'Tis the season for cherished traditions, delectable feasts and heartwarming moments with loved ones. Why not kick it up a notch by embarking on a holiday road trip through the enchanting Wilmington and Brandywine Valley? This historic wonderland offers a festive tapestry of Christmastime exhibits and garden tours that will transport you to a winter wonderland. Fill your days and nights with merry activities that will ignite your holiday spirit and craft memories to treasure for years to come. Who says road trips are just for the summer? Get ready for a weekend getaway full of magic and merriment as you journey through Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley this holiday season.
Here's a lineup of must-see stops to sprinkle some extra cheer onto your route:
Starting November 24, a visit to Hagley Museum and Library will transport you back to 1803, where the du Pont ancestral home, Eleutherian Mills, is adorned in vintage holiday splendor. And that's not all! This holiday season, "Holidays at Hagley: Treasures and Traditions" promises an array of festive delights, including enchanting Holiday Home and Garden Tours, the eagerly anticipated sixth-annual Gingerbread House Competition, jolly Santa Days, twilight tours under the stars, and so much more. It's a celebration that's sure to add an extra sprinkle of holiday magic to your season!
Step into a winter wonderland from November 18 to January 7 at Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library. This enchanting event in the Brandywine Valley is must-see. Get ready for a celebration of American elegance with a holiday twist, all inspired by the legendary Ann Lowe: American Couturier exhibition. This year's Yuletide Tour is a showcase of custom fashion masterpieces crafted by local designers Shawn Pinckney and Asata Maisé Beeks. Their creations pay homage to the rich history of Winterthur and the impeccable design tastes of Henry Francis du Pont and Ann Lowe. As you wander through the exquisitely adorned house, you'll be greeted by the jaw-dropping Dried Flower Tree, whimsical Christmas trees paying tribute to Ann Lowe's iconic gowns, and a dining table set for a Christmas feast fit for royalty.
Five Not-to-Miss Brandywine Valley Holiday Events
Noel at Nemours Estate:
Don't miss out on a visit to the magnificent Nemours Estate 1907 mansion built by Alfred du Pont for his beloved wife, Alicia. Starting November 14, step into the holiday season in true du Pont fashion. Explore the opulent estate and its enchanting gardens, immersing yourself in the rich history of the family. Marvel at the original decorations, including a stunning 19th-century German crèche, and be dazzled by twinkling lights and vibrant ornaments. It's a splendid way to spend a day or evening conveniently just minutes away from downtown Wilmington.
Just a short 10-mile jaunt from Nemours lies Longwood Gardens, a haven for travelers seeking to bask in the natural beauty of the season. From November 17 to January 7, you can meander through gardens adorned with festive touches like poinsettias, pinecones, and snowflakes. This holiday season, experience a riot of retro, a bevy of bright, and numerous nostalgic moments with Longwood. Marvel at playful trees draped in throwback baubles ranging from 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 light displays—including some super-sized surprises—and revel in the radiance of retro at every turn.
For those in search of family-friendly fun on their road trip, a stop at the Brandywine Museum of Art along the picturesque riverbanks of the Brandywine is an absolute must. This renowned museum, home to an exceptional collection spanning three generations of Wyeth family artists, transforms into a holiday wonderland during this special season. Throughout the holiday period, the museum is adorned with festive trees, and guests can enjoy engaging crafts, live musical performances, and whimsical "Critter" ornaments lovingly crafted by local volunteers. From November 18, 2023, to January 7, 2024, you can enjoy the Brandywine Railroad, which showcases an impressive collection of over 1,000 pieces, featuring locomotives, passenger and freight trains, trolleys, and more, as they traverse a captivating miniature world spanning 2,000 feet of track. Offering an interactive and immersive experience for all ages. It's an enchanting experience the whole family will treasure!
Holiday Light Express:
In Wilmington, throughout the month of December, you can take a ride in 100-year-old (heated!) train coaches on the Wilmington and Western Railroad and experience thousands of holiday lights twinkling as you pass decorated homes along the route. The 45-minute ride provides plenty of photo ops, plus a chance to see Wilmington through the lens of holiday magic. Reservations are required.
It’s a Wonderful Life at Candlelight:
While in Wilmington, make a pit stop to see the Candlelight Theatre's performance of It’s a Wonderful Life. One of the most popular Christmas tales ever written, this heartwarming classic, based on the Frank Capra film, follows George Bailey, whose dreams of life outside the boundaries of Bedford Falls lie crushed beneath the weight of family and community. On Christmas Eve, a last-minute reprieve comes in the guise of a Guardian Angel who intervenes to show George how the lives of his family and friends would have been diminished without him in it. It is an enduring and endearing parable of love, honor and friendship. Opening night is November 18, so make this a cultural must-see on your holiday road trip.
Plan your road trip to hit these one-day events in the area:
Just a short drive from Wilmington, the town of Odessa will showcase historic homes decorated for the holidays on December 2. Take a walking tour of private residences and public buildings that are decorated for the holidays and then spend some time taking in musical performances, antique shows and more throughout the day.
On December 9th, head south from Wilmington for the 20th annual Spirit of Christmas celebration in New Castle. Get immersed in old-time holiday fun with food, music, shopping, and performances throughout the day, plus tree lighting and caroling. The event is free and open to the public.
Embrace your inner roadtripper this holiday season and embark on a magical journey through Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley area. It's the perfect time to plan an adventure through this historic and enchanting region, where you'll encounter celebrations that are as beautiful as they are meaningful. Don't forget to capture those radiant holiday smiles – snap a picture and tag us at @visitwilmingtonde or use #VisitWilm! And for all your food, lodging, and entertainment needs along the way, be sure to check out VisitWilmingtonDE.com. Get ready for a Christmas road trip you'll treasure forever!