Newark’s Poplar Hall is the closest you’re likely to get to an authentic European Christmas market this side of the Atlantic. At Dawn and Greg Shelton’s 18th-century farm, you can buy hand-crafted gifts from more than 35 artisans, peruse the British vintage car and motorcycle show, check out blacksmithing, woodworking and spinning demos, and enjoy a 1950s-style spin on Christmas jingles from the band Hotsy Totsy. Acclaimed regional chef Bryan Sikora will be cooking away with special guest Walter Staib, and Santa will pop in for some storytelling with the little ones. Be sure to stick around into the evening to see the property aglow. The market runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free; $5 per vehicle.
This month, the Rehoboth Art League is open for business—and seasonally decorated—from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ditch the madness at the outlets and do some holiday shopping at a place where you’ll find fine art, crafts and unique gifts. (Who knew the perfect stocking stuffer could be wearable metal art?) You’ll also enjoy art demos, local music and snacks.
Rehoboth Beach, rehobothartleague.org.
The 54th time’s the charm. Check out Christmas in Odessa, a seasonal one-day sensation that features a self-guided tour of historic 18th- and 19th-century private homes and buildings—all of them decorated for Christmas. The tour kicks off at 10 a.m.
Good thing Lewes is a small town, because, starting at 10 a.m., you should find yourself all over the place during the 45th Annual Christmas Tour of Lewes. Nine historic homes open their doors so you can see how locals celebrate the holidays. Next, head over to the Cape Artists’ Gallery for its holiday open house. And at 5 p.m., the 87th Lewes Christmas Parade kicks off, followed by a tree lighting and caroling in Zwaanendael Park.
The high-stepping begins promptly at 7 p.m. at West Seaford Elementary School. This year, it’s a “Holly, Jolly Christmas” theme. â€‹
Do something a little different this Christmas and head to New Castle, where the Amstel House is all decked out for a colonial holiday celebration and the Dutch House is party central for a distinctly European St. Nicholas Eve.
New Castle, www.newcastlehistory.org.
Bring the whole family out to sing and play instruments at the Music School of Delaware’s Wilmington branch. For ages 1½ and up, the event starts at 3 p.m.—perfect for getting out all the sillies before winding down for the evening.
Whether its decorated strollers or elaborate themed costumes, more than 600 guests will don holiday getups for either the timed 5K or the one-mile run/walk. Be sure to stick around for the North Pole-themed after party at the Starboard. The run starts at 11 a.m.
Visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus and enjoy entertainment, costumed characters, face painting, model trains, antique dolls, trees adorned with critters, and Cookie Land. This jam starts at 6 p.m., so parents should abide by APP regulations for the car ride home—as in, always pack pajamas.
Chadds Ford, Pa., www.brandywinemuseum.org.
Get your holiday kicks a few weeks before the big day in Milton, where the party starts at 7:30 p.m. at Union Street and Atlantic Avenue. You’ll go home with a smile on your face—and the Christmas spirit lingering in your heart.
The Mid-Atlantic Symphony stops at Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes for a holiday joy concert on Dec. 8
Friday night from 5 to 9 p.m., hit the Holiday Art Loop in Arden, where the
Buzz Ware Village Center hosts local artists and their goods, along with free snacks.
Arden, Del. www.ardenbuzz.com.
Friday, dust off those petticoats for a Victorian Ball at the Arsenal in Old New Castle, where you’ll be treated to a
re-creation of the Fezziwig House from A Christmas Carol—think old-time music, a dance master and period costumes (suggested but not required). Unsure about your dance skills? Don’t sweat it—there’s a free rehearsal prior to the ball. On Saturday, the whole town puts the “old” in Old New Castle, offering an immersive Dickens experience, complete with a Victorian tea, street performances and costumed characters.
New Castle, newcastlehistory.org.
Get a jump on your holiday shopping with a truly unique sampling at the Delaware Art Museum. This two-day event features gifts created by 20 regional artists, music by local choirs, holiday-themed crafts, snacks for the little ones and Toscana-approved beverages for the not-so-little ones. You’ll find everything from jewelry and glass art to stoneware and hand-dyed silk accessories. The festival starts at noon on Friday and 9 a.m. on Saturday.
You’ve got three chances to see Brandywine Baroque’s “Wishing Peace in the World” holiday performance. Venues include Wilmington’s Barn at Flintwoods and Rehoboth’s Lutheran Church of Our Savior.
Station Gallery in Greenville hosts this group show, featuring art appropriate for gift giving.
Take a 45-minute break from the December madness with an evening ride aboard Wilmington & Western’s heated 1929 railcar, blinged out with a thousand Christmas lights. Chill, put the phone away and enjoy the homes along the tracks—which sparke just for you.
The Delaware Art Museum spotlights six fabulous homes around the Brandywine Valley. Themes include “Elegant Highlands Classic,” “Surprise Prairie Style” and “Tranquil Transitional Retreat.” The tour starts at 10 a.m.
The Mid-Atlantic Symphony stops at Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes to ring in the season with a mix of classical and traditional favorites, plus a side of pop. Showtime is 7 p.m.
Spend a Saturday afternoon chasing the sunset through the ocean-blue steeples of Oia, Santorini, with the University of Delaware’s music department at Gore Recital Hall. The Greek-inspired seasonal performance features soprano Irini Kyriakidou. Showtime is 3 p.m.
Join locals and in-the-know out-of-towners for the annual Holly Festival. The event is so big it spans four different venues around town. It features crafts, artwork, holiday gifts, fresh plants and wreaths, festive snacks, and one big bearded guy in red. Rise and shine for this one at 9 a.m.
Delaware’s only professional ballet company takes the stage for The Nutcracker at The Grand Dec. 21- 23.
The ensembles of the Wilmington Children’s Chorus perform at First & Central Presbyterian Church. Showtimes are 7 p.m. on Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Down some pancakes, eggs and sausage at the Brandywine Zoo with the Big Guy at 9 a.m.—and catch some animals getting their breakfast, too. Boys and girls are free to bring their holiday wish lists. Note to parents: Don’t forget the Santa pics.
Clear Space Theatre Company offers Broadway’s dynamic take on the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, that infamous curmudgeon who has a serious change of heart after a few ghosts pay him a late-night visit. Showtimes are 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Rehoboth Beach, www.clearspacetheatrecompany.org.
From 3 to 5 p.m. at the Independence School in Newark, indulge in selections from “The Nutcracker,” “The Polar Express,” “A Most Wonderful Christmas Medley” and more.
What does the Beach Boys’ Mike Love wear for a Christmas concert? Not sure, but you can find out when his version of the iconic group performs at the Grand. Showtime is 8 p.m.
Join Delaware’s only professional ballet company for Wilmington’s favorite holiday tradition in this lavish production on the main stage at The Grand. Evening shows are en pointe at 7 p.m., afternoon start times are 2 p.m.
Attention party animals: The Brandywine Zoo’s Noon Year’s Eve throwdown has a full slate of family activities, including a sparkling apple cider toast as the clock strikes 12— noon, that is.
The Christmas Market at Poplar Hall is a great opportunity to buy hand crafted gifts.// photo courtesy of Poplar Hall
Have a meet-and-greet with the man himself (and maybe even Mrs. Claus) as you ride on the Wilmington & Western Railroad. It’s a great photo op-—and did we mention there’s chocolate?
The du Pont ancestral home of Eleutherian Mills puts on a show for the holidays. Highlights include seasonal décor and interpretations focused on the French tradition of exchanging gifts on New Year’s Day. Daily entry times begin at 10 a.m.
When it comes to getting into the Christmas spirit, you could hunker down with popcorn and the Hallmark channel’s 36—yes, 36—original holiday films, or you can throw on a nubby cardigan and mittens and head out into a wondrous winter’s night at Longwood Gardens. An array of gloriously illuminated trees, must-see fountain shows and elaborate indoor horticultural displays make for an enchanting evening—and perfect Instagram fodder. Warm up by the firepits with a mug of hot cocoa, sing along to holiday carols, or just have a lingering look around. Baby, it’s beautiful outside. Advance tickets required.
Kennett Square, Pa. www.longwoodgardens.org.
Once again, the Brandywine River Museum of Art has created a lavish winter wonderland for all the little—and big—conductors in the family. The annual holiday display includes an extensive O-gauge model railroad that runs almost 2,000 feet long and includes more than 1,000 pieces. (We’re just glad it’s not in our house.) Don’t forget to check out the unique critter ornaments.
Chadds Ford, Pa. www.brandywine.org.
The folks at the Brandywine River Museum of Art are well versed in the fine art of getting a jump start on seasonal programming. The beautifully curated Holidays & Snowdays: Illustrations for Children’s Books celebrates the work of three illustrators and their diverse cultural and creative palettes. Savor the beauty of an unexpected snow day, the festive vibe of 1920s Harlem and the spirited nuance of a Hanukkah celebration.
Chadds Ford, Pa. www.brandywine.org.
Not even Chip and Joanna Gaines would find a single holiday element out of place at the Henry Francis du Pont mansion this season. Yuletide at Winterthur keeps on sparkling into the first week of January with some good old-fashioned du Pont razzle-dazzle—breathtaking trees, a magical 18-room doll house and glittery glass ornaments, all gussied up with an old-school 1800s vibe. The manse awaits you daily at Winterthur.
December marks the official kickoff of a month’s worth of Christmas activities at the canal. Festivities include live music, carolers, great food and, of course, the entire Claus clan.
Chesapeake City, Md. www.chesapeakecity.com.