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January Events 

From free admission at Lewis Ginter to the Richmond Jewish Food Festival, a look at the month ahead.

click to enlarge The orchids inside the conservatory are the stars of the show right now at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. It’s worth noting that the GardenFest of Lights runs through Jan. 9. Tickets are still available
  • The orchids inside the conservatory are the stars of the show right now at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. It’s worth noting that the GardenFest of Lights runs through Jan. 9. Tickets are still available

The holidays are in the rearview mirror and the days are getting colder. While hibernation may seem like the path of least resistance, January offers plenty of reasons to leave the comfort of your couch and the tedium of screens. Just don’t forget your mask since most indoor venues are going to require them during this highly contagious season. Here are some:

January may be the quietest month in the garden, but there’s still plenty to admire outdoors. Bundle up for the weather or choose one of our unseasonably temperate winter days to head to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden for a freebie. From Jan. 10 through 16, all garden visitors are invited to stroll the grounds without paying any admission fee. You’re sure to see colorful berries such as Oregon grape and Japanese apricot ‘Bonita’ along with the stark beauty of leafless trees under winter light. With any luck, you may even spot some early-blooming daffodils and snowdrops. For a respite from the cold, step into the conservatory (mask up first), where you’re sure to be dazzled by exotic cacti, tropical plants, and showy orchids. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, 1800 Lakeside Dr.

Music of freedom, triumph and inspiration will be featured in the Richmond Symphony’s “Dreams of Freedom” performance on Jan. 15 at 11 a.m. at the Carpenter Center. The one-hour performance is intended as an introduction to the dream and message of Martin Luther King, Jr. and was created especially for young listeners, but promises to hold appeal for all ages. Running through the concert is a narrative piece, “My Hero, Martin,” commissioned from Morgan Avery McCoy, an author, actor, and filmmaker dedicated to teaching historical truths. Richmond Symphony, 612 E. Grace St.

Beef brisket. Kugel. Matzah ball soup. Come Jan. 16, you can find all those mouth-watering dishes, plus more at the 14th annual Richmond Jewish Food Festival from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For those of us lacking a Bubbie, it’s reason enough to get out of the house. Fair warning, though: this year’s event is heat-and-eat only, so you’ll need to drive through the Weinstein JCC’s pickup lane to snag your stuffed cabbage and knishes before taking them home to savor. In the mood for a sweet finish to your meal? Check out Bubbie’s Bakery to find your favorites from a menu that includes black and white cookies, strawberry nut rugelach and almond horns, to name just a few. Weinstein JCC, 5403 Monument Ave.

If you’ve never been to The Valentine Museum’s First Freedom Center, January is an appropriate time to address that. Dedicated to sharing the legacy of Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom - as well as exploring the evolution of freedom of conscience through the modern day - the Shockoe Bottom site invites visitors to a socially distanced celebration of Religious Freedom Day. Come out Jan. 16 and 17 from noon to 4 p.m. to take an easy one-mile self-guided walking tour of the historic neighborhood and learn about the struggles for freedom that helped shape America. Stop into the First Freedom Center afterward for hot chocolate, tea and an eye-spy activity for young visitors. The Valentine First Freedom Center, 14 S. 14th St.

Sure, you can make a fire during the summer, but it doesn’t have the same magic it does at this time of year. And let’s face it, the crisp, clear nights of winter are just about ideal, not only for campfires, but for stargazing. Plan to be at Maymont Farm from 7 to 9 p.m. on Jan. 21 to enjoy a night under the stars while keeping toasty around a campfire. Layer up and if you have them, bring a pair of binoculars or a telescope to enhance your viewing pleasure. Best of all, Maymont supplies everything for making s’mores, the stargazer’s preferred snack. Space is limited, so be sure to register by Jan. 9. Maymont, 1000 Westover Rd.

The woman who caused King Edward VIII to abdicate the British throne is the subject of a juicy curator’s talk at VMFA on January 26 at 6:30 p.m. “When Man Ray Met Wallis Simpson” follows the American divorcée who had an affair with the king and caused a constitutional crisis when he resolved to marry her despite her two ex-husbands. Dr. Michael Taylor, who curated the spectacular VMFA exhibit, “Man Ray: The Paris Years,” delivers the talk, sharing the backstory of how Man Ray's portraits of Simpson played a huge role in the scandal that forever changed the course of British history. The lecture is free, but registration is required at vmfa.museum. VMFA, 200 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd.

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