What To Do (Local): Dozens of local holiday events in Chesco/Delco this weekend

Editor’s Note: Due to the larger number of holiday events, we’ve broken our listings into two entries: this one for the local Chester and Delaware County and a second for events around the greater Philadelphia region.

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times 

Downingtown Good Neighbor Christmas

You could attend two different holiday events in Chester County every day from now until Christmas Day and still have more available. Celebrations of all kinds are everywhere – fun holiday celebrations with something for everyone in the family.

Downingtown Good Neighbor Christmas (dtownchristmas.com) features a 20-foot artificial lighted Giant Everest Christmas Tree with a three-foot lighted star on top.

The tree, which is professionally decorated, sits next to the Log House on Lancaster Avenue and at the entrance to Kerr Park.

The annual Downingtown Christmas Parade will be held on December 9 at 3 p.m. The parade will feature marching bands, floats, walking and marching groups, and the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus to end the parade.

The Downingtown Good Neighbor Christmas Parade follows a 1.7-mile route along Lancaster Avenue, through the heart of the Borough of Downingtown. Traveling west to east between Beaver Creek Elementary School and East Ward Elementary School, this is a true “hometown” Christmas parade.

“Christmas in Coatesville” festivities continue this weekend with the Fifth Annual Pavilion of Trees and City of Coatesville Tree Lighting ceremony at Gateway Park (22 Lincoln Highway, Coatesville, ChristmasInCoatesville.com) on December 9, from 4:30-7:30p.m. with the tree lighting slated for 6:30 p.m.

Guests are invited to attend the free, family-friendly event where they can stroll through Gateway Park, which each year, magically transforms into a winter wonderland amidst twinkling lights and dozens of community-sponsored Christmas trees.

Entertainment for the entire family includes live holiday music, food trucks, hot chocolate, a kids’ station, and a visit from Santa Claus. New this year, the Pavilion will feature a Pop-Up Market to shop for stocking stuffers and gifts from local vendors.

The Pavilion of Trees is presented by Elite Therapy Solutions in the name of community spirit and goodwill. Each tree will express the creativity and imagination of a business, organization or individual sponsor that will decorate the tree and take part in a friendly competition.

A new “Christmas in Coatesville” event is the Made in Coatesville Holiday Market, which features local merchants, light refreshments, kids’ activities and more. Shoppers are welcome December 8, 9, 15 and 16 at 228 East Lincoln Highway. The Market will be open on Fridays from 4-8 p.m. and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Coatesville will be the site of a special Christmas event on December 8 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.

Visitors will also be able to check out the National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum’s exhibits.

Santa Claus doesn’t always travel by sleigh and arrive on the scene by coming down chimney. He also travels on railroads and there are even times he arrives from the sky.

West Chester sparkles when the Christmas season arrives.

Transformed into a winter wonderland, the streets of historic West Chester are bathed in the glow of thousands of holiday lights every evening in December. Each weekend features holiday festivities, shopping and dining.

“Christkindlmarkt 2023” will be held December 9 and 10 from 1-8 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday.

More than 90 vendors will set up outdoors to offer individually handcrafted and locally designed products such as art, ceramics, jewelry, homeware and more. Gay Street will be shut down between Darlington and Matlack streets.

The event is hosted by the Chester County Art Association and Downtown West Chester.

There will be free “Photos with Santa” and free hot chocolate from 2-4 p.m. on December 9 at the M&T Bank in West Chester

On Saturdays from 2-3 p.m., the “Making Spirits Bright Holiday Music Series” will feature local choirs and performances singing favorite holidays songs every Saturday on the steps of the historic courthouse on High Street. The schedule features West Chester Music Academy on December 9 and Bishop Shanahan Liturgical Choir on December 16.

Dressed in Victorian attire, The West Chester Borough Balladeer Carolers will roam around downtown West Chester and perform throughout the holiday season.

Performance dates are December 8, 9, 15 and 16.

Santa in West Chester

On December 16, it will be time for “Santa on The Fire Truck.”  Santa will be escorted through the streets of downtown West Chester by the First West Chester Fire Company.

“Chanukah at the Courthouse” will be celebrated on December 10 with a public menorah lighting at the historic Chester County Courthouse with music, donuts, latkes, hot drinks, crafts and a fire truck gelt drop.

The event us being presented by Chabad of Chester County & Western Main Line.

There will also be a “Professional Gingerbread House Competition” now through January 2 and a “Holiday Window Decorating Contest” with voting ending on December 9.

The Chester County Library (460 Exton Square Parkway, Exton, www.chescolibraries.org) will be hosting its 12th annual Holiday Craft Show on December 9 from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

Vendors will be set up throughout the library to display and sell their crafts just in time for the holidays.

There will be more than 45 vendor tables featuring personalized ornaments, jewelry, pottery, woodworking, knit and fabric crafts, bath and body products, home décor, baked goods, and more.

The Craft Show will feature free admission.

The Brandywine River Museum of Art Route 1, Chadds Ford 610-388-2700, www.brandywinemuseum.org) is celebrating the 51st anniversary of the Brandywine Railroad holiday train display now through January 8.

A holiday favorite since 1972, the Brandywine Railroad features trains running on 2,000 feet of track and contains more than 1,000 pieces, including locomotives, passenger and freight trains, and trolleys that pass through a small village, a farm, factories, a drive-in movie theater and even a carnival.

A dazzling array of both toy and scale model trains can be seen chugging through the varied scenery, including those made by Lionel, Williams, Atlas, Mike’s Train House, K-line and others. Interactive components are also incorporated into the display to allow for further engagement.

The Brandywine Railroad holiday train display is included in the cost of general admission.

The fabulous holiday light display “West Chester Griswolds” (304 Dutton Mill Rd, West Chester, www.westchestergriswolds.com) opened on Thanksgiving night and is running through January 2.

This year’s display features more than 135,000 lights and 800 smart pixels.

Also featured is a Cosmic Color Ribbon Tree (CCR) to our display. It is an exciting piece of technology with the ability to create any color of the rainbow. The exhibit will be playing throughout the night and “singing” with the bulbs.

Lights will be on now through January 2 — Monday through Thursday from 4:45-9:45 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 4:45-10:15 p.m.

On December 2, the West Chester Public Library (https://www.wcpubliclibrary.org/holidaydoortour) will held its annual 11th Annual Holiday Home Tour, which was a one-day event.

This holiday season, the library also is presenting a Holiday Door Tour.

Created as a socially distanced replacement for the Holiday Home Tour during the pandemic shutdown of 2020, the family-friendly Holiday Door Tour was so popular the library now offers it in addition to the Home Tour.

Running from December 2-17, this self-guided tour will feature dozens of West Chester doors and porches decorated by their owners in holiday finery. It can be enjoyed at any time of day and by a group of your choice.

This tour does not include entry into homes and is entirely outdoors, self-guided, and at a time of your convenience.

The 2023 Kennett Square Holiday Village Market will be held at The Creamery of Kennett Square (401 Birch Street, Kennett Square) on December 9 and 10 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. each day.

Visitors will be able to shop from 80 artisan and vintage vendors at the market. In addition to finding gifts for the holiday, they also can make a Christmas tree purchase from fresh tree vendors at the market. And they can quench their thirst with mulled wine and hot cider as well as enjoy food from three participating food trucks.

Other special activities include an ice sculptor, photos with Santa on both days, face painting, balloon twisting, wreath-making workshops and live music.

On December 9, Santa Claus will drop in using a totally different method when he visits the American Helicopter Museum and Education Center (1220 American Blvd., West Chester, 610-436-9600, www.helicoptermuseum.org) for “Santafest.” Children will be able to stand outside and watch with amazement when Santa arrives in a helicopter.

Activities get underway at 10 a.m. 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 Santa and telling him what items are on their holiday wish list.

Refreshments will be provided, along with crafts for the kids, holiday movies and special four-legged visitors from Paws for People.

PAWS for People™ (Pet-Assisted Visitation Volunteer Services, or PAWS) is a nonprofit organization committed to providing therapeutic visits to any person in the community who would benefit from interaction with a well-trained, loving pet.

The AHMEC facility is also a drop-off site for Toys for Tots.

Admission is $15 per person (13 and older) and free for kids (12 and under).

On December 9, the Mill at Anselma (1730 Conestoga Road, Chester Springs, 610-827-1906, www.anselmamill.org) will present “Santa at the Mill.”

The big guy in the red suit will be on site from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. to welcome kids of all ages and hear what their holiday wishes are.

The event will also feature a mill grinding demonstration. 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 with Chester Springs Library.

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

On December 9, Historic Sugartown (609 Sugartown Road, Malvern, 610-640-2667, www.historicsugartown.org) will host “Holiday Craft Market.” The event, which runs from noon- 4 p.m., will feature local crafters and artisans.

Some of this year’s participants are Chester County Canines, Lil Bea Crochet, WoodWorksKS, Char’s Cheesecake, Chester County Beekeeper’s Association, Heavenly Sweets Chocolate, Keyco, Maisie Declan & Co, Krochet by Kristen, Allen Paca Knitwear, Lotus J Crystal Boutique and Busy Bees Homegoods.

Locust Lane Craft Brewery and Chaddsford Winery will operate a Biergarten where visitors can purchase beverages as gifts or to enjoy while shopping.

Guests can stop by food trucks and the site’s hot cocoa bar to warm up.

As an added attraction, Santa will be on-hand to greet shoppers.

Admission is $10 with children (17 and under) admitted free.

The Historic Waynesborough Holiday Open House (2049 Waynesborough Road, Paoli, https://historicwaynesborough.org/) is scheduled for December 10 from 4-6 p.m.

The Battle of Paoli took place steps away from the front door, and yet the home survived unscathed.

There will be family-friendly crafts in the Carriage House where visitors can create Victorian holiday cards, pomanders, and paper German gingerbread hearts.

Guests can take candlelight tours with guides sharing holiday traditions during General Anthony Wayne’s era and enjoy refreshments and holiday shopping in the Gift Shop.

Participants are encouraged to dress in their favorite holiday outfits and take photos in front of historic backgrounds here at Historic Waynesborough.

Ticket prices are Children, $5; Adults, $10; groups up to four people, $25.

On December 9, Trinity Presbyterian Church (640 Berwyn Avenue, Berwyn, www.trinityberwyn.com) is getting into the Christmas spirit by presenting a talent-filled concert that features four singer/songwriters along with free admission (free-will offering is suggested).

The church’s “Spotlight Concert Series Presents Sons, Stories and Sleighbells” will showcase four musicians including local legend Craig Bickhardt and national act singer/songwriter Jesse Terry. The lineup also features Halley Neal and Sam Robbins.

Bickhardt, whose songs have been recorded by Johnny Cash, Martina McBride, and Ray Charles, co-wrote (with Thom Schuyler) and produced the classic Christmas album, “Precious Child.”

Narrated by Guy Clark, it features guest performances by Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, Janis Ian, Michael Johnson, Dan Seals, Ashley Cleveland and a host of others.

Terry, who in recent years has built a huge following across America and in Europe, has always loved Christmas music. His Christmas album “Peace” was made even more special by becoming a family affair. Jesse’s father Michael Terry, a longtime professional musician/producer, was brought on as co-producer and handled the vocal arrangements.

Terry is a Grand Prize winner of The John Lennon Songwriting Contest and the CMT/NSAI Song Contest. He plays over 125 shows a year, from Bonnaroo to the Philadelphia Folk Festival, and the 30A Songwriters Festival to AmericanaFest.

Neal is a folk singer and songwriter based in Nashville. Her sound combines inspirations of classic folk music and modern-day singer/songwriters and her live shows center on themes of positivity and peace.

Robbins is a Nashville based musician whose music evokes classic 70’s singer/songwriters with a modern upbeat edge to the storyteller troubadour persona.

Neal and Robbins just released a collaborative Christmas album entitled “You and Me on Christmas Eve.” The album was recorded at Skinny Elephant Recording in Nashville with Grammy-nominated producer Dylan Alldredge.

The doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the concert will begin at 7 p.m. A free-will offering is suggested.

The 2023 Winter Luminary Nights at Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens will be held December 8 and 9 at Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens (631 Berwyn Baptist Road, Devon, www.jenkinsarboretum.org).

Visitors will be able to bask in the glow of luminaries and lit-up trees at Devon’s Jenkins Arboretum.

Guests can bundle up for a walk down to the pond while enjoying luminary lanterns, then enjoy delicious bites and brews outside the John J. Willaman Education Center.

The Arboretum’s giant wreath will also be on display creating the perfect backdrop for a holiday photo.

Ticket prices start at $25 a car.

The holiday season at Herr’s Snack Food Factory (20 Herr Drive, Nottingham, 610-932-9330, www.herrs.com) has arrived. The area around the factory site will be illuminated with thousands of lights and holiday displays.

Herr’s “Holiday Light Display,” which is free and open to the public, will be open nightly now through January 2.

Visitors to the site will be able to drive along a trail that is illuminated with more than 600,000 lights.

The special light exhibit will be open daily from dusk to dawn.

“Yuletide at Devon” (Devon Horse Show, 23 Dorset Road, Devon, www.yuletidedevon.com) is running now through December 31.

The special holiday event features a European Christmas market, a gourmet farm-to-table dining experience, a series of live music concerts and a community carnival.

There is a giant 65-foot Ferris Wheel that provides the opportunity for aerial views of the twinkling lights – and there are unlimited free rides. The list of featured attractions also includes a fun house, an exciting Himalayan rides and opportunities for Santa photos.

Renowned Chef Chris Nguyen of the Philadelphia catering group Strothers will be providing farm-to-table food offerings. The craft drinks menu features fresh pour coffee, signature holiday drinks, gourmet hot chocolate, and homemade Gluhwein.

More than 35 high-end market shops will also be open five days a week, offering a wide array of unique gifts and keepsakes. Whether you’re looking for a special present for a loved one or a memento for yourself, you’re sure to find something special at these shops.

“Yuletide at Devon” occurs weekly from Wednesday through Sunday, promising endless opportunities for fun, food, and frolic.

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 running now through January 7, 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.

This holiday season, experience a radiance of retro, a bevy of bright, and numerous nostalgic moments with us. Marvel at playful trees draped in throwback baubles to shimmering tinsel to childhood-favorite toys. Stroll through a fab, festive holiday party scene decked out in mid-century magic. Reminisce amid a vintage Christmas street scene, make new merry memories amid dazzling, vibrant light displays—including some super-sized surprises—and revel in the retro fun at every turn.

There will be towering trees adorned in amber to fiery red tones, flickering flame lanterns, and an inviting mountain retreat, complemented by icy-hued plantings, a “frozen” succulent fountain, and a refreshing alpine waterway that is the ultimate winter wonderland.

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.

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.

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 18th 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 $30 for adults, $27 for seniors (ages 62 and older) and college students, $23 for active and retired military and $16 for youth (ages 5-18).

Chaddsford Winery (Route 1, Chadds Ford, 610-388-6221, www.chaddsford.com) is presenting “Reserve Tastings – Festive Faves” on select Saturdays and Sundays in December.

Guests will join the CFW Crew for an intimate and educational 60-minute experience in the Barrel Room. The trained staff will guide them through a pre-selected tasting of five widely diverse and award-winning wines from across our portfolio. The selections will be paired alongside seasonal local cheeses and other accoutrements to enhance your tasting experience.

The staff will also discuss topics such as grape growing conditions at our partner vineyards and the onsite winemaking process from production to aging and bottling.

The following is the 2023 Pairing Line Up – Greeting Wine: 2022 Sparkling White; 2022 Chardonnay with Maine Crisp Buckwheat Crackers (contains nuts), Brie, and Local Smoked Fall Honey; 2021 Pinot Noir with Smoked Gouda and New Jersey Dried Cherries; Spiced Apple with Pumpkin Spice Bon Bon from Éclat Chocolate; and Warm Holiday Spirit with Chocolate Cranberry Scone from OsoSweet Bakery & Café.

There is also a plethora of attractive family holiday activities just over the state line in northern Delaware.

One of the best holiday events in the area is the annual “Yuletide at Winterthur.” This year’s 40th annual staging of the event, which runs through January 7 at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library (Route 52, Wilmington, Delaware, www.winterthur.org).

Visitors can revel in the beauty and warmth of the holidays and explore treasures of Christmases past with displays of holiday traditions from the 1800s to the early 20th century, including displays of: the earliest types of colorful lights decorating house exteriors; the du Pont family holiday celebrations; and the evolution of Christmas trees over the decades from the 1880s to 1960s.

This year’s Yuletide Tour features custom fashion by local designers Shawn Pinckney and Asata Maisé Beeks, whose creations reflect the history of Winterthur and the design sensibilities of Henry Francis du Pont and Ann Lowe. The house will be decorated in all its finery with our signature traditions, including the show-stopping Dried-Flower Tree, plus artistic Christmas trees inspired by Ann Lowe gowns.

New this year is a large-scale gingerbread version of Enchanted Woods, made by Bredenbeck’s Bakery of Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. Visitors will also enjoy an outdoor light display, including a 15-foot decorated Christmas tree. The miniature doll house and other holiday favorites will also return.
One of visitors’ favorites every year is the 18-room dollhouse mansion created by designer and philanthropist Nancy McDaniel over a period of 30 ears. It features amazing intricate details in each room and is even decorated for the holidays.

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 Winterthur’s gardens — including the popular Dried Flower Tree in the Conservatory.

Returning this year is a toy train display, featuring Standard Gauge toy trains. The display is presented by the Standard Gauge Module Association, whose members will construct the display at Winterthur. The display is open from 10:00 am–4:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, and Wednesday evenings in December, 5:00–8:00 pm.

Special holiday programs throughout the season include “Wonderful Wednesdays” in December, evening events featuring live jazz performances, caroling, and workshops. In addition to the Wednesday evening festivities, visitors can enjoy a live one-man performance of “A Christmas Carol” by Gerald Charles Dickens, the great-great-grandson of Charles Dickens, wine and cocktail tastings, and family events with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus.

Timed Yuletide Tour reservations are required.

There will be a special “Candlelight Concert” at Winterthur on December 9 from 6-7 p.m. Surrounded by hundreds of candles, OperaDelaware will perform seasonal classics such as “Oh Holy Night” and “White Christmas,” as well as popular standards such as “Strangers in the Night” and “Some Enchanted Evening.”

It will be an evening of ambience by candlelight, featuring angelic music by People-to-People International musicians Olivia Geiser and Noëlle Grüebler of Winterthur, Switzerland.

The Winterthur estate, now known as Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, was named by Swiss-born Jacques-Antoine Bidermann, husband of Evelina Gabrielle du Pont, to honor his ancestral home.

Grüebler and Geiser dedicated their project, Winterthur and Music, to various composers linked to Winterthur, Switzerland, providing insight into the vibrant musical scene of this town on the outskirts of Zurich. Join us for a Yuletide evening as we bring the two Winterthurs together through music.

Tickets are $15.

Admission to Winterthur is $22 for adults, $20 for seniors and students and $8 for children.

Nemours Estate (850 Alapocas Drive, Wilmington, Delaware, www.nemoursestate.org), which is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., has finished its holiday preparation and is presenting “Noël at Nemours” now through December 30.

Ever since 1910, when Mr. and Mrs. duPont began living in their newly built mansion, the holiday season has been a festive time at Nemours. The Christmas decorations at the Nemours Mansion are often inspired by the architecture of the home, the customs of the duPonts or the French influence.

The Mansion is also decorated by some of the duPonts’ original decorations, including a German crèche, which dates from the late 19th century. The figures are soft ceramic, unglazed and hand colored.

Visitors can enjoy Christmas trees, wreaths, and hundreds of feet of garland on grand display in the Visitor Center, Chauffer’s Garage, Mansion and grounds.

All three floors of the Mansion will be decorated as well as the Chauffeur’s Garage and select areas of the gardens. Decorations will coincide with the story of the Estate along with a festive Versailles-inspired motif.

Live music performances will be held in the Mansion throughout the season.

Nemours Estate features an exquisite, 77-room Mansion, the largest formal French gardens in North America, a Chauffeur’s Garage housing a collection of vintage automobiles, and 200 acres of scenic woodlands, meadows and lawns.

Nemours was the estate of Alfred I. duPont.

Alfred named the estate Nemours, after the French town that his great-great-grandfather represented in the French Estates General. While looking to the past and his ancestors for inspiration, Alfred also ensured that his new home was thoroughly modern by incorporating the latest technology and many of his own inventions.

Admission to Nemours is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $10 for children.

The annual staging of “Holidays at Hagley” is an event that is always one of the most eagerly anticipated holiday attractions in this area every year.

The popular Brandywine Valley exhibit, which 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).

“Holidays at Hagley” returns with the theme, “Treasures and Traditions,” and will feature Holiday Home and Garden Tours, the sixth-annual Gingerbread House Contest, Santa Day, Holiday Nights Tours, and more.

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.

During the Victorian years when candle-lit tabletop Christmas trees were the norm, hand-made gifts were attached to tree branches, and winter scenes were displayed underneath the tree. The upstairs Victorian Library shows how magical that looked with its mid- to late-nineteenth-century toys, games and dolls. The upstairs Parlor features a case filled with small ceramic animals well-loved by some of the du Pont family children.

Early du Pont family French holiday traditions are remembered with a display of gifts that were given to E. I. du Pont’s children on New Year’s Day as well as the Twelfth Night party illustrated by the ornate French dessert service in the Dining Room.

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 $20 for adults, $16 for seniors and students and $10 for children (ages 6-14).

On December 8, 9, 15 and16, Rockwood Park (4651 Washington Street Extension, Wilmington, Delaware, www.nccde.org/431/Rockwood-Park-Museum) is hosting its annual “Winter Nights at Rockwood.”

The popular family event, which runs from 5-8 p.m. each night includes tours of the holiday display in the museum and a joyous light display in the gardens surrounding the Mansion and Carriage House.

Holiday Open House features exceptional entertainment, fun festive crafts, costumed characters, refreshments, food trucks and free photos with Santa.

The event also includes the Holiday Shoppe selling gifts for the whole family.

This is a free event.

The Historic Odessa Foundation’s 2023 Christmas Holiday Tour is a bicentennial event.

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the enduring Christmas poem “Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas,” the Historic Odessa Foundation is making it the centerpiece of its 2023 Holiday Exhibit and Tours, which is running now through December 31 in the foundation’s 249-year-old National Historic Landmark Corbit-Sharp House.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of Historic Odessa’s unique holiday tradition of celebrating classic literature through festive scenes and interpretive vignettes throughout one of the foundations historic homes.

“Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas,” or commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas” and “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” was written by Clement Clark Moore, and first published anonymously in December 1823. Historic Odessa’s holiday tradition began with the iconic poem in 1988. This year’s exhibit will feature vintage Christmas decorations on loan from members of The Golden Glow of Christmas Past organization.

All of Historic Odessa’s museum properties will be adorned with thousands of lights, and on full festive display for the 2023 holiday season.

Special school and public tours and events will celebrate “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” and its accompanying exhibit in the Corbit-Sharp House, including the Storybook Trees exhibit created by community members, Storybook Time for children, a Colonial Dance with the Dover English Country Dancers, as well as regularly scheduled Candlelight Tours and Festive Food demonstrations.

On December 1, Historic Odessa will host a presentation and book signing by Pamela McCool author of “Twas The Night: The Art and History of the Classic Christmas Poem” (2023) which traces the evolution of the holiday, presents how the historic figure of Saint Nicholas evolves into the central character in the story, and how characteristics of today’s Santa Claus originated with Clement Clark Moore.

McCool uses dozens of vintage illustrations from the thousands of editions published over the last 200 years in her lively and informative presentation. As a bonus to the evening’s presentation, McCool will be introduced by the enthusiastic Benjamin Bradley, known as “Mr. Christmas,” from the Netflix original series “Holiday Home Makeover.”

Historic Odessa is a member of the North American Reciprocal Museum Association (NARM), and is open to the public March through December, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday 1 to 4:30 p.m. Monday by reservation. General Admission: Adults, $10; Groups, Seniors, Students, $8; and Children under six are free. Member discounts are available.

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

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 (606 Church Street, Wilmington Delaware, 302- 652-5629, www.oldswedes.org), the Sankta Lucia Celebration is scheduled for December 10.

Sankta 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.

Gloria Dei Old Swedes’ Church in Delaware will present its traditional celebration of the Feast Day of Sankta Lucia on Sunday at 1 and 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-3:30 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students (ages 6-17) and free for children (5 and under).

At Gloria Dei Old Swedes’ Church (Delaware Avenue and Christian Street, Philadelphia, 215- 389-1513, www.Old-Swedes.org), the 2022 Lucia Fest will be held on December 9 and 10.

Lucia Fest is a colorful, musical pageant, featuring singers, a procession of children, and live candles, representative of St. Lucia, the bearer of light during the dark Swedish winters. It is a unique opportunity to witness this authentic holiday tradition, performed in a 300-year-old church built by Swedish settlers.

A Scandinavian Christmas bazaar – St. Eric’s Fair – will be open before and after each showtime, with imported goods available for purchase.

The Lucia processions will be held at 2, 3:30 and 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

Admission is $13 for adults and $7 for children (under 12).

Surprisingly (and refreshingly for some), there are some special events this weekend that are not Christmas-related.

Tyler Arboretum (515 Painter Road, Media, 610-566-9134, www.tylerarboretum.org) will present a “Celebration of Trees” on December 9 at 10 a.m.

Tyler’s website posted this – “Which Tyler tree supports over 500 species of moths and butterflies? What is a Pennsylvania Champion Tree, and why does Tyler grow so many of them? It’s because we’ve been doing this for a very long time!

Some of our iconic trees were planted in the 1850s and still tower over visitors in the landscape. Join Tyler docent and Pennsylvania Master Naturalist Dave Charlton on this leisurely paced walk to experience their majesty, learn about their role in supporting the ecosystem, and hear the tales.

Tickets are $21 per adult; $13 per child ages 3-17; no charge for children ages two and under.

The arboretum’s schedule for this weekend also features a “Saturday Wildflower Walk” on December 9.

With 650 protected acres of beautiful woodland, seasonally charming meadows, and a lively program of seasonal events and activities, Tyler Arboretum is a delight for nature lovers, birders, botanists, and those who want rediscover the natural world.

Dating to 1681, making it one of the oldest public gardens in the United States, and home to eight generations of three families, Tyler Arboretum connects visitors to the region’s rich culture and history while preserving, developing, sharing, and celebrating Pennsylvania’s priceless horticultural heritage.

“Saturday Wildflower Walk,” which runs from 1-3 p.m., features wildflower expert Dick Cloud on an informative two-hour hike that will take guests through meadows, woods, and occasionally streamside. These walks are for those who have a love of plants, their role in ecology, or for those who want to learn more.

Although the focus is on plants, Cloud will also talk about whatever else is seen on the tour. Walkers should wear comfortable hiking shoes and bring a camera and/or a wildflower guide, for this botanical-filled walk.

Admission to Tyler Arboretum is $18 for adults and $10 for children (ages 12-17).

On December 9, the Parade of Spirits (Pennsylvania Dutch: der Geischderschtrutz) will take place at Liberty Lands Park (Third and Widely streets, Philadelphia).

Der Geischderschtrutz (215) 499-1323) is a grassroots, family-friendly event that recognizes the need for darkness in the days leading up to Yule.

The event began in 2011 as Krampuslauf Philadelphia, and over the course of the last decade, it has expanded to include other aspects of Germanic lore and to embrace similar lore from cultures around the world.

This is a participatory event, so those in attendance should be in some form of costume. The costumes may be as simple as ghoulish makeup on the face to represent a collected soul, or it may be as dramatic as a full-on Krampus costume. This is an observance of the shadow side of the self, of the murky times in shortest days of the year, and of shady entities and liminal deities.

The terms Parade of Spirits and Geischderschtrutz refer to the Wild Hunt, which, from the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition, is the movement of the goddess Holle throughout the multiverse, collecting the lost souls of the recently departed and placing them back into the cycle of life, death, and rebirth so as to advance human evolution with each lifetime.

Other cultures have similar lore, often with a different deity at the helm. Often there are horrific, treacherous, or disciplinary creatures within the retinue of these deities, and all such beings are appropriate to depict at the event.

Although this event features many old Germanic and Germanic Heathen aspects, it is a secular event that is open to all.

Gathering time on December 9 is 3:30 p.m.

“TreeTrails Adventures Trevose” (301 West Bristol Pike, Trevose, treetrails.com/trevose-pa) is an adventure park full of fun challenges for outdoor adventurers of all ages.

Participants can experience the rush of TreeTrails Adventures as they swing through the trees of the new adventure park. They will be able to discover the excitement of climbing and zip lining above the forest floor with family, friends, co-workers, or teammates.

The park, which is based at Phoenix Sport Club in Bucks County, offers two ways to experience climbing – TreeTrails Adventure Park and KidTrails Park. Young explorers can enjoy miniaturized courses in the adjacent KidTrails Park.

General Park Admission prices are: Main Park Adult Tickets (Ages 12+), $59; Main Park Youth Tickets (Ages 7–11), $51; KidTrails Tickets (Ages 4–7), $12.

Wonderspaces at the Fashion District (27 North 11th Street, Philadelphia, philadelphia.wonderspaces.com) is an experiential, interactive arts venue.

Building on the success of annual pop-up shows in San Diego, and its first permanent location in Scottsdale, Arizona, Wonderspaces opened a 24,000 square foot gallery space in Philly two years ago.

Wonderspaces features 14 art installations that all play with the idea of perspective.  The artwork ranges from award-winning virtual reality short film about a dinner party-turned-alien abduction, to a room where visitors digitally paint the walls with the movement of their bodies.

New artworks rotate in and out every few months, creating an ever-evolving, year-round show.

Tickets are for entry at a specific date and time. Visitors are welcome to stay as long as they please during operating hours. The average time spent experiencing the show is 90 minutes.

A few installations contain flashing lights, images, and patterns that may trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy. All visitors must sign a waiver prior to being admitted into the space. Adult supervision is required for visitors under 16.

Grim Philly’s “Dark Philly History Tour” (www.grimphilly.com) will be held every evening throughout the fall.

Participants can walk with tour guides from the grounds of America’s first White House, Congress, and Liberty Bell to homes and sites of Hamilton, Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and more than 10 other Founding-Fathers. The surprising dirt of espionage, murder, sexual license and blackmail highlight the secrets of 1776 with a ghost story or two along the way. This tour is highly researched. And your guide is a historian.

Tickets are $35.

Ghost Tour of Philadelphia (215-413-1997, www.ghosttour.com), Ghost Tour of Lancaster (717-687-6687, www.ghosttour.com) and Ghost Tour of Strasburg (717-687-6687, www.ghosttour.com) operate throughout the winter and offer an eerily entertaining evening of true ghost stories and real haunted houses.

The Ghost Tour of Philadelphia, which is based on the book, “Ghost Stories of Philadelphia, PA.,” is a candlelight walking tour along the back streets and secret gardens of Independence Park, Society Hill, and Old City, where ghostly spirits, haunted houses, and eerie graveyards abound.

Participants can discover the ghost lore of America’s most historic and most haunted city with stories from the founding of William Penn’s colony to present-day hauntings.

The activity is open year-round – weekends, December-February; every night, March-November. Tickets are $24.

The Ghost Tour of Lancaster and the Ghost Tour of Strasburg are based on the book, “Ghost Stories of Lancaster, PA.”

Participants in the Ghost Tour of Lancaster explore the long-forgotten mysteries of one of America’s oldest cities, with haunting tales of otherworldly vigils, fatal curses, and star-crossed lovers. The tour provides the opportunity to experience 300 years of haunted history from the Red Rose City’s thorny past. Tickets are $20.

The Ghost Tour of Strasburg is a candlelight walking tour of the quaint and historic town of Strasburg in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Visitors will experience an entertaining evening with a costumed tour guide spinning tales of haunted mansions, eerie graveyards, and spirits that roam the night … in a town lost in time. Tickets are $20.

On December 9, Laurel Hill Cemetery (3822 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-228-8200, www.thelaurelhillcemetery.org) will present “Hot Spots and Storied Plots” walking tour at 10 a.m.

In life and in death, we all have stories to tell, and what better place to hear tales of wonder than Philadelphia’s most famous home of the dead?

This tour provides an informative overview of Laurel Hill’s long history, which includes many of the marble masterpieces, stunning views, and legendary stories about Laurel Hill.

“Hot Spots and Storied Plots” is the perfect introduction for anyone who enjoys beautiful art, scenic nature, and fascinating history. An experienced graveyard guide will offer a unique perspective.

The Tour Guide will be Mike Lewandowski.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for seniors and $7.50 for youth (ages 6-12).

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