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19 reasons why this just might be the best Philly winter ever

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

Asian Arts Initiative

New Year's Eve fireworks over the Delaware River

So, we did this for summer, why not for the colder months? Check out our 19 reasons why this will be the best Philly winter ever.

1. The return of Winterfest -- this time with even more firepits!
This yearly pop-up hygge fest and ice skating party has become a Philly institution. Head down to the waterfront for local beer, hot toddies, firepits, twinkling lights and snacks. This year's incarnation will boast about 100,000 individual LED bulbs, movie nights, nibbles from the Garces Group and sweet stuff from Franklin Fountain. 

2. Creed
OK, so according to box office numbers, most of the city has already hit theaters to catch this Rocky reboot. But that doesn't mean you can't go again, relishing the opportunity to see Philadelphia in the spotlight alongside superstar-in-training Michael B. Jordan.

3. High-end happy hour at Tria Fitler Square
Sometimes when the days are short and the wind is biting you need a splurge -- a reasonable splurge. Enter Tria with their "Luxury Happy Hour," a chance to sample a weekly rotation of pricey wines for the easy amount of $10. From acidic French whites to full-bodied Italian reds, you can taste the high life at a discount.  

4. We're getting a new mayor
After eight years under Mayor Michael Nutter, change is coming. In November, democrat Jim Kenney won the job in a landslide with over 85 percent of the vote. He will be inaugurated on January 4 and get to work on an ambitious progressive agenda that includes universal Pre-K and continuing Nutter's work to make Philly a more sustainable city.

5. Delivery from Xi'an Sizzling Woks
Sometimes it's just too cold to leave the house. After many long years of seeking the delivery Chinese of my dreams, I discovered that this Chinatown spot specializing in food from the Xi'an Province will bring it directly to my door. Don't come looking for General Tso's, but instead stick to the regional specialities such as lamb and pita soup, cold lang pi noodles and dumplings in chili oil.

6. Winter CSA from Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op (LFFC)
Just because the seasons change, doesn't mean you can't enjoy local produce. Cauliflower! Broccoli! Leafy greens! Root vegetables! A couple of farmers' markets -- including Rittenhouse and Chestnut Hill -- even stay open year-round. Need more brussels sprouts? LFFC, a collective of sustainable producers, offers a weekly CSA share that can be supplemented with a cheese share, egg share, bread share, meat share or milk share. Pick-up locations are available across the city.

7. Flying Kite On the Ground in Callowhill, and then Strawberry Mansion
You know I couldn't leave us off the list. We're camped out at Asian Arts Initiative through the end of January -- visit during office hours (Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.) and stay tuned for exciting programming and events. In February, we're off to Strawberry Mansion and can't wait to explore another evolving Philadelphia neighborhood. 

8. Hungry Pigeon opens in Queen Village
Fabric Row is evolving, and part of that change is an influx of new dining options for Queen Village residents. Scott Schroeder -- of South Philly Taproom and American Sardine Bar fame -- and Pat O'Malley are behind this all-day cafe opening in a sunny corner spot at Fourth and Fitzwater Streets. One the menu: fresh unfussy baked goods from O'Malley (a Balthazar vet) and their take on an Egg McMuffin.

9. SEPTA Key
Could it really be true? Is SEPTA's long-anticipated high-tech upgrade really on the horizon? All signs point to yes -- in early 2016 we'll be saying goodbye to tokens and public transit in Philly will never be the same. 

10. Pho
Nothing better when the mercury drops than a steaming bowl of this classic Vietnamese soup topped with fresh herbs and a squirt of lime. There are a ton of great spots in South Philly, including Pho Ha and Pho 75. If you're looking for something a little swankier, check out Stock in Fishtown.

11. Lights at Longwood Gardens
This Chester County gem is getting all decked out for the holidays with A Longwood Christmas. Check out an Italian Water Garden illuminated with a 20-foot tree form, a maple tree with its roots aglow near the Meadow Boardwalk and colorful fountains at the Open Air Theatre. Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, cosy up to the new fire pit (4:30 - 9 p.m.).

12. Cheap rates and amazing beer at the Jersey Shore 
Sure, the weather might not be balmy, but that doesn't mean you should cross the Jersey Shore off your list. It's a perfect weekend getaway -- room rates are at rock bottom, beaches are dramatically empty and pubs are packed with locals. But the real attraction is a visit to Cape May Brewing Company at the old Cape May Airport. Their ambitious beers are stupendous and sipping your way through the whole draft list with 4 oz. tasters is easy as can be. Insiders' tip: It's BYO snacks. 

13. Pay-What-You-Wish admission at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Come in out of the cold on the first Sunday of the month or on any Wednesday evening and pay nothing (or more!) to see one of the greatest collections of art in the world. It's a dream date night for the depths of winter.  

14. Your favorite neighborhood bar
Sometimes when the weather outside it frightful, the best place to grab a drink is simply the piece of pine closest to your home. It's no longer about where has the best al fresco dining or innovative craft cocktails -- it's about a place with affordable brews that welcomes you, hoodie, snow boots and all. Some of my personal favorites: Fountain Porter, The Dive, Dirty Franks, Standard Tap, Sidecar, South Philly Taproom, The Pope, Prohibition Taproom, Fiume, Happy Rooster.

15. Christmas Light Show at Macy's
Even a cynical Jew like me can get behind this beloved Philadelphia tradition. The Wanamaker Building has played host to an old-school light-and-music extravaganza since 1955. Arrive early to get a spot by the iconic eagle. The show runs through December 31 (Closed Christmas Day) at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

16. Off hours at The Dandelion
Whether you're cozying up at the bar for half-price pints at Happy Hour or nabbing a spot by the fire for afternoon tea, the best time to hit up this popular Rittenhouse pub is outside the dinner hours. I can't think of a better snowstorm reprieve than a full Sunday roast complete with Yorkshire pudding and horseradish sauce. 

17. Philly Fair Trade Roasters' French Roast
Available across town at grocery stores and cafes, this rich, complex coffee will set you right on chilly mornings. It's roasted locally and always ludicrously fresh. An added bonus: The whole beans still come in one-pound bags -- a dying standard among craft roasters -- making them a great value.

18. Cheap 76ers tickets
Sigh...the one great thing about having one of the worst teams in professional sports history is discounted tickets. Hit up Stubhub for great seats at single-digit prices and spend all that extra dough on beer -- you'll need it to get through the game.

19. Stouts galore
After a summer of IPAs and weiss beers, and a fall filled with pumpkin brews and Octoberfests, it's time to get dark. Winter means rich stouts (imperial, if you dare) and smoky porters. Victory's Storm King and Dogfish Head's Chicory Stout never disappoint.

What are your favorite winter traditions? Let us know @flyingkitemedia or on our facebook page.

LEE STABERT is managing editor of Flying Kite Media. Follow her on twitter @stabert.

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