The outdoor weather may be turning colder, but there’s still plenty to do and see within the Burlington County Parks System! Throughout winter, there is a packed schedule of events and programs sure to appeal no matter your age or interests.
“Here in Burlington County, we have one of the nation’s best parks systems and there’s no shortage of activities, events and programs planned for this season,” said Burlington County Commissioner Allison Eckel, the liaison to the Department of Resource Conservation and Parks. “Whether you love to cook or exercise, observe wildlife or learn more about history, there’s an event or program for everyone.”
Residents can find hundreds of events, programs and classes scheduled for the months of December, January and February in the Burlington County Parks System’s online Winter Program Guide and on the Burlington County Parks webpage: https://www.co.burlington.nj.us/235/Parks
Here’s some of the winter highlights. When registration is required, a link is provided in the Program Guide.
Smithville Mansion and Village Tours
Historic Smithville Park is a great destination to visit during any season, but seeing it lit up and decorated for the holidays is an absolute must.
Beginning December 1, the Friends of Smithville Mansion will hold scheduled tours of Smithville Mansion, the impressive Georgian estate of Hezekiah J. Smith, the industrialist and inventor who purchased the village of Shreveville on the Rancocas and transformed it into the industrial village known as Smithville.
Tours of the lavishly decorated mansion will be offered each Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at noon, 1 PM and 2 PM (except for Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 when the mansion will be closed). Special candlelight evening tours will also be held at 7 PM and 7:30 PM on December 2, 9, 11, 16, 22, 23 and 30.
Admission for the mansion tours is $8 for the afternoon tours and $10 for the evening tours.
On select Fridays and Saturdays, the Burlington County Parks System will also host special self-guided tours of Smithville village, including an 1832 home, the Worker’s House Gallery and the old schoolhouse. Victorian carolers will be present during the tours and children can make an ornament for Smithville’s community tree. Hot chocolate and cookies will also be served and letters to Santa will be accepted.
The evening tours will be from 6 to 8 PM on Dec. 3, 9, 16 and 17. For more information, visit the program guide.
Health and Fitness at the Lyceum
Colder temperatures won’t bring an end to Burlington County’s health and fitness classes. During winter, yoga, Zumba and Tabata classes will be held indoors at the Burlington County Lyceum of History and Natural Sciences, 307 High Street, Mount Holly.
Classes are free but registration is required. Attendees are also encouraged to bring their own yoga or exercise mat. Check out the program guide for dates and times.
Wildlife in winter
Winter may be hibernation time for some wildlife, but there are plenty of species that remain active through the winter months. Learn more about how local wildlife and plants survive winter during a special January 17 lecture at the Lyceum of History and Natural Sciences or visit a park with one of the County’s naturalists during several scheduled hikes and moonlit walks.
Experienced bird watchers are also needed for the County’s Winter Bird Count, a scientific survey of bird species that spend winter in County parks. A complete schedule for the bird count days and locations is included in the program guide, along with numerous other nature-related programs and classes.
Burlington County and the American Revolution
Most of us know about General George Washington’s daring Delaware River crossing during the pivotal Battle of Trenton, but it may have all been for naught if not for several skirmishes in Burlington County that prevented a large segment of Hessian forces from reinforcing those in Trenton.
Learn about how significant Burlington County was to America’s independence during a December 7 program at the Lyceum led by the County Historian. Registration is required.
Kids in the Kitchen
The Burlington County Agricultural Center’s farmhouse kitchen will host numerous cooking classes throughout the season, including a new one designed for children between the ages of 7 and 13.
The first Kids in the Kitchen: Imperfect Pizza class will be held January 29, from 10 AM to noon. Participants will learn the basics of making pizza, including how to form and stretch dough, chop vegetables, spread sauce and sprinkle cheese. The drop-off class will also cover kitchen and food safety techniques and some basic nutrition. Registration is required and space is limited. There is a $40 fee for each participant (includes a supervising adult if requested).
There are also dozens of additional Parks programs, classes and events that will be held throughout the season online and at County facilities.
“From our County art galleries and museums to our majestic parks and online programming, there is no shortage of events and activities that will engage, entertain and enlighten,” said Eckel. “You can learn about them all in the program guide, so we encourage all our residents to take some time to review it and plan for a season of fun and excitement here at home.”