santa will be back on three different Saturdays in December -  the 4th, the 11th, and the 18th. He’ll be waiting to hear all about your holiday gift wishes at the Market at the Fareway from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Stag & Doe Nights

Wednesdays December 1, 8, 15, 22

Stag & Doe Nights, which is Chestnut Hill’s oldest and most beloved annual tradition, returns this year for the first four Wednesdays in December. For two of those Wednesdays, Dec. 8 and Dec. 22, there will be horse-drawn carriage rides from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. On those nights, there’s also a brass quartet from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Originally conceived back in the 1960s as “Stag Night,”  an occasion for men to come out and shop for their wives, girlfriends and mothers, the event has grown into a festive concoction of shopping and socializing which also includes women. Now known as “Stag and Doe” night, the event features extended store hours, holiday specials, and complimentary refreshments at many shops. In past years, many of those refreshments have included wine and cheese, and Chestnut Hillers turn out in force - using it as an opportunity to catch up with friends and neighbors while getting their holiday shopping done.

Back By Popular Demand: Stateside Vodka Bottle Sales and Engraving

Get in the Holiday “spirits” and help celebrate Philadelphia's “favorite hometown vodka” with fine locally-distilled vodka and bourbon from Stateside Vodka.

The distilling company, which was founded in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia in 2013, has rapidly grown into a city success story to become one of Pennsylvania’s top selling craft spirits.

A fixture of Chestnut Hill’s Stag & Doe Nights for several years running, Stateside will be returning with bottle sales and personalized bottle engraving, all conveniently conducted at the Chestnut Hill Welcome Center at 8514 Germantown Avenue.

From Bali to US

The popular pop-up at Germantown Avenue and Evergreen Street will serve Indonesian appetizers and present live entertainment on the first Stag & Doe Night, Wednesday, December 1st at 7pm.  Vocalist Kristen Spangenberg will perform “Dangdut” songs, a fusion of Indonesian pop and Western rock.

“This is our 25th Anniversary Show on the Hill featuring fair-trade textiles, jewelry and crafts of Indonesia,” said owner Laura Cohn. In addition to Stag and Doe festivities, From Bali to US will present a Passport to Indonesia talk and slide show on Sunday, November 21st at 5:50 pm, documenting Cohn’s over thirty years of working with Indonesian artisans.

Other holiday events at “From Bali to US” include a Balinese cooking class, a batik fashion trunk show and an introduction to traditional Balinese musical instruments. ‘Our overarching mission is to educate and illuminate people about Indonesia’s rich culture,” she said. A portion of every purchase benefits Indonesian non-profits, both here and abroad. The pop-up will be open through Dec. 24th.

Woodmere Art Museum

In person Holiday shopping back at the Woodmere Art Museum

The popular holiday version of the gift store at the Woodmere Art Museum is back live and in person this year.

The store, which - like the museum itself - highlights local artists, is open during museum hours now through Dec. 31.

You’ll find hand-painted scarves by Kathy Robinson, ceramics from Young Kang, and wooden sculptures by Dona Dalton. We have a number of incredible local jewelry designers represented in the store, including Abra Couture, John Wind, Andrea Abrams-Herbert, Cynthia Murray, and Sara Hodge. Some of the newest offerings in the holiday store include gorgeous candles from the Lion’s Den Candle Company and honey from Erdenheim Farms.

“I want my customers to have a fun and stress-free shopping experience,” said Stephen Kerzner, store director. “Customers can find something for everyone at every price point, and we’ll even wrap the gifts for you!Stephen Kerzner, Director of Woodmere’s Museum Store

Kerzner started the holiday store in 2012, the year he became store director.

“At that time, my customers suggested that I have a holiday store for them to do their holiday shopping. That November, I opened my first holiday store, and for the past ten years, I continued this tradition.”

Proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test is required for admission to both the museum and to the store.

Woodmere’s Museum Store is also offering online shopping, curbside pickup, and virtual shopping experiences. To schedule an appointment with Museum Store Director Stephen Kerzner, call (267) 269-6432 or email skerzner@woodmereartmuseum.org.

Garden Railway at Morris Arboretum

Morris Arboretum’s ever popular Holiday Garden Railway returns on November 26 and runs through January 2.

Visitors of all ages will be wowed by a quarter-mile outdoor track nestled among the trees of this historic arboretum. It’s a winding world in miniature, featuring historic buildings created entirely of natural materials, fifteen different rail lines, nine bridges (including a trestle bridge you can walk under), and bustling model trains—all decorated with thousands of twinkling lights and set in the lovely winter garden of the Morris Arboretum.

The Holiday Garden Railway runs daily from 10am–4pm and is free with Arboretum admission. (Please note that the Arboretum is closed December 24, 25, and January 1.)

For those who would like to see the magic of the Holiday Garden Railway by night, Holiday Garden Railway Nights returns this year for five weekends: November 27-28, December 4-5, 10-12, 17-19, and 26 from 4:30pm–7:30pm. For this event, illuminated trees and colored lights pave the way to the outdoor railway site, adding to the festive atmosphere. 

Holiday Garden Railway Nights is a separate admission from daytime visitation and advanced tickets are required. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit the Morris Arboretum website at morrisarb.org/holiday.

A special bonus: On Dec. 4th, the Penn Glee Club will be singing holiday favorites at the entrance of the Oak Allée from 1 to 1:45 p.m. Free with Arboretum admission.

Chestnut Hill Community Holiday Parade

After a year off due to Covid, the annual holiday parade is back, and this year’s event promises to be better than ever. 

The parade starts at 9 a.m. on Germantown Avenue at Rex Avenue on Saturday, Dec. 18 and continues down to the Market at the Fareway.

Join friends and neighbors to huddle up along the avenue and watch the fire engines, marching bands, choirs, antique cars, horses, local school groups and of course, the most important guest, Santa Claus! And rumor has it that the Phillie Phanatic will be stopping in to make the parade extra fun.

There will be musical performances around the Fareway’s outdoor fire pit, complete with caroling and hymns. Santa will be there to pose for photos, and there will be treats. Plenty of treats!

Don’t forget that parking is free in Chestnut Hill on weekends and Wednesday evenings throughout December.

The Parade is brought to the Community by the Chestnut Hill Community Association. If your group or organization is interested in marching, contact anne@chestnuthill.org.

A Twilight Toast to the Holidays

Something new this year is the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s twilight toast to the holidays, a celebratory gathering of friends and family at Norwood Fontbonne Academy’s historic “Big House.”

Held on Dec. 11th from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., this outdoor event will feature a tour of the historic mansion, which will be festively decorated for the holidays. You can warm your toes around the firepit, sample hors d’oeuvres, and take your chance at a raffle while you listen to live music and singing.

And you’ll do all that surrounded by scores of beautiful Christmas trees, carefully decorated by local businesses and students of Norwood Fontbonne Academy.

All proceeds benefit the CHCA. Tickets are on sale at chestnuthill.org

Additional Info

Visit chestnuthillpa.com/events/holidays/ throughout the season to look for one-of-a-kind finds and special offerings from Chestnut Hill’s fine shops and restaurants as they are announced. 

For the benefit of customers, the Chestnut Hill Parking Foundation is offering free parking in its six public lots all day and night every Wednesday from Nov 10th through Christmas.

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