What To Do: Downingtown Parade, Kennett Solstice ring in holidays

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By Denny DyroffStaff Writer, The Times

The Downingtown Good Neighbor Christmas Parade.

Downingtown has always been a neighborly town – so neighborly that it has an annual event schedule that includes Good Neighbor Day each summer and Good Neighbor Christmas (downtown Downingtown, http://www.dtownchristmas.com) every winter.

On December 10, Downingtown will host its annual Good Neighbor Christmas event beginning at 2:30 p.m. Activities include free refreshments, live entertainment by Brother Bob and Company, Octorara Intermediate School Band and Touch of Class.

Downingtown Good Neighbor Christmas includes a variety of events but the main focus is always on the Downingtown Christmas Parade which will start at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The parade will have its main route along Lancaster Avenue. There is no rain date.

Some of this year’s participating bands will be Downingtown Blue and Gold Marching Band, Bishop Shanahan High School Marching Band, Eagles Pep Band, Chester County Emerald Society Pipe Band, Penn Dixie Band, Lukens Band, Duffy String Band and Gina Miller & Division Highway.

All activities featured in Downingtown Good Neighbor Christmas are free but a donation is requested. Bring a canned or boxed food item to donate.

The holiday open house at the Coatesville Steel Museum.

Coatesville will be the site of a special Christmas event on December 9 from 5-8 p.m. — the “Holiday Open House” at the National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum (50 South First Avenue, Coatesville, 610-384-9282, www.steelmuseum.org).

Visitors will be able to stroll through candlelit grounds, enjoy holiday refreshments and listen to live music performed by carolers and the Lukens Band. They can also tour lavishly-decorated, historic buildings, shop at the museum store and check out an interesting model train display.

The museum will also host a “Brunch with Santa” on December 10 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Families can enjoy brunch and then kids can receive a picture with Santa. The brunch is $5 and the photographs are free.

Kennett Square celebrates the holidays all month. One way to get in the holiday spirit in Kennett Square is by taking a special seasonal ride. Horse-drawn carriage rides will be offered on December 11 and 18 from noon to 3 p.m. The rides begin at the intersection of State and Union streets and tickets are $5.

On December 10, the Kennett Library (216 East State Street, Kennett Square, 610-444-2702, kennettlibrary.org) will host its annual Solstice Arts & Craft Fair from 109 a.m.-2 p.m. The library will spend four hours in holiday market mode.

The vendors at Saturday’s event will be Brandywine Basics, Hi Buff!, ChesCo Photography, Emily Pellini, Grete Design, Lenape Flower Farm, Michele Meehan, Mary Ann Piccard, Soothing Suds, The Write Group Kennett Square and author Aurora Cannon.

As an added bonus, the Kennett YMCA (101 Race Street, Kennett Square, 610-444-9622, www.ymcagbw.org) is hosting a “Drop and Shop” program on December 10.

Parents can drop off their kids (ages six weeks to 12 years) for a supervised session from 1-5 p.m. Children can enjoy an afternoon of fun and games while their parents take care of holiday-related activities.

The cost for “Drop and Shop” is $15 per child.

Forget about coming down chimney and getting all dirty. On December 10, Santa Claus will drop in using a totally different method when he visits the American Helicopter Museum (1220 American Blvd., West Chester, 610-436-9600, www.helicoptermuseum.org). Children will be able to stand outside and watch with amazement when Santa arrives in a helicopter at 11 a.m.

Activities get underway at 10 a.m. with face painting and cookie decorating and then Santa and Mrs. Claus land at 11 a.m. accompanied by one of Santa’s very special elves. Inside the museum, children will also be able to enjoy refreshments and Christmas activities — including visiting with Santa and telling him what items are on their holiday wish list.

Local author Linda Kerschner will read and autograph her new children’s book, “Cheerful Chopper to the Rescue!”

Kids will have the opportunity to make a helicopter ornament to cheer our Cheerful Chopper Christmas Tree and take one home for their tree. They also can pet Sawyer the Golden Retriever who is one of Paws for People’s therapy dogs and enjoy the music of strolling musicians.

Admission is $10 per person and includes a photo opportunity with Santa.

As an added attraction for the entire family, helicopter rides will also be available throughout the day — weather permitting. Tickets for the ride are $60 per person.

On December 10, the Schuylkill Canal Association will present a special “Holiday Luminaria” from 6-9 p.m. at Lock 60 at Schuylkill Canal Park (400 Towpath Road, Mont Clare, 610-917-8030, www.schuylkillcanal.org).

Visitors will be able to step back in time to a Dickens’ holiday scene, as they enter the beautifully-decorated Locktender’s house. Guests can sing along with the joyful music played by local musicians and partake in holiday treats and hot cider.

The event will be cancelled only if there is a steady downpour of rain or snow. The magnificent light display is even more mystical if there is a slight drizzle, misty fog or a few inches of snow, truly creating a beautiful holiday scene.

All are welcome. A donation of $1 or more will be gladly accepted. Ample parking is available at Lock 60.

 

The Mill at Anselma

On December 9, the Mill at Anselma (1730 Conestoga Road, Chester Springs, 610-827-1906, www.anselmamill.org) will offer “Christmas Lantern Tours” from 5-6 p.m.

The Mill, which was built in the 1740s, has been decorated for the holidays and is ready for an old-fashioned winter event. The site’s expanded holiday gift shop will be open throughout the event.

On December 11, it will be time for “Santa Visits the Mill.” The big guy in the red suit will be on site from 10 a.m.-4 to welcome kids of all ages and hear what their holiday wishes are.

December 12 is also one of the site’s “Milling Demonstration Days.” Special technology tours will be available that focus on how different parts of the mill works. Visitors can meet the miller and hear him talk about how the gears work and what they do. There are also hands-on interactive activities for the children as they sift flour and operate a pump on a smaller water wheel.

Tickets are $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for children (ages 4-14).

On December 10, Historic Sugartown (609 Sugartown Road, Malvern, 610-640-2667, www.historicsugartown.org) will present “A Sugartown Christmas”. The event, which runs from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., will have a Victorian flavor throughout.

Visitors can learn about Victorian holiday traditions as they move around the village. Youngsters will be able to decorate gingerbread houses and cookies and make take-home Victorian ornaments. They can also visit with Santa at the c. 1805 William Garrett House and enjoy holiday treats and hot cocoa.

Vendors and special exhibitors at this year’s event will be local authors Bruce Mowday and Iris Gray Dowling, Barretta’s Inc. Soap Factory, LuLaRoe Consultant Lorraine Groses, Marziani Handmade Jewelry, and Cristin Rojas Photography.

Admission is 6 for adults, $5 for seniors (60 and older), $4 for children (ages 3-17) and free for children (two and under).

Arasapha Farm

A fun — and maybe a little chilly — way to celebrate the holidays is to go on a “Holiday Hayride” at Arasapha Farm (1835 Middletown Road, Gradyville, 610-459-2944, www.holidayhayride.com).

Guests will ride on sound-equipped hay wagons through a six-acre holiday wonderland featuring huge light displays, decorated trees and buildings, a variety of Christmas scenes, live reindeer and a beautifully animated Santa’s workshop. The hayride last about 20 minutes and is choreographed with all the favorite songs of the season.

After the wagon ride, guests are encouraged to gather around the bonfire to enjoy hot beverages. There also will be opportunities to have pictures taken with Santa and check out the live nativity scene that features real animals and actors. And, kids can take a ride on the Arasapha Express — a kiddie train ride through light displays and tunnels.

Arasapha Farm is featuring its “Holiday Hayride” on December 9-11 and 16-23 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. each night — weather permitting. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $10 for children (ages 2-8). Train ride tickets are $5. Pictures with Santa are $15.

“Christmasland at Linvilla” converts a summertime destination for home-grown produce into a sparkling winter wonderland. The popular annual event at Linvilla Orchards (137 West Knowlton Road, Media, 610-876-7116, www.linvilla.com) is running now through December 23.

Visitors will be able to cut their own Christmas trees, or, if not so inspired, purchase them at the shop — which also features other decorations, including holiday wreaths. Christmasland features freshly-cut trees, greens and holly, poinsettias, hand-made wreaths and a large variety of children’s toys and collectables.

Santa and his elves will be stopping by every Saturday and Sunday to visit his friends in Christmasland from 1-3 p.m. And, there will be caroling Hayrides Saturday evenings in December that include the ancient tradition of Wassailing, singing Christmas Carols around a campfire and roasting marshmallows.

If you’re in the mood for a live concert featuring Christmas music but figure that money would be better spent on other holiday needs, there is a good option for you this weekend – a free concert featuring a program of time holiday classics.

On December 10, Hadley Fund will present a “Celtic Christmas Concert” featuring Seasons Family Band. The show will start at 7 p.m. at Patton Middle School Auditorium, which is located at 760 Unionville Road in Kennett Square.

According to the show’s announcement, “Admission is free — the experience is priceless.”

Valley Forge Dog Shows

On December 10 and 11, the Valley Forge Kennel Club, Inc. will host the annual Valley Forge Dog Shows at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center (100 Station Ave., Oaks, 484-754-3976, http://www.valleyforgekc.org).

The Valley Forge Kennel Club, Inc. will host two all-breed dog shows with totally separate competitions each day featuring “National Owner-Handled Series,” “4-6 Month Beginner Puppy Competition,” “Junior Showmanship,” “Obedience Trial” (open to All-American dogs), and two “Rally Obedience Trials.” There also will be a variety of health clinics.

Admission either day is $10 for adults, $5 for children (ages 4-15) and free for children (3 and under).

If you’re looking to have a howling good time this weekend, consider the “Full Moon Tour” at the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania (465 Speedwell Forge Road, Lititz, 717-626-4617, http://wolfsanctuarypa.org).

The Sanctuary offers this tour once a month on the closest Saturday to the full moon. This month, the date is December 10 and the full moon is appropriately known as the Cold Moon. This is an event in which participants are invited to create their own experiences.

Instead of following a tour guide from pack to pack at a regulated pace that fits within a 45-minute time line, you get to go at your own pace from pack to pack talking to tour guides who are stationed at each pack. You can listen to what they have to say about the wolves when stopping at a station or you can ask questions. 

With this tour, you move at your own pace. If you get tired, you can go over and sit next to a roaring bond fire (weather permitting) and just relax. Visitors are requested to bring a blanket, a flashlight, a chair and maybe some hot dogs and marshmallows. The tour starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and no reservations are required.

Visitors are invited to experience the magic of the holidays at the Franklin Square Holiday Festival (Franklin Square, Sixth and Race streets, Philadelphia, www.historicphiladelphia.org). Now through December 31, there will be an amazing display of lights at the Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show.

Inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s electrifying genius, the Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show features more than 50,000 lights that shimmer, dance, and illuminate the Square to a soundtrack of holiday classics performed by The Philly POPS in two alternating shows every 30 minutes.

The festival will also offer comfort food, authentic German beers, and hot beverages at Ben’s Bites & Brews and gift shopping at the Holiday Market.

Video link for Electrical Spectacle — https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=b4dQHm5GX1s.

On December 10, the Independence Seaport Museum (211 South Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia, 215-413-8655, phillyseaport.org/lights) will present its annual “Parade of Lights” along the Delaware River near Penn’s Landing starting at 5:30 p.m.

The lighted boat parade features Philly’s working port, with tugboats and other vessels decorated in lights. Before the parade, spectators can spend the day inside the Museum for holiday activities and entertainment. Museum visitors will get the best view of the parade from the second floor balcony overlooking the Delaware River. 

Some of the event’s attractions are Santa’s “Workshop on the Water” (to make holiday ornaments and gingerbread boats), live music by a local high school choir, a lighted model ship display in the Ship Model Shack and the “Silver Ships Display,” a holiday tradition featuring dozens of tiny silver ships from the Museum’s collection.

Visitors can arrive as early at 11 a.m. to explore the Museum and participate in the festivities, including a pop-up exhibit, arts and crafts, face painting, musical performances by The Philly Pops, a visit from Santa and so much more. United States Coast Guard Cutter Diligence will be on the waterfront for the event to conduct free tours for the public. Tours take place December 10 and11 and run from 10 a.m. to sunset.

Activities and entertainment are included with admission. Admission to the museum costs $15 for adults and $10 for seniors, children, students and military.

This weekend is also time for several similar theatrical presentations — not on stages but rather in churches and in a museum. Every year, this is the weekend that Saint Lucia Day festivities begin.

There are two churches in the area that are presenting interesting Lucia Fest pageants this weekend. Both have the same name — Gloria Dei Old Swedes’ Church.

At Gloria Dei Old Swedes’ Church (Delaware Avenue and Christian Street, Philadelphia, 215- 389-1513, www.Old-Swedes.org), the 2016 Lucia Fest will be held on December 9-11. At Gloria Dei Old Swedes’ Church (606 Church Street, Wilmington Delaware, 302- 652-5629, www.oldswedes.org), the Sankta Lucia Celebration is scheduled for December 13.

Lucia is a Swedish festival that features a Lucia procession with traditional songs and dances. Lucia, wearing a white gown and a crown of candles, leads the procession, followed by girls dressed in gowns who act as her attendants. Boys also join the festivities as starboys.

At Gloria Dei Old Swedes’ Church in Philadelphia, a number of Swedish traditions of the holiday season are woven into a colorful pageant that is presented in a church building constructed by Swedish colonists in 1699-1700. The climax is the entrance of “Santa Lucia”, who was a martyr in the fourth century.

The Lucia Fest & St. Eric’s Fair at Old Swedes’ Church will be held December 11 at 6 and 8 p.m. and December 12 and 13 at 2, 3:30 and 5 p.m.

Before, during and after each of the presentations, the St. Eric’s Fair, a Christmas bazaar that specializes in Scandinavian imports, is held in the Parish Hall that adjoins the Church. Tickets for the Lucia event are $13 for adults and $7 for children (ages 11 and under).

Gloria Dei Old Swedes’ Church in Delaware will present its traditional celebration of the Feast Day of Sankta Lucia on December 11 at 1 p.m. and again at 3 p.m.

The Delaware Swedish Colonial Society, which sponsors the annual December celebration, will also have its Hendrickson House Museum open to the public. The museum, which has been decorated for a Swedish Christmas will be open for tours and shopping from noon-5 p.m. The doors of the church will open 30 minutes prior to each performance.

Tickets for the 2016 Sankta Lucia Celebration are $10 for adults and $5 for children.

On December 10 from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Historic New Castle (Fourth Street, New Castle, Delaware, 302-328-3279, http://www.newcastlepreschurch.org/spirit) will be the site of a special event called “The Spirit of Christmas.”

The free event, which is celebrating its 16th anniversary this year, is sponsored by the New Castle Visitors’ Bureau and the New Castle Presbyterian Church. Activities include tours of many historic homes decorated for the season, museum tours, events at the New Castle Court House (part of the First State National Monument) and musical performances and entertainment throughout the town.

The New Castle Presbyterian Church will hold an all-day sale of crafts, used books, homemade soups candies, baked goods and breads.

The final event of the day’s festivities will begin at 5 p.m. with the town’s annual tree lighting ceremony and caroling in the Market Square. All proceeds generated by the New Castle Presbyterian Church will be donated to support the Friendship House, Inc. of Wilmington, Delaware, ministry to the homeless.

On December 10, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania (Route 741, Strasburg, 717- 687-8628, www.rrmuseumpa.org) is hosting its annual “Home for the Holidays” event from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Costumed interpreters — engineers, conductors, ticket agents, and railroad passengers –will recreate scenes of holiday travel from the past. Visitors will also be able to ride the Museum’s Cab Simulator.

Children will be able to send a message to Santa Claus with the help of a railroad telegrapher who will send their personal telegrams from Steinman Station to the North Pole. And, they can visit with Santa in person at the Steinman Station passenger depot.

Cookies and hot chocolate will be offered in the Museum lobby. There will be hands-on activities in the Stewart Junction railway education center for rail fans of all ages. There will also be live holiday music performed by the band Brass Ornamets from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and $8 for youth (ages 3-11).

The rail line will also present “Christmas with the Conductor” on December 10.

A costumed conductor will welcome passengers on one of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania’s historic coaches for a special reading of a holiday classic story.

Kids will be able to create a take-home craft in Jack Frost Station. And, each child will receive a small bag of goodies. Advance registration, with a $10 per child fee is required.

Like kids of all ages, Santa Claus enjoys the special experience of riding on a train that is being pulled by a steam locomotive. This year, Santa will be visiting several of the area’s tourist railroads to take special rides with his friends.

One of the best train rides with Santa Claus is the one presented by the West Chester Railroad (Market Street Station, West Chester, 610-430-2233 or www.westchesterrr.net). The special “Santa’s Express” trains (which feature heated cars decorated for the holidays) will run on December 10, 11, 17 and 18 at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. There will be additional departures at 5 p.m. on December 10, 11, 17 and 18.

The 90-minute journey on the trail line’s heated decorated train travels through the Chester Creek Valley. Santa Claus will be greeting everyone at Market Street Station and then going along for the ride to Glen Mills. Adult fare for the West Chester Railroad trips is $23. Tickets for children (ages 2-12) are $17 while toddlers (ages 9-23 months) get to ride for $7.

The Colebrookdale Railroad (www.dynamicticketsolutions.com) has several options for holiday-related excursion rides.

The “Santa Claus Polar Express Train,” the “’Twas The Night Before Christmas Train” and the “Winter Starlight Express Train.”

It is approximately a two-hour round trip for any of the train excursions. Tickets are $45 for adults, $31 for children (ages 2-12), $40 for seniors (65 and older) and $8 for toddlers (under 2; must be held; no seat).

The Wilmington & Western Railroad (2201 Newport Gap Pike, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-998-193, www.wwrr.com) will run its “Santa Claus Express” on Saturdays and Sundays between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Tickets are $18 for adults, $17 for senior citizens and $16 for children (ages 2-12).

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be riding along with passengers on the steam-powered 90-minute round trip to Ashland Station. They will be greeting everyone on board and offering chocolate treats to the youngsters. Santa will also be posing for pictures with his fans. Tickets for these trains, which run now through December 24, are $18 for adults, $17 for senior citizens and $16 for children.

The tourist rail line will also be running special “Holiday Night Express Trains,” featuring a peaceful evening ride in the railroad’s 1929 Doodlebug rail car. Tickets for these trains, which are running now through December 30, are $12 for adults, $11 for senior citizens and $10 for children.

The Strasburg Rail Road (Route 741, Strasburg, 717-687-7522, www.strasburgrailroad.com) is running its “Santa’s Paradise Express” now through December 18. Santa will be greeting passengers, shaking hands, posing for photos and giving a treat to each child. After the train ride, children are treated to storybook readings of holiday classics. Visitors of all ages can also enjoy a ride aboard the Tinsel Trolley, a self-propelled motor car.

The Strasburg Railroad will also be running its “Night Before Christmas” train on December 9, 15 and 16. A reader dressed in a Victorian nightshirt and cap will read Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem “The Night before Christmas” as the train rolls along. After the poem is read, passengers can enjoy a treat of milk and cookies.

Tickets for rides on the Strasburg Railroad are $18 for adults, $11 for children (ages 3-11) and $3 for toddlers (under age 3).

The New Hope & Ivyland Railroad (32 Bridge Street, New Hope, 215-862-2332, www.newhoperailroad.com) is operating its “North Pole Express” now through December 31. Tickets are $48.95 for adults, $46.95 for children (ages 2-11) and $14.95 for toddlers.

Passengers can ride the rails with Santa, Mrs. Claus and a group of holiday revelers. Children and adults of all ages can sip hot cocoa and enjoy cookies while Santa visits with each child and presents them with a special gift. Local musicians will be on board to play and sing Christmas carols. Additionally, children are encouraged to come dressed in the pajamas.

Christmas trains also come in a smaller variety. Model railroad displays and the Christmas holiday season have been linked together since a time before even your parents were even kids.

One of the most elaborate model train layouts in the Delaware Valley can be found at the Morris Arboretum (100 Northwestern Avenue, Chestnut Hill, 215-247-5777, www.business-services.upenn.edu/arboretum/index.html). The popular Garden Railway Display that has become a summer fixture at The Gardens at Morris Arboretum returns again for a special holiday display.

The display, which is open to the public now through December 31 in the winter garden of the Morris Arboretum, has a quarter-mile of track featuring seven loops and tunnels with 15 different rail lines and two cable cars, nine bridges (including a trestle bridge you can walk under) and bustling model trains.

The buildings and the display are all made of natural materials — bark, leaves, twigs, hollow logs, mosses, acorns, dried flowers, seeds and stones — to form a perfectly proportioned miniature landscape complete with miniature rivers. Philadelphia-area landmarks are all meticulously decorated for the holidays with lights that twinkle.

Admission to the Morris Arboretum is $17 for adults, $15 for seniors (65 and older) and $9 for students and military.

“A Brandywine Christmas” is running now through January 8 at the Brandywine River Museum (Route 1, Chadds Ford 610-388-2700, www.brandywinemuseum.org). The attraction features an extensive O-gauge model. Five moving trains operate at all times and include a 60-car freight train winding past a village, stone quarry, oil refinery, mountains, Herr Foods plant, running waterfall and animated skating

Special events include “Carols Concerts” on December 11 and 18, “Breakfast with the Trains” on December 10 and 17, “Christmas with the Dolls” on December 17, and “Terrific Trains Family Program” on January 7. Admission to the museum is $15 for adults, $10 for seniors (65 and older) and $6 for children.

The holiday attraction season is in full swing now and the line-up of on-going holiday events in the area is large enough and diverse enough to please everyone.

Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) has shifted into holiday mode with the arrival of “A Longwood Gardens Christmas.”

The festive holiday display at Longwood Gardens, which is continuing through January 8, features spectacular lights, lavish decorations, holiday music and colorful displays featuring thousands of brilliant poinsettias, brightly-decorated trees and fragrant flowers — all inside the heated Conservatory.

The colorful annual event, which appeals to the entire family, also has a lot of outdoor attractions such as fountain shows and nighttime light displays. Longwood’s Christmas celebration also includes a wide array of seasonal music — holiday concerts, organ sing-alongs and carillon performances. There will also be performances by choirs and musicians evenings through December 20.

When darkness arrives at Longwood, a night-blooming garden of more than a half-million lights strung on close to 100 trees with approximately 40 miles of wire comes to life. A carillon with 62 cast bells plays holiday music every half hour during daylight hours. Longwood’s Open Air Theatre fountains dance to holiday music each half hour — temperature permitting.

As always, admission by “Timed Ticket” — tickets issued for specific dates and times. Timed ticketing limits the number of people in the Gardens at any given time and allows guests to enjoy minimal lines and a better viewing experience. There are different prices for “Peak” and “Off Peak” times.

Visitors to “A Longwood Gardens Christmas” can also check out Longwood’s Garden Railway — a whimsical display set into motion with G-scale model trains. This is the 15th year that the railway has delighted visitors with special water features and custom trains traveling in and out of bridges and tunnels.

Admission to Longwood Gardens is $23 (non-peak), $30 (peak) for adults, $20/$27 for seniors (ages 62 and older) and $12/$16 for students (ages 5-18).

 “Christmas Village in Philadelphia” (Broad and Market streets, Philadelphia, 215-391-3017, www.philachristmas.com) is a free outdoor holiday market event that captures the vibe of the traditional European Christmas markets. Christmas Village in Philadelphia will have a new home in the City Hall Courtyard and Northern Apron. The attraction is modeled after traditional German Christmas Markets.

At the Village in Philadelphia, vendors selling traditional European food, sweets and drinks are set up in 80 wooden booths and timber houses that form a medieval village. They will also offer a unique shopping experience with international holiday gifts, ornaments, jewelry and high-quality arts and crafts.

At the center of the market, an ornate and grand old-time carousel will be operating to give children of all ages a new holiday tradition while visiting the authentic German Christmas Market. The carousel features 20 wood-carved horses that will twirl around for an unforgettable view of the new market inside City Hall’s courtyard.  

 “Holidays at Hagley,” a popular Brandywine Valley exhibit that is included with regular admission, is running now through January 1 at Hagley Museum and Library (Route 141, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-658-2400, www.hagley.org).

This year’s edition of “Holidays at Hagley” features tours of Eleutherian Mills, which is the first du Pont family home built in America. The tours, which will be presented each day from 10a.m.-4:30 p.m., feature decorations in a combination of styles from both the 19th and 20th centuries.

The theme this year at Eleutherian Mills residence is “A Child’s Delight.” Toys, games, and dolls are the decorative theme in the annual “Holidays at Hagley” exhibition at Eleutherian Mills.     

Prominently displayed in the Parlor is a large early 20th-century decorated Christmas tree with tinsel. Underneath, toys and dolls are waiting to be admired by children of all ages. Scattered throughout the room are more toys, including two charming monkey toys—a puppet and a swinging toy monkey. Also featured is a small display of child-related items, including a large wicker baby carriage, doll beds, and a stroller called an “Oriole.”

Well-loved displays returning include the elaborate Twelfth Night celebration in the dining room and the Victorian library’s Christmas for children with its table-top tree surrounded by toys and games. Of course, there will be warm glowing lights and poinsettias. Admission is $14 for adults, $10 for seniors and students and $5 for children (ages 6-14).

One of the best premier Christmas-themed events in the area is the annual “Yuletide at Winterthur.” This year’s 38th annual staging of the event, which runs from November 19 through January 8 at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library (Route 52, Wilmington, Delaware,800-448-3883, www.winterthur.org).

With the arrival of the extraordinary dollhouse recently gifted to Winterthur by the McDaniel family, Yuletide at Winterthur 2016 will highlight the holidays through a child’s eyes in the 19th and 20th centuries and feature the exquisite house-in-miniature as a central attraction. The 18-room house is fully decorated with wreaths, candles, trees, and more miniature delights.

In celebration of the house’s debut, Yuletide at Winterthur will highlight the holidays as experienced by children from 1850-1950 and feature museum room displays that include Winterthur’s own collections of miniature objects. As an added attraction, Winterthur’s current exhibition “Lasting Impressions: The Artists of Currier & Ives, Yuletide” will explore why a “Currier & Ives Christmas” is so beloved and still resonates with people today.

As always, the rooms will be enhanced with the floral displays so essential to du Pont’s decorating, and with special Christmas trees inspired by the beauty of the Winterthur garden – including the popular Dried Flower Tree in the Conservatory.

Timed Yuletide Tour reservations are required. Admission to Yuletide at Winterthur is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors (age 62 and older) and $2 for children (ages 2-11).

Nemours Mansion & Gardens (Route 141 South, Alapocas Drive, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-651-6912, www.nemoursmansion.org) is welcoming visitors for the Christmas holidays with special holiday-themed tours. The three-hour tours are held Tuesdays through Sundays and run now through January 3.

Originally constructed in 1910, Nemours Mansion is one of Delaware’s grandest buildings and includes the largest formal French garden in North America.

During the holiday period, the guided tours will include several stories of the house and part of the gardens. Many of the rooms featured in the tour will be decorated as they would have been when DuPont resided there in the early 1900s while some will retain their traditional period decorations.

Tickets for the tour at Nemours are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and $7 for children (under 16).

The Historic Odessa Foundation’s 2016 Christmas Holiday Tour will be presented now through December 31 in Odessa’s historic district (Main Street, Odessa, Delaware, 302-378-4119, www.historicodessa.org). The Historic Houses of Odessa’s National Historic Register Wilson-Warner House has been transformed into vignettes inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “The Nutcracker and The Mouse King.”

Historic Odessa will celebrate the bicentennial of this classic tale as the National Historic Register Wilson-Warner House is transformed into the home of the Stahlbaums on Christmas Eve. There will also be story vignettes beautifully recreated throughout the 247-year old Wilson-Warner’s period rooms.

Another popular attraction is the “Storybook Trees Exhibit,” which is a festive display of Christmas trees that reflect books and works of children’s literature. The trees have been decorated by local families, schools and organizations. All the Historic Odessa Foundation’s museum properties, collectively known as the Historic Houses of Odessa, are open and on display for the 2016 holiday season.

The Historic Houses of Odessa are open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 4:30 p.m. The last full tour of the Historic Houses starts at 3 p.m. The Houses will be closed on December 24 and 25. Admission to the Historic Odessa Foundation holiday tour is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and students and free for children (under 6).

Many of the local amusement parks are fun places to visit in November and December because of their special holiday attractions.

Now through January 1, “A Very Furry Christmas” will be presented by Sesame Place (100 Sesame Place, Langhorne, 215-752-7070, www.sesameplace.com). The event is a one-of-a-kind family-friendly celebration with everyone’s favorite furry friends — Grover, Oscar and the rest of the gang from Sesame Street. Admission is $27 online and $32 at the gate.

“Christmas Candylane,” which is the annual holiday event at Hersheypark (100 West Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, 800-HERSHEY, www.hersheypark.com), is running now through December 31. Tickets are $19 per person. Children age two and under are admitted free.

Visitors to Hershey can also experience the winter wonderland called “Hershey Sweet Lights, A Holiday Drive-Thru Spectacular.” The attraction is a two-mile drive through wooded trails featuring approximately 600 illuminated, animated displays.

Video link for “Hershey Sweet Lights” — https://youtu.be/fs43VXoT96A?t=3.

Admission is $24.15 on Fridays and Saturdays and $19.15 the rest of the week,

Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park (2249 Route 30 East, Lancaster, 866-386-2389, www.dutchwonderland.com) is hosting its “Dutch Winter Wonderland” from Now through December 30 on Saturdays, Sundays and select weekdays.

Visitors are invited to celebrate the magic of the season at Dutch Winter Wonderland with rides, entertainment, and the Royal Light Show, a spectacular display of thousands of twinkling lights dancing to music.

Tickets are $11.99 in advance and $13.99 at the gate. Children age two and under are admitted free.

Bethlehem, which is known as the “Christmas City,” presents Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem (PNC Plaza at SteelStacks, 645 East First Street, Bethlehem, 610-332-1300, http://www.christmascity.org) every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday now through December 18.

Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem showcases aisles of exquisite handmade works by the nation’s finest artisans. The market also features live performances of Christmas music and vendors with an amazing variety of tasty food items.

Two of Montgomery County’s scenic historic sites are ready to begin celebrating the 2014 Christmas holiday season this weekend.

Pennypacker Mills (3 Haldeman Road, Perkiomenville, 610- 287-9349, www.historicsites.montcopa.org) is hosting “Victorian Holiday Tours” now through January 8 while “Twelfth Night Tours at Pottsgrove Manor” (100 West King Street, Pottstown, 610-326-4014, www.historicsites.montcopa.org) are running now until January 8.

For the next six weeks, Pennypacker Mills will offer free tours of the 18-century mansion used by General George Washington as temporary headquarters during the Revolutionary War. The home will be decorated for an old-fashioned Victorian Christmas and will feature the warm glow of oil lamps, festive decorations and a candy-making demonstration.

The event at Pottsgrove Manor features guided tours through an elegant 18th-century Georgian mansion that is decked out in period holiday decorations. Tour guides will discuss Twelfth Night celebrations and Christmastide traditions.

Visitors will be able to view the parlor and kitchen as it would have been during colonial times when the Potts family prepared for their holiday guests. They will also be able to check out the servants’ quarters and see the rustic holiday celebrations as enjoyed by the household staff.

Visitors to Peddler’s Village (Routes 202 and 263, Lahaska, 215-794-4000, http://peddlersvillage.com) can get in the holiday spirit at the Village’s Grand Illumination, which showcases thousands of tiny white lights outlining the Village’s buildings, colorful lights with less-than-common colors (teal, peach, and fuscia) adorning the trees and shrubs and a landscaped backdrop featuring a group of reindeer glowing in white light.

The Grand Illumination is accompanied by the Giggleberry Fair, which features attractions for kids including for “Photos with Santa.” The Giggleberry Fair will be open through December 23. The Peddler’s Village “Gingerbread House Competition and Display,” which runs through January 2, features over $2,000 in cash prizes in such categories as Traditional and Authentic Reproduction of a Significant Building.

Koziar’s Christmas Village (782 Christmas Village Road, Bernville, 610-488-1110, www.koziarschristmasvillage.com) has started its 68th annual season and it will remain open every night through January 2 — including Christmas Eve, Christmas Night, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Night.

The village is a visual wonderland with a large amount of holiday displays and special attractions including “Santa’s Post Office,” “Christmas in the Jungle,” “Toy Maker and his Toy Shop” and “Christmas in Other Lands. Other attractions are a huge model train display, a toy shop, a country kitchen, indoor and outdoor Christmas displays. Admission to Christmas Village is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors (65 and older) and $8 for children (ages 4-10).

From a theatrical standpoint, the holiday season has definitely arrived in the area.

The New Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) is presenting its special holiday show “Christmas by Candlelight” now through December 23.

Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings (doors 6 p.m./show, 8 p.m.), Sunday afternoons (doors, 1 p.m./show, 3 p.m.) and Wednesday matinees (doors, 11 a.m./show, 1 p.m.). Tickets, which include dinner and show, are $59 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12).

The American Music Theatre (2425 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, 800-0 648-4102, www.AMTshows.com) has its holiday show running now through December 30.

The AMT’s 2016 show “Winter Wonderland” is an all-new presentation of favorite sacred and secular holiday songs performed by professional artists from across the country. The show will feature spectacular vocal harmonies, lively musical arrangements, impressive dancing and the music of the AMT Orchestra.

Also featured will be elaborate scenery, elegant costumes and a theater decked out with holiday decorations.

The show will have both matinee and evening performances each week with the addition of 10:30 a.m. performances on Saturdays throughout December. Show length is two hours and 15 minutes with a short intermission. Tickets are $42.

The Rainbow Comedy Playhouse (3065 Lincoln Highway East, Paradise, 800-292-4301, www.Rainbowcomedy.com) is presenting its holiday production “Green Holly & Gray Potatoes” now through December 28.

Matinee performances are every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and selected Saturdays with an 11:30 a.m. lunch and a 1 p.m. curtain. Evening performances are every Friday, Saturday and selected Thursdays with dinner at 6:30 p.m. and the show following at 8 p.m. There will also be “Twilight Performances” on selected Sundays with dinner at 2:30 p.m. and the show at 4 p.m. Ticket prices range from $25-$56.

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