If you’re wondering what to do for Thanksgiving, look no further than Lancaster County. It’s harvest time, and that means you’ll find a variety of fall festivities throughout the area. Bird-in-Hand puts you in the middle of all the fun, and you can always count on the friendly and knowledgeable folks on our staff to point you in the right direction. If you are looking for the top ideas before you plan your trip, here are a few suggestions.
“FALL” IN LOVE WITH LANCASTER
When harvest season arrives, Pennsylvania Dutch Country comes alive. The Pumpkin Madness Festival at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm in early November is a fun family-friendly event that offers a unique answer to that age-old question of what to do with the pumpkin after Halloween. It’s just one of many fairs and festivals held throughout the Lancaster area from late summer until after the first frost. Others include Indian Echo Caverns Fall Festival and Old-Fashioned Day, the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, the New Holland Farmer’s Fair and, of course, the annual Lancaster Hot Air Balloon Festival and Country Fair right here in Bird-in-Hand.
TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT…
If you’re headed to Lititz for the Craft Beer Fest, or you just want to explore the charming town, check out the fall cooking classes at Zest. From fall comfort dishes to Halloween spooky treats to a fabulous Thanksgiving Dinner Make & Take or a Fresh Gingerbread House Workshop for parents and kids, they offer a variety of classes for the novice and experienced chef alike. But sign up early—classes fill fast. If you’re here for Halloween and looking for a real treat, try The Spooky Scoot in October at Strasburg Scooter Tours. Tour dates vary for the ride, which lasts an hour and a half to two hours and explores some of southern Lancaster County’s best-loved haunts.
…OR GO TRADITIONAL
If you’d prefer a more traditional autumn activity, you might want to do a fall foliage hike or visit Kauffman Orchards here in Bird-in-Hand, where your autumn U-Pick fruit offerings include apples, pears and pumpkins. There’s lots more to do here in the village. You could combine a romantic fall weekend stay at the historic Village Inn & Suites or any of our other lodging properties with a hot air balloon ride and spend two-and-a-half to three hours soaring over Amish farms and fields—and getting a bird’s-eye view of the leaves as they change color. You can also get a head start on your holiday shopping. The new Bird-in-Hand Artisan Village hosts dozens of local vendors under one roof. You’ll find unique, high-quality merchandise, from home furnishings and décor, to apparel, jewelry and other accessories, to original artwork, to heirloom quality toys and much, much more. You’ll find several other shops nearby, as well as the Bird-in-Hand Farmer’s Market, which is open Wednesday through Saturday in the fall, and Creative Rustic Furniture, which offers a great selection of fall décor, including mums, pumpkins and more.
MAKE YOUR THANKSGIVING MEMORABLE—AND EASY
If you usually spend Thanksgiving in the kitchen, think about celebrating the holiday in a way that lets you spend more time with family and friends. You can enjoy a farm-fresh holiday meal at the Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant and Smorgasbord, where you can choose from all the traditional favorites, including tender roast turkey, homestyle gravy, baked ham with pineapple sauce, Pennsylvania Dutch bread filling, real mashed potatoes, rolls and butter and your favorite side dishes as well as fresh-baked pies and other goodies. Just be sure to make your reservations early—many families have already made our Grand Holiday Smorgasbord a part of their Thanksgiving Day tradition.
If you’re looking for something fun to do before the big meal, Strasburg Scooter Tours leads a Thanksgiving Day Tour through the crisp Lancaster County countryside. The tour departs the Strasburg location at 9 a.m. and lasts two to three hours as you travel backcountry roads and past beautiful covered bridges. The itinerary changes every year, so it’s always a new experience.
SKIP THE MALLS ON BLACK FRIDAY
You can kick off your holiday gift shopping without the hassle of the crowded suburban shopping malls. At Bird-in-Hand Artisan Village you’ll find truly unique, handcrafted items—handbags, leather goods, jewelry, candles, oil lamps and other ceramics, exquisite examples of folk art like fraktur and soaps and scrubs, scroll sawing, stained glass and more—even gifts for the little ones. We’re just minutes from all the shops at Kitchen Kettle Village and equally convenient to hundreds of outlet stores just outside Lancaster. Speaking of downtown Lancaster, don’t miss Lancaster City for the holidays, with events like the Mayor’s Tree Lighting on Friday night, Small Business Saturday, and more.
LET US ENTERTAIN YOU
After shopping, catch a holiday show. Lancaster County offers lots of opportunities to get in the spirit. Our Christmas Dinner…a holiday musical serves up plenty of laughs, holiday memories and a whole lot of football. This heartfelt and funny show runs through December 30 on the Bird-in-Hand Stage. Just down the road at Magic & Wonder Dinner Theater, the heartwarming Winter Wonderland holiday show brings together the fun and wonderment of the Christmas season with comedy, music, dynamic circus arts and grand illusions. Less than 10 minutes from Bird-in-Hand, Sight & Sound Theatres brings the Miracle of Christmas to life with massive sets and live animals in a show that transports you back in time to a stable in Bethlehem. Equally convenient, American Music Theatre presents its 2023 Christmas show, The First Noel, featuring your favorite seasonal and sacred Christmas songs brought to life by marvelous singers and dancers, wondrous costumes and breathtaking sets.
MAKE PAUL’S PUMPKIN PATCH PUDDING
If you missed the Pumpkin Madness Festival and you’re still wondering what to do with those pumpkins, try this recipe from our popular Recipes and Recollections 50th-anniversary cookbook, available from our online store.
For the crust, combine 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, 1/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup melted butter and press the ingredients into a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish. Set aside.
For the cream cheese layer, beat 1 8-ounce package of softened cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar and 2 eggs until blended. Pour the mixture over the crust and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until set. Cool on wire rack for 1 hour.
For the pumpkin filling, soften 1 tablespoon of unflavored gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water and set aside. In a small bowl, beat 6 egg yolks until thick and lemon colored, then set aside. In a saucepan, combine 3 cups cooked pumpkin, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Let boil for 2 minutes.
Stir 1 cup of the hot pumpkin mixture into the yolks, then return all to the pan. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in softened gelatin.
Set pan in ice water and stir until mixture reaches room temperature (about 5 minutes).
Beat 1 cup of heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 cup sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Fold into pumpkin mixture and pour over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
Happy Thanksgiving from the Smucker Family and all of us here at Bird-in-Hand!