by Sue Ann Rybak
Old man winter must be getting pretty frail because he
hasn’t mustered up enough energy this winter to give us enough snow to break
out the sled. Not to worry though. Chestnut Hill’s winter festival, Chestnut
Hill on Ice, on January 31 and February 1 transforms Philadelphia’s Garden
District into a Winter Wonderland. Chestnut Hill on Ice features live ice
sculpting demonstrations, an outdoor ice bar carved entirely out of blocks of
ice, a designer-built yurt village, a chili-cook off and more. The two-day
event takes place along Germantown Avenue on January 31 from 5 – 9 p.m., and
Saturday, February 1 from 12 – 5 p.m.
The event is free to attend, with pay-as-you-go activities
for all ages. The best part is that mild winter weather won’t ruin the
festivities, because the majority of the activities aren’t contingent upon cold
weather. A favorite event for kids is the Iceless Ice Skating Rink, which will
be located at Chestnut Hill’s Blue Parking Lot, 184 E. Evergreen Ave.
Philip Dawson, director of Chestnut Hill Business District
(CHBD), said the CHBD expanded the pop-up iceless rink to 1,920 square-feet
because it was so popular last year. They wanted to give people more room to
skate. Admission for this activity is $10, and ice skates in varying sizes and
walkers for non-skaters are available on site.
He added that characters from “Frozen,” Queen Elsa and
Princess Anna, are new to this year’s festival. Both Queen Elsa and Princess
Anna were at the festival several years ago, when it initially began as
“Valentines on Ice.” No doubt, they still are sure to melt many children’s
hearts. Attendees will have opportunity to capture a winter memory with them
from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday at the
Iceless Ice Skating Rink.
Kids can defrost with a cup of hot chocolate from La
Chocolatera food truck or other goodies at restaurants and vendors at Market at
The Festival’s signature not-to- be-missed event is its Live
Ice Sculpturing Demonstration by world-renowned ice sculptor Peter Slavin. The
Mt. Airy resident, who has traveled to over 150 countries, performing
theatrical ice sculpting shows and competing in ice sculpting contests around
the world, including the Winter Olympics, will transform a huge hunk of ice
into a mesmerizing piece of art on January 31 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and
on February 1 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Laurel Hill Gardens, 8125 Germantown Ave.
“Chestnut Hill is a special place to me,” said Slavin, who
also owns Ice Sculpture Philly, which creates custom ice sculptures of all
sizes for weddings, parties, festivals and special events. “I live just two
miles away. I love this community. My goal every year is to encourage families
to come out and have fun together. People are always looking for something fun
to do in the winter, and Chestnut Hill on Ice is a fun way to do that.”
Dawson said attendees can “get inspired for winter
‘glamping’ when they check out the Yurt Village. He said Summer Classics, a new
business on the Avenue, and Tailored Home are both doing yurts. He said
Tullaulah and Bird will also have a yurt, but this year they are “building
their own from scratch.”
“It’s going to be custom designed,” said Dawson. “It’s
supposed to be something pretty impressive. Then, also this year for the first
time, Peter Slavin has also decided to outfit a yurt for himself. He is going
to make all the furnishings entirely out of ice.”
In addition to the live ice sculpting demonstration,
visitors will have the opportunity to tour one-of-a-kind ice sculptures on
display up and down the Avenue on Saturday in front of shops and restaurants.
The ice sculptures were commissioned by the businesses. For example, Dawson
said Serendipity of Chestnut Hill, 8506 Germantown Ave. had Slavin carve a
Rocky statue out of slab of ice. Attendees can warm up at warming stations or,
on Saturday night, gather around eight-foot bonfire encased in a pillar of ice.
There will also be plenty of fiery foods and hot and cold
beverages for attendees. For the second year in a row, Chestnut Hill’s local
restaurants will be competing in a chili competition. Attendees can warm up
with chili from these participating restaurants: Baker Street Bread Co.’s
Hearty Turkey Chili, McNally’s Tavern Turkey Chili with Vermont Oyster
Crackers, Iron Hill Brewery Short Rib Chili, Paris Bistro & Jazz Café
Pyrenees Country Style Chili with ground wild boar and vension, Campbell’s
Place Signature Chili and El Poquito’s Sanora Spiced Chorizo Sweet Potato
“New this year, Stateside Vodka will be offering tastings,
cocktails and bottle sales at their mobile bar at Laurel Hill Gardens Friday
night and Saturday and at the ice rink on Saturday only,” Dawson said.
Chestnut Hill Brewing Company will also be serving ice-cold,
locally brewed beers and wines at their outdoor Ice Bar, carved entirely out of
blocks of ice. Constellation Brands will be serving wine tastings in the
courtyard at 8338 Germantown Ave. with B101 FM games and prizes.
Attendees can snap a photo in front of two giant red hearts
on Germantown Avenue and share it on social media. Tag #IChestnutHill (using
the red heart emoji) for a chance to win a Chestnut Hill gift card to be used
at participating restaurants or retailers.
For more information, go to chestnuthillpa.com/events/chestnut-hill-on-ice-2020.