What To Do: A Good neighbor Christmas, a century of steel

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Downingtown Good Neighbor Christmas

Downingtown has 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 8, Downingtown will host its annual Good Neighbor Christmas event beginning at 1:30 p.m. Activities include free refreshments, live entertainment by Walt Kinsey and Company, Octorara Snowflake Symphony 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.

Coatesville will be the site of a special Christmas event on December 7 from 3:30-8 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.

As an added attraction, Santa Claus will be at the event to receive wish lists from visitors young and old.

On December 13, the Museum will have a special event to “Celebrate 100 Years of the 206″ Rolling Mill” from 6-8 p.m.

Coatesville’s 206

Richard Smith, Manager of Process and Product Design at the ArcelorMittal Coatesville, will lead a visit to Coatesville’s 206″ Rolling Mill, which is celebrating 100 years of operations in 2018.  The 206″ was once the largest mill in the world and is still making steel for American ships and submarines.

Also opening that night is National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum’s newest exhibit – “Roll That Steel! Rolling, Coatesville, and the World’s Largest Plate Mill.”

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

The 2018 Kennett Square Holiday Village Market will be held at The Creamery of Kennett Square (401 Birch Street, Kennett Square) on December 8 and 9 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 on Saturdays, photos with Santa on Sundays, wreath-making workshops 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.

On December 7, “First Friday Art Stroll – Wrap it Up!” at the Square Pear Gallery (200 East State Street
Kennett Square, http://www.squarepeargallery.com/) will take place from 6-9 p.m.

The show will feature paintings, pottery and jewelry by talented local artists including Michael Buszkco, Janice Chassier, Ki Crittendon, Brad Earl, Jack Gianguilio, Ann Guidera-Matey, Robert Jenkins, Rhoda Kahler, Lidia Kohutiak, Matiko Mamaladze, Al Moretti, Kathryn E. Noska, Susan O’Hanlon, Peter Saenger, Sandra Severson, Patricia Walkar, Merril Weber and Katy Winters.

A “Sunday Brunch with Santa” highlights a host of holiday-themed events at The Market at Liberty Place (148 West State Street, Kennett Square) this December.  A visit with Santa will take place on December 9 from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and is free of charge.  Brunch may be purchased separately from Mary Pat’s Provisions, one of the businesses in The Market.  Tickets are sold in person at Mary Pat’s, by phone at 484-280-8297, and online at http://www.eventbrite.com.

On December 8, there will be a “Reindeer Lights Painting Class” for kids at 10 a.m. and a book signing with local author John Ruben Aranton from 3-5 p.m. The Market at Liberty Place will also feature pop-up vendors throughout the month in selling both food and non-food items.

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 2, 9, 16 and 23 from noon-3 p.m.

Carriages rides leave from the northeast corner of State and Union Street (in front of Genesis HealthCare Building) and cost $5 per person (children 5 and under are free). The carriage ride is about 15 minutes.  Last carriage ride leaves around 2:45 p.m.

Carriage rides are weather dependent (temperature, wind and precipitation). The health and safety of the horses are the top priority for carriage ride provider – Lisa Knox of Fox Meadow Farms.

Longwood Gardens

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

The festive holiday display at Longwood Gardens, which opened on Thanksgiving Day and is continuing through January 6, 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 from November 23-January 6 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, “Breakfast with the Trains” on December 8 and 15, and “Terrific Trains Family Program” on January 5.

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

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

American Helicopter Museum

On December 8, 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.

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.

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 8, 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 (Veterans Field, 192 Mowere Road, Phoenixville, www.firebirdfestival.com) is set to light up the sky again this weekend.

Phoenixville will celebrate the arrival of the solstice with a special event on December 8 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 Uninvited, Blue Moon Band, Gypsy Funk Squad, Jake Fleming, Stephen DiJoseph, The Cozy, DJ Black Jack Shellac, Canadian Tuxedo, Dave Loves Donna, Dirk Quinn, Josh and Allison Strange, House Plant, Olivia Swenson, Ralph Pagano & the Criminal Element Band, and Florida Wayne Band.

At 8 p.m., there will be a pageantry parade featuring drummers, dancers, giant puppets and the torch that lights the bird. Then, 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 7 from 5-8 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.

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 Yellow Springs Holiday Stroll is open free to the community.

On December 7, 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 8, 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 8 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 8, 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 Bruce Mowday and Iris Gray Dowling, Barretta’s Inc. Soap Factory, The Hues of Murky Blue, Marziani Handmade Jewelry, Locust Lane Craft Brewery, Center Massage, Manatawney Still Works and Simpson House Tea Room.

Admission is $7 per person — 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 lasts 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. Arasapha Farm is featuring its “Holiday Hayride” on December 7-9 and 14-23 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).

“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, 610-876-7116www.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.

“Time Out” from all this holiday stuff. There are a few entries on the weekend calendar that are not holiday-related events.

Valley Forge Dog Shows

On December 8 and 9, the Valley Forge Kennel Club, Inc. will host the annual Valley Forge Dog Shows at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center (100 Station Ave., Oaks, 484-754-3976http://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).

Kimberton Waldorf’s 42nd Annual Craft Show, which features sales booths and other family activities, will be held December 7 and 8 at Kimberton Waldorf School (410 West Seven Stars Road, Phoenixville, 610-933-3635, https://www.kimbertoncraftshow.org/).

The show will include more than 70 top-flight artisans presenting textiles, jewelry, pottery, woodwork, handmade toys, and gourmet foods.

The gala opening on Friday evening attracts many eager shoppers. Events on Saturday include lunch, an elegant tearoom with musical entertainment, and a number of children’s activities.

Tickets for the ‘Preview Night,” which runs from 6-10 p.m., are $10. Saturday’s activities run from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and admission is $5.

The City of Lancaster will celebrate First Friday on December 7 from 5-9 p.m. at a variety of venues in the center of town.

Some of the highlights of this month’s “First Friday” celebration will be “Buddhism,” a photo display at City Hall Gallery (120 North Duke Street), along with art exhibitions at Benjamin Roberts Ltd (240 North Prince Street), Community Room on King (106 West King Street), Mulberry Art Studios (19-21 North Mulberry Street) and Paris Wyatt Llanso Behind the Scenes (26 North Water Street).

There will also be a performance by Harrisburg Gay Men’s Chorus at First Reformed Church (40 East Orange Street) from 7-8:30 p.m.

O.K. Time to get back to the weekend’s holiday-related activities.

On December 8, 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 $17 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 2018 Lucia Fest will be held on December 7-9. At Gloria Dei Old Swedes’ Church (606 Church Street, Wilmington Delaware, 302- 652-5629www.oldswedes.org), the Sankta Lucia Celebration is scheduled for December 9.

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 7 at 6 and 8 p.m. and December 8 and 9 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 9 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 2018 Sankta Lucia Celebration are $10 for adults and $5 for children.

“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, opens today and continues 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 $15 for adults, $11 for seniors and students and $6 for children (ages 6-14).

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 from November 17 through January 6 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 we 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; 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.

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.

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.

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 “Holidays at the Estate.”

Originally constructed more than a century ago, Nemours Mansion is one of Delaware’s grandest buildings and includes the largest formal French garden in North America.

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. New this year, the mechanical wing of the basement will feature holiday displays made from metal, glass and industrial elements sure to inspire any inventor or engineer.

The Historic Odessa Foundation’s 2018 Christmas Holiday Tour is an event with an appeal that spans generations. The tours will be presented now through December 30 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 31st anniversary of the Historic Houses of Odessa’s annual Christmas Holiday Tours and Exhibits inspired by works of classic children’s literature.

This holiday season the Historic Odessa Foundation will be having a Dickens of a Christmas as it celebrates the 175th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ indelible classic “A Christmas Carol, In Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas,” first published in 1843.

Visitors will be transported into Charles Dickens’ powerful Christmas tale of redemption as the 244-year old Corbit-Sharp House is transformed into the world of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge with vignettes to include depictions of his counting house, his lodgings, the festive Mr. Fezziwig’s ball, the austere house of Tiny Tim, the parlor of Scrooge’s nephew Fred, and the cemetery.

All of the Historic Houses of Odessa are open and on full festive display for the 2018 Holiday Season, including special school and family tours and events celebrating “A Christmas Carol, In Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas” and special exhibit in the National Historic Landmark Corbit-Sharp House (c. 1774), and the Storybook Trees exhibit in the Wilson-Warner House (1769).

Special events and tours will be held throughout the holiday season including “Candlelight Tours” at 7 p.m. on December 11, 13, 18, and 27; “Festive Foods/Hearth Cooking Demonstration” on December 8, 15, and 29 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; “Children’s Holiday Tea Party” on December 9 at 2 p.m.; and “Curator Candlelight Tour” on December 20 at 5 and 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).

On December 8 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 18th 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.

On December 7, 8, 14 and 15, Rockwood Park (4651 Washington Street Extension, North Wilmington) is hosting its annual “Candlelight Tours.”

The popular family event, which runs from 5-7 p.m. each night features tours of the holiday display in the museum and a joyous light display in the gardens surrounding the Mansion and Carriage House.

This is a free event, but donations of non-perishable foods are collected for local food closets.

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.

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 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 and 23 at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. There will be additional departures at 5 p.m. on December 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 and 23.

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 $25. Tickets for children (ages 2-12) are $18 while toddlers (ages 9-23 months) get to ride for $8.

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 23, 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.

Tickets are $19.50 for adults, $13.50 for children (ages 2-11) and $4 for infants.

The Strasburg Railroad will also be running its “Night Before Christmas” train on December 1, 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 these rides on the Strasburg Railroad are $19.50 for adults, $13.50 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 $94.98 for adults, $84.98 for children (ages 3-11) and $15.95 for infants (ages 0-2).

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.

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” is running on December 8 and 9 and 15-23. The “’Twas The Night Before Christmas Train” will depart on December 7 and 8 and 14-23.  The “Snowflake Special” will run from December 25-31.

It is approximately a two-hour round trip for any of the train excursions.

Tickets for “Santa Claus Polar Express Train” and “’Twas The Night Before Christmas Train” are $45 for adults, $34 for children (ages 2-12), $38 for seniors (65 and older) and $5 for toddlers (under 2; must be held; no seat). Tickets for the “Snowflake Special” are $30 for adults, $23 for children (ages 2-12), $25 for seniors (65 and older) and $5 for toddlers (under 2).

The Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad (136 Brown Street, Middletown, 717-944-4435, www.mhrailroad.com) will be running its “Santa Surprise Trains” on December 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 and 23 and its “Polar Bear Express” on December 8, 9, 14-16 and 21-23.

Santa Claus will have a special present for all kid riders.

It is an 11-mile round-trip train ride along the Swatara Creek. Passengers board 1920’s vintage Delaware, Lackawanna & Western coaches at the 1891 Station in Middletown, which was originally built as a freight station and in more recent years converted for use as a passenger station. The Station contains a ticket window, gift shop and modern ADA restrooms.

Santa Claus will have a special present for all kid riders. Fares for the “Santa Surprise” rides are $17 (ages 12 and older), $14 (ages 2-11) and $4 (under age 2 and on lap). Tickets for the “Polar Bear Express” trains are $20 (ages 12 and older), $15 (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,http://www.morrisarboretum.org). 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 $19 for adults, $17 for seniors (65 and older) and $10 for students and military.

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 Charlie Brown Christmas,” which is being staged December 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16.

Will Charlie Brown find his holiday spirit and the true meaning of Christmas even when getting the perfect tree and directing the Christmas Pageant do not go the way he planned?

Find out as this holiday tradition comes to life. The 1965 animated classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas is now a stage show with all the characters you know and love.

The production, which is directed by Christine Robinson, has performances scheduled for December 8, 9 ad 16, at 2 p.m., December 14 at 7 p.m. and December 15 at 2 and 7 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.

Just north of Chester County, several of Montgomery County’s scenic historic sites are already celebrating the 2018 Christmas holiday season.

Pennypacker Mills (3 Haldeman Road, Perkiomenville, 610- 287-9349, www.historicsites.montcopa.org) is hosting “Victorian Holiday Tours” now through January 6 while “Twelfth Night Tours at Pottsgrove Manor” (100 West King Street, Pottstown, 610-326-4014, www.historicsites.montcopa.org) are running now through January 6.

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 are $2.

Peddler’s Village (Routes 202 and 263, Lahaska, 215-794-4000, http://peddlersvillage.com) has a lot of activity at the site over the next few weeks.

Visitors to the Village can join special guest Mrs. Claus for festive fun and mini-lightings in a different Village neighborhood each night leading up to 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. Santa will arrive to turn on the lights and officially mark the beginning of the event. After the lights go on, visitors will be treated to free cider and toasted marshmallows.

Peddler’s Village “Gingerbread House Competition and Display” is slated to run through January 5. 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 Philadelphia 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 2018 Franklin Square Holiday Festival (200 North Sixth Street, Philadelphia, http://www.historicphiladelphia.org/franklin-square/holidays-in-franklin-square/) opens its season this weekend and it 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.

On December 7, Taller Puertorriqueño (2600 N 5th St, Philadelphia, https://tallerpr.org)  will host its yearly “Parrandas de Navidad” from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

The event is the 19TH ANNUAL traditional celebration of songs in the spirit of the season. Parrandas or trullas navideñas is Puerto Rico’s version of caroling.

Participants are invited to bring their instruments and voices and get into the holiday spirit.  Guests will also have the opportunity to partake in a tasting of favorite foods by Chef Marangeli Rosa’s Entre Sabores. The event will also feature refreshments, art, raffles, and much more.

If you really want to get into a Christmas mood in a big way, visit Koziar’s Christmas Village (782 Christmas Village Road, Bernville, 610-488-1110, www.koziarschristmasvillage.com) which begins its 71st season on November 3.

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 $12 for adults, $11 for seniors (65 and older) and $10 for children (ages 4-10).

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 2018 show “The First Noel” 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 Rainbow Comedy Playhouse (3065 Lincoln Highway East, Paradise, 800-292-4301www.Rainbowcomedy.com) is presenting its holiday production “Christmas in Paradise” now through December 29.

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 6:30 p.m. and the show following at 8 p.m. There will also be “Twilight Performances” on selected Sundays with dinner at 2:30 p.m. and the show at 4 p.m. Ticket prices range from $27-$63.

“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.

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 to “Christmas Candylane” is $26.95.

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.

“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 January 1, 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 to meet 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 $34.99.

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 23.

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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