Christmas Music 101 With Night Before On XPN Host Robert Drake

For the 22nd year in a row, WXPN host—and our 2014 Best of Philly pick for Best DJ—Robert Drake will stay up for 24 hours on Christmas Eve playing the enormous collection of holiday music he’s collected since his youth. Called The Night Before on XPN, the exhaustive set will include every type of holiday song imaginable—rare tunes, as I learned this week, that reach as far back as 1918. I caught up with him to learn more about this monster collection, how he stays awake all night and, since he’s the closest thing I know to a holiday-song expert, glean some yuletide-tune etiquette: When is it too early to start blaring “Jingle Bells?” What are the three most-own holiday albums? Is Mariah really worth the hype? He lays it all out in our chit-chat below.

Robert Drake in the studio. | Photo by Joseph Hocker

Robert Drake in the studio. | Photo by Joseph Hocker

How many songs are in your holiday music collection?
Wow, that is a hard one to answer since my collection is primarily based in CDs … but I’d say I’ve got easily 20,000 songs going back to 1918.

 You have a song from 1918?!
It’s a reading of “The Night Before Christmas.” It was on a holiday compilation I got several years ago.

What sparked your fascination with Christmas music?
As most kids, I loved hearing Christmas music since it meant Santa wasn’t far behind. As I got older, I loved the fact that, no matter what genre of music you performed, you could always produce a Christmas album. Some great, most fair and a decent amount truly awful.

Earliest Christmas song memory?
For me it’s Kate Smith performing “Silver Bells.” I’ve no idea why, but it does explain my fascination with Divine years later.

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Spend Christmas Eve with Serpico


Photo by Mike Persico

Serpico has been promoting his $65 family-style Christmas Eve dinner on social media but until now hasn’t shared the menu. If you’re interested in a dinner that certainly isn’t the feast of seven fishes or have an out-of-town friend coming to town, that you want to impress, this might be the dinner for you.

Full menu »

Try These Twelve Beers of Christmas


Christmas beers are a yearly tradition that actually has some history behind them. As Don Russell notes in his book, Christmas Beer, The Cheeriest, Tastiest and Most Unusual Holiday Brews, Christmas beers have a legacy that goes back to the Middle Ages and maybe even before Christmas itself.

Today, Christmas beers are often dark beers, brewed with spices and strong malty character, but since Christmas beers are more of a tradition than a style, there’s something out there for everyone.

Here are twelve of our favorite wintertime brews »

PHOTOS: A Very Longwood Gardens Christmas

Did you know that it takes over a year for the staff at Longwood Gardens to plan and execute their annual Christmas festivities? Not to get ahead of ourselves, but they are already putting the finishing touches on organizing next year’s displays. That’s how grand and downright spectacular the lights, trees, and handcrafted scenes are at the iconic Kennett Square landmark. This year, the gardens have already welcomed thousands of visitors for their annual holiday extravaganza since it opened on Thanksgiving Day, and they’ll be hosting many more: They’re open until 10 p.m. throughout early January to accommodate the number of guests who want to bask in the glow of the magical lights. There’s even an entire tree made of thousands of hand-cut paper leaves and paper-mache penguins sliding down a mountain of silver dichondra!

If you can’t wait, we’ve brought a taste of the holiday gardens to you via the following pictures that capture the little extra something that Longwood presents throughout the holiday season. And, heck: we even included a picture of their award-winning bathroom (yes, you read that right.)

15 Holiday Events Worth Your Time in Philadelphia


The Seaport Parade of Lights is Saturday, December 13th. | Photo via Facebook.

You froze while site-seeing, you can’t get the Nutcracker theme out of your head, and you finished shopping last month. What now? Get out and warm up at one of the city’s festive holiday gatherings.

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Christmas Tree Farms in Pennsylvania and New Jersey: Where to Cut Your Own Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree Farms in Pennsylvania and New Jersey: Where to Cut Your Own Christmas Tree

Want to cut your own Christmas tree this year? Here’s where to do it | Shutterstock

Kill two birds with one stone this year: Cut your own Christmas tree. Not only will you get to haul home a beautiful, fresh, delicious smelling pine, fir or spruce, you’ll also get a killer arm workout! Just be sure to rehydrate with some steaming hot cocoa afterwards. (Doctor’s orders.)

Excited to get chopping? Here are 18 Christmas tree farms in our Pennsylvania and New Jersey where you can chop, chop, chop to your heart’s content.

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Christmas Tree Decorating Ideas in Atlantic City? Yup!

It doesn’t sound like a likely pair: Atlantic City and Christmas trees. However, the folks at DOAC are going all out by presenting a series of gorgeously decorated holiday trees at the free Atlantic City Tree and Light Fest. The display, located at The Walk, Atlantic City’s massive collection of outlets, has Christmas ideas for every taste, including some trees that are dedicated to the City of Brotherly Love (and even a naughty one that celebrates “adult” entertainment).

We have some fabulous shots of what you can expect below. If you’re interested in getting jolly down by the shore, the festivities run through January 2. For more information, click here.

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