Kick off the holiday season with a getaway to Chateau Country. Enjoy long walks through gorgeous gardens and historic homes brilliantly decked out with festive lights and decorations. Revisit your childhood and make memories with your own children with activities that inspire the yuletide spirit.
No matter how you choose to kick off the season, an escape to Greater Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley is sure to inspire hope, wonder and joy . . . all the things that make this the most wonderful time of the year. Here are some of the spectacular holiday happenings going on in our area:
Holidays at Hagley Museum
Beginning November 26, this historic du Pont estate and grounds will be decked out for the holidays. There are also lots of special yuletide activities the entire family will enjoy. This year, back by popular demand, is the fourth annual Gingerbread House Contest. The theme this year is Home for the Holidays: A Celebration of Family. Enter your own creation (there is no fee to enter) or check out the sweet creations of others on display this year, in the Hagley Barn.
Tour Eleutherian Mills and step into the world of entertaining in the 1920s and 1930s. The decorations and displays in the Residence will capture the time-honored holiday traditions of the du Pont family, while also introducing new, previously untold stories about the last occupants of the estate, Louise and Frank Crowninshield and their staff. There’s also a special visit planned by Santa and Mrs. Claus!
Check www.hagley.org for dates, times and specific details on each holiday happening.
During Holidays at Hagley, free admission to Hagley Museum is available for those who have been working to keep the community healthy and safe.
Yuletide at Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library
Celebrate the season with a one-of-a-kind holiday experience. The Yuletide tour at Winterthur showcases rooms in Henry Francis du Pont’s former home decorated in full holiday splendor, including specialty decorated trees that celebrate the garden, and du Pont family traditions. The displays are inspired by the traditions and festivities of the season as enjoyed by H. F. du Pont and his family. Open from November 20, 2021 to January 2, 2022.
Also, during Yuletide you’ll find special holiday programs including "Wonderful Wednesdays” in December and a live one-man performance of A Christmas Carol by Gerald Charles Dickens, the great-great-grandson of Charles Dickens. And, don’t forget wine and cocktail tastings, as well as family events with Santa and Mrs. Claus!
For more details on these holiday events and more, visit www.winterthur.org. Reservations for all events are required as capacity is limited.
A Longwood Gardens Christmas
One of America’s most lauded holidays light displays is A Longwood Christmas! The magic starts November 19 and runs through January 9, 2022. It features more than half a million lights, with Longwood’s towering trees wrapped from top to bottom in dazzling, brilliant colors. The dancing lights that mimic the fountain jets in the majestic Main Fountain Garden are a sight to be seen. Other must-sees include artistry in the form of floral trees and wreaths, and the 100-foot tunnel of light that pulses with changing colors.
There is so much holiday cheer to take in here. Be sure to plan several hours for your Longwood adventure. If it happens to be on the chilly side when you visit, no worries! Take a break and warm yourself at one of Longwood’s fire pits. Inside the heated conservatory, you’ll find bedazzled holiday trees and a carnival of color from lovely flowers of the season including poinsettias of all shades, kalanchoe and paper whites. To make a reservation and for more details, visit www.longwoodgardens.org.
Holidays at Nemours Estate
Beautiful throughout the year, Nemours Estate is breathtaking during the holiday season. Open November 16 to December 30, 2021, the 77-room mansion, modeled after Marie Antoinette’s Le Petit Trianon, is dressed to the nines. The homes’ décor with elaborate table settings, spectacular floral displays, and an array of beautiful Christmas trees, garlands, and wreaths truly brings a nostalgic spirit to the season. Many of the family’s original ornaments and decorations are evident including a German crèche complete with soft ceramic, unglazed, and hand-colored figures dating to the late 19th century.
To book your visit and to learn more about the holiday events coming to Nemours Estate, check out their website http://nemoursestate.org/.
Holidays on the Wilmington and Western Railroad
Board this historic and scenic train for a visit with the Big Guy (Santa) himself. Jolly Old St. Nick will greet you as you board the train and give every child a chocolate treat to sweeten the ride. There’s also the opportunity for selfies with Santa so be sure to bring your camera or Smartphone. Adults will love the winter scenery as the train takes its 1 ½ - hour round-trip journey through the beautiful Red Clay Valley.
When Santa isn’t around, the train runs the Holiday Lights Express, a 1-hour evening trip through the Red Clay Valley. Experience the magic of riding aboard the festively decorated, 100-year-old heated coaches, each of which will be covered in thousands of holiday lights! Many of the trackside neighbors also decorate their homes and yards for passengers to enjoy.
Be sure to dress warmly. Though the train is heated, doors and windows will be open as part of COVID-19 safety precautions. For dates, fees, and other details, click here.
A Brandywine Christmas
Following the historic hurricane that hit our area in early fall, closing the Brandywine River Museum of Art, we are happy to announce the Museums' reopening - Just in time for the holiday season! We call that a Christmas miracle. Beginning November 26, 2021 the River Museum will reopen in its holiday dress with the attraction's iconic O-guage model train display and highlights from the permanent collection. The Brandywine Railroad offers something for everyone featuring 2,000 feet of track and more than 1,000 pieces. Also returning this year, although in limited capacity, is the whimsical Critter ornaments. More than 8,000 ornaments created for this year's display were destroyed in the flooding along with decades of ornaments that were continuously displayed throughout the many years of this tradition. But, their holiday spirits are still alive and well as the Museum pivoted with the damage moving their upcoming Critter Sale (an annual favorite) to the Chadds Ford Historical Society.
And while you are in our area, we encourage you to visit some of our other world-class attractions. The Delaware Art Museum has an excellent collection of American artworks as well as the largest Pre-Raphaelite collection outside of Britain. Take a stroll or drive through historic New Castle and the Historic Houses of Odessa to view the holiday decorations and lights is another fabulous way to celebrate the season.
Ready to visit? Go to www.visitwilmingtonde.com for a host of options for tax-free shopping, dining and accommodations to round out your trip. We also offer customized travel assistance through the Live Chat accessed through the website. We will see you this holiday season!