What To Do: Good Neighbor Christmas in Downingtown

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By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be at Downingtown’s Good Neighbor Christmas.

Downingtown has changed a lot over the years but is still a neighborly town.

It 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 9, Downingtown will host its annual Good Neighbor Christmas event beginning at 2 p.m. Activities include free refreshments, live entertainment by Walt Kinsey and Friends, Octorara Sixth Grade School Band and Touch of Class Dance Studio.

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, Chester County Emerald Society Pipe Band, Penn Dixie Band, Lukens Band, and Duffy String Band.

Leading the parade will be Downingtown native/West Chester University graduate vocalist Sarah Diamond, 2017 Citizen of the Year for the Downingtown-Thorndale Regional Chamber of Commerce Jack Hines, Jr. and Grand Marshall James “Hank” Hamilton.

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.

Kennett Square (http://historickennettsquare.com) celebrates the holidays all month.

The 2017 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.-6 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 on Saturdays, photos with Santa on Sundays, wreath-making workshops, live reindeer on Sundays and live music.

The Kennett Holiday Village Market was initiated by Kennett Township supervisor Whitney Hoffman who wanted to bring the essence of vibrant European Christmas Market to the Kennett area.  The goal of the Holiday Village Market to give local and regional artisans an opportunity to sell their wares, to provide visitors another great reason to visit Kennett Square and to highlight the revitalization of the Birch Street corridor.

Kennett carriage rides

Another way to get in the holiday spirit in Kennett Square is by taking a special seasonal ride. Horse-drawn carriage rides will be offered in downtown Kennett Square on December 3, 10 and 17 from noon to 3 p.m. The rides begin on State Street at Union Street and tickets are $5.

On December 9, the Kennett Library (216 East State Street, Kennett Square, 610-444-2702, kennettlibrary.org) will host an “Author Signing” featuring Mark Bowden from 10 a.m.-noon.

Mark Bowden

Bowden, who is the bestselling author of “Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War,” will discuss his new book, “Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam” and will sign copies of the book which will be available for sale with all proceeds going to the Kennett Library.

Santa Claus doesn’t always travel by sleigh and arrive on the scene by coming down chimney.


On December 9, 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) for “Santa Fest.” 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.

This year’s theme is Super Heroes, so kids can come dressed as their favorite Super Heroes and win a prize. They can make ornaments for the museum’s Super Hero Christmas tree and take an ornament home. Mature guests can feel free to wear their favorite or favorite “ugly” Christmas sweaters.

Other activities include a Christmas movie continuously playing in the theater, music by Makin’ Music, and mini cupcakes and water to enjoy. Petey Possum’s Hangout will sell cute and interesting educational gifts.

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 9, 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.

And for the little ones, Santa Claus will be accepting visitors between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.

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.

Firebird Festival

Phoenixville’s annual Firebird Festival (Bridge Street, Phoenixville, www.firebirdfestival.com) is set to blaze again this weekend.

Phoenixville will celebrate the arrival of the solstice with a special event on December 9 with festivities slated to get underway at 3 p.m. on Bridge Street.

The celebration will focus on the burning of a Firebird (in this case, a wooden bird and not a high-powered sports car). Also known as the Phoenix, the Firebird is a centuries-old symbol of rebirth and regeneration. The highlight of the event is the lighting of the Firebird.

The free event will feature a “Crafts Bazaar” and a variety of live entertainment including The Assorted Lunatics, River Barry, Stephen DiJoseph, Blanko Dave, NiIC the Singing Dog, Smoke and Mirrors, Joe Kenney Trio, Younger Than Charlie, Whiskeyhickon Boys, Michael De Salvo Band, House Plant, sans Blix, Danielle and Jennifer, The Uninvited, Chelsea Sparr, The Barn Swallows, Dirty Soap Blues Band, The Cozy, DJ Black Jack Shellac,   Gypsy Funk Squad, Jake Fleming, and Sam Schmidtthuber.

At 8 p.m., there will be a pageantry parade featuring drummers, dancers, giant puppets and the torch that lights the bird. At 8:15 p.m., it will be time for the lighting of the Firebird.

The Historic Village of Yellow Springs (Yellow Springs Road, Chester Springs, 610-827-7414, http://yellowsprings.org) will host its annual Holiday Stroll on December 8 from 6-8 p.m.

The evening begins at the Chester Springs Painting Studio where the West Pikeland Parks and Recreation Department will welcome everyone with music, wonderful crafts for the children to make, face painting and delicious snacks. The Baroque Musical Ensemble will perform holiday carols here and throughout the village.

Visitors can stroll across to the Lincoln Building where the Yellow Springs Art Show Poster Competition Exhibition is held and enjoy wine and refreshments at the opening reception from 6-8 p.m.  Also, fine arts and crafts will be available for sale in the Lincoln Galleries.

The Chester Valley Dance Academy will perform its holiday celebration at The Washington followed by the arrival of Santa at 6:30 p.m. Santa will have a gift for each child as he makes note of the long lists of wishes for the holiday. The Chester Springs Library will be open and ready to welcome guests for the Holiday Story Time.

At the Township Building Cultural Center, SALT Performing Arts is presenting its “Christmas Cabaret Evening.” Guests can bring their own food and drink for a night of singing and dancing to the greatest holiday classics.  Tickets are required – go to info@saltpa.com.

The Yellow Springs Holiday Stroll is open free to the community.

The Mill at Anselma

On December 8, the Mill at Anselma (1730 Conestoga Road, Chester Springs, 610-827-1906, www.anselmamill.org) will offer “Christmas Lantern Tours” from 4:30-6:30 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 9, it will be time for “Santa Visits the Mill.” The big guy in the red suit will be on site from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. to welcome kids of all ages and hear what their holiday wishes are.

December 9 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 9, 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.-3 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 Iris Gray Dowling and Robyn Young, Barretta’s Inc. Soap Factory, The Hues of Murky Blue, Marziani Handmade Jewelry, and Simpson House Tea Room.

Admission is $6 for children and adults and free for children (two and under).

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 8-10 and 15-23 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.

“Christmas Around The Farm” 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.

Valley Forge Dog Shows

On December 9 and 10, 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), two “Rally Obedience Trials.” There also will be a variety of health clinics.

The event will run from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. each day. Admission either day is $10 for adults, $5 for children (ages 4-15) and free for children (3 and under).

Parade of Lights

On December 9, 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 terrace 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.

Activities and entertainment are included with admission. Admission to the museum costs $16 for adults and $12 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 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 (Delaware Avenue and Christian Street, Philadelphia, 215- 389-1513, www.Old-Swedes.org), the 2017 Lucia Fest will be held on December 8-10. 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.

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 8 at 6 and 8 p.m. and December 9 and 10 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 10 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 2017 Sankta Lucia Celebration are $10 for adults and $5 for children.

The Spirit of Christmas

On December 9 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 17th 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.

Home for the Holidays

On December 9, 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 Elite Brass from 12:30-2:30 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 9.

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.

The primary travel plans for Santa Claus include riding in parades and traveling by sleigh.

But, these are far from the jolly old guy’s only means of transportation. He also makes visits using a variety of modes such as helicopters, horse-drawn carriages, fire trucks, open-air convertibles, speed boats, hot air balloons and trains.

There is something special about riding on a train that is being pulled by a steam locomotive. Almost everyone enjoys the experience — even Santa Claus. 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 9, 10, 16, 17 and 23 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. Once at Glen Mills, passengers can disembark, explore the historic station and take advantage of photo opportunities on Santa’s lap inside the station. Live music will be provided by Greg Wright.

Adult fare for the West Chester Railroad trips is $24. Tickets for children (ages 2-12) are $17 while toddlers (ages 9-23 months) get to ride for $7.

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.

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.

Steam locomotion will return to the Wilmington & Western for its annual Santa Claus Express. The rail line’s 0-6-0 switcher No. 58 has returned to service after a multi-year restoration and will power Santa’s train through the Red Clay Valley this season.

Tickets for these trains, which run now through December 24, are $19 for adults, $18 for senior citizens and $17 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 $13 for adults, $12 for senior citizens and $11 for children.

The Strasburg Rail Road (Route 741, Strasburg, 717-687-7522, www.strasburgrailroad.com) is running its “Santa’s Paradise Express” from November 24 until December 17. Santa will be the featured guest on each ride from Strasburg to Paradise and back.

The rotund guy in the red suit 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 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22.

This very special train recreates the excitement and anticipation of Christmas Eve. 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.

Children are also treated to storybook readings of holiday classics aboard the stationary heated caboose and visitors of all ages can enjoy a ride aboard the Tinsel Trolley, a self-propelled motor car. In the spirit of the season, kids may come dressed in pajamas.

Tickets for rides on the Strasburg Railroad are $19 for adults, $13 for children (ages 3-11) and $4 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 $49.95 for adults, $39.95 for children (ages 2-11) and $12.95 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.

The Colebrookdale Railroad (Washington and Third Streets, Boyertown, www.colebrookdalerailroad.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 $50 for adults, $45 for children (ages 2-12), $40 for seniors (65 and older) and $6 for toddlers (under 2; must be held; no seat).

The Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad (136 Brown Street, Middletown, 717-944-4435, www.mhrailroad.com) will be running its “Santa Surprise Trains” on December 9, 10, 16, 17 and 23 and its “Polar Bear Express” on December 10, 15, 16, 17, 22 and 23.

Santa Claus will have a special present for all kid riders. Fares for the ride are $17 (ages 12 and older), $13 (ages 2-11) and $4 (under age 2 and on lap).

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.

Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) is in full holiday mode with its 2017 edition of “A Longwood Gardens Christmas.”

The festive holiday display at Longwood Gardens, which opened on Thanksgiving Day and is continuing 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.

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.

The organ sing-alongs will be featured in the Ballroom either three or six times a day. There will also be performances by choirs and musicians almost every evening throughout December.

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 16th 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).

“A Brandywine Christmas”, which runs now through January 7 at the Brandywine River Museum (Route 1, Chadds Ford 610-388-2700, www.brandywinemuseum.org), is an annual event that is fun for the entire family.

The museum’s ever-popular “critter” ornaments will be used to decorate holiday trees, wreaths and diorama settings throughout the museum. The intricately designed ornaments are made from all-natural materials by museum volunteers and have found homes on trees at the White House and the Smithsonian Institution.

“A Brandywine Christmas” also 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 scene.

Special events include “Carols Concerts” throughout December, “Children’s Christmas Party” on December 6, “Breakfast with the Trains” on December 9 and 16, “19th Century Christmastide” on December 9, and “Terrific Trains Family Program” on January 6.

Admission is $18 for adults, $15 for seniors (65 and older) and $6 for children.

If you want to see a holiday show on stage, consider attending out the Barley Sheaf Players’ (810 North Whitford Road, Lionville, 610-363-7075, www.barleysheaf.org) production of “A Year with Frog and Toad,” which is running now through December 10.

Waking from hibernation in the Spring, Frog and Toad plant gardens, swim, rake leaves, go sledding, and learn life lessons along the way. The two best friends celebrate and rejoice in the differences that make them unique and special. Part vaudeville and part make believe, “A Year with Frog and Toad” tells the story of a friendship that endures throughout the seasons.

The production, which is directed by Deborah Young, has performances scheduled for December 1, 2, 8 and 9 at 8 p.m. and December 3 and 10 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $17 for adults and $13 for students (18 and under) and seniors (60 and over). Tickets sell out quickly so check with website before making plans.

There are plenty of reasons to take the short drive to Delaware this holiday season with tax-free shopping on everything at the top of the list. Other activities also serve as lures to “The First State.”

“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).

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 $14 for adults, $10 for seniors and students and $5 for children (ages 6-14).

One of the best holiday events in the area is the annual “Yuletide at Winterthur.” This year’s 39th annual staging of the event, which runs now through January 7 at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library (Route 52, Wilmington, Delaware,800-448-3883, www.winterthur.org).

Revel in the beauty and warmth of the holidays as Winterthur explores 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; a full-room scene of Clement Moore’s Christmas classic “A Visit from St. Nicholas;” the du Pont family holiday celebrations; and the evolution of Christmas trees over the decades from the 1880s to 1960s.

In celebration of the exhibit “Royal Splendor: The Coronation Gown from The Crown,” which showcases the magnificent coronation gown worn on the popular Netflix series “The Crown,” the Yuletide Tour will re-create trees enjoyed by Queen Victoria’s family at Windsor Castle, inspired by a painting depicting the queen’s celebration in 1851.

One of visitors’ favorites every year is the 18-room dollhouse mansion created by designer and philanthropist Nancy McDaniel over a period of 30 years. It features amazing intricate details in each room and is even decorated for the holidays! A tree decorated with 458 needlework ornaments, all crafted by Nancy McDaniel will also be on display.

In addition, two of Winterthur’s own iconic rooms designed by H. F. du Pont will be on display in miniature form—the Cecil Bedroom and the Queen Anne Dining Room. These rooms were created by the renowned miniature artists Eugene J. Kupjack.

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.

Special family activities include “Glass Matters Wine Seminar and Tasting” (December 13), “Brunch with Santa” (December 16, 17 and 23) , “Yuletide Jazz & Wine Concerts” (December 13 and 20), and the University of Delaware Chorale performing “Carols by Candlelight” (December 10).

Timed Yuletide Tour reservations are required. Admission to Yuletide at Winterthur is $22 for adults, $20 for seniors (age 62 and older) and $5 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 2017 Christmas Holiday Tour is an event with an appeal that spans generations. The tours will be presented now through December 31 in Odessa’s historic district (Main Street, Odessa, Delaware, 302-378-4119, www.historicodessa.org).

This holiday season the Historic Odessa Foundation (HOF) is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Historic Houses of Odessa’s annual Christmas Holiday Tours and Exhibits inspired by works of classic children’s literature.

To commemorate three decades of recreating scenes from classic literature through interpretive vignettes and displays, Historic Odessa will recreate its very first 1987 exhibit “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” also known as “Twas The Night Before Christmas.” It will open on November 14 and run through New3 Year’s Eve day in the National Historic Register Wilson-Warner House (c. 1769).

This iconic Christmas poem, attributed to Clement Clark Moore and first published anonymously in 1822, will once again be presented through historically-detailed holiday vignettes throughout the 248-year old National Historic Register Wilson-Warner House. Guests will be invited to recite the classic poem as they tour the displays.

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 of the Historic Odessa Foundation’s museum properties, collectively known as the Historic Houses of Odessa, are open and on display for the 2017 holiday season.

Special events and tours will be held throughout the holiday season including “Candlelight Tours” at 7 p.m. on December 12, 14, 19, 26, and 28; “Festive Foods/Hearth Cooking Demonstration” on December 9, 16, and 23 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; “Children’s Holiday Tea Party” on December 10 at 2 p.m.; and “Curator Candlelight Tour” on December 21 at 7 p.m.

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).

Just north of Chester County, several of Montgomery County’s scenic historic sites are already celebrating the 2017 Christmas holiday season.

Pennypacker Mills (3 Haldeman Road, Perkiomenville, 610- 287-9349, www.historicsites.montcopa.org) is hosting “Victorian Holiday Tours” now through January 7 while “Twelfth Night Tours at Pottsgrove Manor” (100 West King Street, Pottstown, 610-326-4014, www.historicsites.montcopa.org) is also running now through January 7.

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.

Suggested donations for these events is $2.

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-wide Grand Illumination Celebration. Village shops will be open until 9 p.m. with a distinctive assortment of merchandise, special promotions and refreshments.

The Grand Illumination Celebration 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.

By evening, one million twinkling lights will transform the Village into a winter wonderland. The Village is beautifully decorated, Victorian-style, with fruit wreaths and greenery, and there’s lots of live entertainment. Shops are open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Sunday.

Another holiday attraction at Peddler’s Village is the family-oriented Giggleberry Fair. The fair, which is a kid favorite, will be open through December 23.

November 20 was the start of Peddler’s Village “Gingerbread House Competition and Display.” Slated to run through January 2, the “Gingerbread House Competition” features over $2,000 in cash prizes in such categories as Traditional and Authentic Reproduction of a Significant Building.

When the Christmas season arrives in Europe, it is common to see Christmas villages erected in downtown locations of big cities. These villages are temporary sites that feature live music, a variety of holiday attractions and a large number of specialized vendors.

Philadelphia is keeping pace with the European cities with a Christmas village of its own — a special site that will be open until December 24.

“Christmas Village in Philadelphia” (Love Park, 1400 JFJ Boulevard, 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 is modeled after traditional German Christmas Markets. The history of Christmas markets in Germany dates to the late Middle Ages. One of the oldest and most famous ones is held each year in Nuremberg in the state of Bavaria.

It has been passed down from generation-to-generation ever since the area’s farmers started selling their crops in a farmers’ market during the Advent time in the mid-16th century. The goods presented in wooden booths include a rich variety of holiday gifts including Christmas ornaments, arts and crafts, toys, sweets, as well as German food and drinks. People stroll around, meet friends, and enjoy live performances of Christmas music.

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.

The Village will feature the sights and sounds of the holidays with thousands of twinkling lights, giant glowing stars, festive decorations, a musical stage and children’s activities. All the event’s annual fan favorites will be back, including Photos with Santa, Käthe Wohlfahrt, Herrnhuter Stars, the German Grill and the event’s main stage.

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.

A popular holiday attraction is America’s Garden Capital Maze at Dilworth Park (1 South 15th Street, Philadelphia, http://ccdparks.org/dilworth-park), a holiday-inspired Garden that was created in partnership with Greater Philadelphia Gardens and is part of the Center City Parks District.

Located on the Greenfield Lawn, the maze features vibrant plantings, topiaries, twinkling lights, and décor that showcases all of the public gardens, arboreta, and historic landscapes that are located within 30 miles of Philadelphia. A “Welcoming gazebo” will be at the center of the maze.

The Wintergarden and Maze is billed as “a way to celebrate in William Penn’s original center square and the 32 regional gardens and arboreta that make this region America’s Garden Capital.”

Dilworth Park Wintergarden participants are Shofuso Japanese House & Garden, Stoneleigh: A Natural Garden, The Barton Arboretum & Nature Preserve of Medford Leas, The Gardens at Mill Fleurs, The Highlands Mansion & Garden, The Philadelphia Zoo, The Woodlands, Tyler Arboretum, Tyler Formal Gardens at Bucks County Community College, Welkinweir, Winterthur, and Wyck.

The roster also includes Ambler Arboretum, Arboretum at the Barnes Foundation, Awbury Arboretum, Bartram’s Garden, Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, Brandywine River Museum of Art, Camden Children’s Garden, Chanticleer, Hagley Museum and Library, Haverford College Arboretum, Henry Botanic Garden, Henry Schmieder Arboretum, Hortulus Farm Garden & Nursery, Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens, Longwood Gardens, Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, Mount Cuba Center, Nemours Estate, PHS Meadowbrook Farm, and Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College.

America’s Garden Capital Maze will be open now through February 25 – 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-11 p.m., Fridays and Saturday; 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.

Another attraction is the Center City Parks District’s Rothman Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park along with the Rothman Institute Cabin.

The Rothman Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park is an unparalleled entertainment experience on Philadelphia’s center stage in a wonderfully urban and unique setting. Open seven days a week, the rink offers wintry fun for all ages, with a full slate of programs.

The 2017 Franklin Square Holiday Festival (200 North Sixth Street, Philadelphia, http://www.historicphiladelphia.org/franklin-square/holidays-in-franklin-square/) opened its season a few weeks ago and will run until December 31.

The Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show will be open from 4-8 p.m. daily and 4-9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Visitors are invited to experience the magic of the holidays and celebrate traditions new and old at the Franklin Square Holiday Festival.

Inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s electrifying genius, the free Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show presented by PECO is the key to holiday fun in Franklin Square.

Attendees can marvel at more than 50,000 lights as they shimmer, dance, and illuminate the Square to a soundtrack of holiday classics, some of which are performed by The Philly POPS in two alternating shows every 30 minutes. Every evening, one lucky audience member will be selected to “ignite’ the 4:30 p.m. show.

Additionally, visitors can enjoy comfort foods, seasonal snacks, and hot beverages at Ben’s Sweets & Treats and SquareBurger, festive beers and cocktails presented by Cooperage at the Winter Beer Garden, special holiday events on #FranklinSquareFridays, Santa Saturdays, and Seasonal Sounds on Sundays.

If you want to really get in full-scale Christmas mood, visit Koziar’s Christmas Village (782 Christmas Village Road, Bernville, 610-488-1110,www.koziarschristmasvillage.com) which began its 70th season on November 4.

Koziar’s Christmas Village is truly a holiday wonderland — a wintertime spectacle that delights young and old alike with a huge amount of holiday displays and special attractions. It will remain open every night through January 1 — including Christmas Eve, Christmas Night, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Night.

The tours of “Christmas Village” feature visits to a variety of displays and exhibits, including “Santa’s Post Office,” “Christmas in the Jungle,” “Manger Scene,” “Christmas Beneath the Sea,” “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” “Olde Fashioned Bakery Shop,” “Toy Maker and his Toy Shop,” “Christmas in Other Lands” and “The Olde Church”.

Other attractions at Koziar’s Christmas Village include a huge model train display, a toy shop, a country kitchen, indoor and outdoor Christmas displays and a place to visit with Santa and even get pictures taken with the old guy in the red suit. Admission to Christmas Village is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors (65 and older) and $8 for children (ages 4-10).

Another “Totally Christmas” destination for families is the National Christmas Center (3427 Lincoln Highway, Paradise, 717-442-7950,http://www.nationalchristmascenter.com).

Nestled in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, National Christmas Center Family Attraction & Museum takes visitors on a journey through wonderful memories of Christmases past and present, near and far.

The attraction features 20,000 square feet of life-sized, walk-through, indoor exhibits that bring the holiday to life for all ages. It features 15 main galleries and numerous, ever-changing smaller exhibits.

Admission is $12.50 for adults and seniors and $5 for children.

Visitors to the Center can also buy combination tickets for the “Christmas Magic Lantern Show” at the Plain & Fancy Theater on Route 340 (www.magiclanterntheater.com).

Here, they can enjoy a Victorian Magic Lantern Show with live Showman and their favorite Christmas stories projected onto the big screen with an authentic 1890 magic lantern.

Attendees can step back in time and become part of a Victorian family’s traditional Christmas Eve celebration. The family is very excited as Grandpa tells fabulous Christmas stories with the help of the amazing Magic Lantern.

The Showman presents iconic stories and poems like “The Night Before Christmas,” with stunning visual images, heartfelt music and legendary storytelling. And the power of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future will come alive as he uses his spellbinding talents to weave the story of Scrooge’s miraculous transformation in Charles Dickens’ classic tale “A Christmas Carol”.

Tickets are $16.96 for adults and $11.95 for children.

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

The AMT’s 2017 show “Home for the Holidays” 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 for adults and $21 for children.

The Rainbow Comedy Playhouse (3065 Lincoln Highway East, Paradise, 800-292-4301, www.Rainbowcomedy.com) is presenting its holiday production “Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas?” now through December 30.

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 p.m.

“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 $24 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.

Admission is $26.15 on Fridays and Saturdays and $19.15 the rest of the week.

“A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place” (100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, www.sesameplace.com) is a festive, family-friendly celebration with everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends live and in-person at the amusement park in Langhorne.

The annual event, which runs through December 31, offers a wide array of family holiday activities.

Visitors to the park can sing along at three special Christmas shows and a spectacular music and light show at our giant 1-2-3 Christmas Tree, take a train ride tour through the Twiddlebugs’ Gingerbread Cookie Factory on the Sesame Place Furry Express, take part in the Neighborhood Street Party Christmas Parade, and have the opportunity tomeet Lightning, the adorable reindeer from the movie “Elmo Saves Christmas.”

As an added attraction this year, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is spending the holiday season at Sesame Place. The lovable reindeer along with his friends Clarice and Bumble, will be available for photos with guests.

Tickets for “A Very Furry Christmas” are $32.

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.

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