Experience the magic of the holidays in Greater Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley. From November to January, the region celebrates the season! Discover magnificent du Pont mansions decorated for the holidays, fantastic outdoor lighting displays and glorious indoor gardens. Enjoy fine dining experiences and fabulous performances and don’t miss Greater Wilmington’s wonderful tax-free shopping opportunities. Be here when Santa Clause arrives in a whirlybird at the American Helicopter Museum or take a ride with Santa aboard the Wilmington & Western Railroad, one of the country’s oldest steam-powered locomotives.
Here's a round-up of some of the most festive and fun holiday happenings in Wilmington:
- Hagley Museum & Garden, where E.I. du Pont settled in 1802 and began harnessing the power of the Brandywine Creek to produce high quality gunpowder, thus laying the foundation for the DuPont Company, begins its Christmas celebration the day after Thanksgiving thru January 6. Eleutherian Mills, the ancestral home of five generations of the du Pont family, is dressed for the holidays and open for guided tours. Dried flowers, fruits and greenery create a festive ambiance accentuated by soft lights and guided tours.
- From November 17 to January 6, Winterthur Museum & Country Estate, home of Henry Francis du Pont and his world-class collection of American decorative arts, features table settings, floral displays, toys and treats set amidst exquisite period furnishings to demonstrate how the du Pont family celebrated the season. Be sure to allow enough time to browse in Winterthur’s fabulous gift shop.
- Beautiful throughout the year, Nemours Mansion & Gardens is spectacular during the holiday season. Built at the beginning of the twentieth century in the style of a grand Louis XVI chateau and filled with incredible antiques, artwork, sculpture and tapestries, the lush yuletide decorations add an almost magical dimension to A. I. du Pont’s 70-room mansion. Nemours offers guided holiday tours from November 10 through December 31. Reservations are a must.
- Christmas blooms at Longwood Gardens, Pierre Samuel du Pont’s horticultural extravaganza, from November 22 through January 6. Thousands of poinsettias, towering Christmas trees and fragrant flowers transform the indoor gardens. Outside, more than 400,000 decorative LED lights glitter in the trees while colorful fountain displays set to music delight visitors.
- The area is steeped in history as a visit to Historic New Castle or the Historic Houses of Odessa quickly attests. Located just a few minutes south of the city of Wilmington, Historic New Castle, Delaware’s Williamsburg, hosts the Spirit of Christmas on December 8. It’s an opportunity to go inside many of the town’s historic private homes and museums decorated for a colonial Christmas complete with music, carolers, carriage rides, tree lighting and perhaps meet Santa Claus strolling down a cobblestone path. Later in the evening, theRead House, Amstel House and the Old Dutch House will offer candlelight tours. A little further south is the small residential community of Odessa. Throughout the year, the Historic Houses of Odessa offer a unique and well-documented picture of 18th- and 19th-century lifestyles, but, the first Saturday in December is very special. Experience Christmas in Odessa. The fivehistoric properties and many private homes in the town of Odessa are dressed for the season and open for tours. The day’s festivities include a Christmas Craft & Antique Show, Tea in Old St. Paul’s Church, caroling, bell ringing, an organ recital, a Fife & Drum performance and a wonderful fresh greens sale.
- One of Wilmington’s most unique yuletide traditions is the Sankta Lucia celebration on December 9 in Old Swedes Church. This moving celebration combines two traditions—the pagan ritual of worshipping the Sun God at Midwinter and the Christian Christmas. Lucia comes with candlelight in her hair on the darkest morning of the year. Afterwards, guests are invited to tour the Hendrickson House Museum which is decorated for a Swedish Christmas.
- Shopping in Greater Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley is a real treat—and it’s also tax free! You can shop in the Christiana Mall with anchor stores like Nordstrom’s, Macy’s and Barnes & Noble, search for bargains at the Concord Mall or browse through an assortment of quaint boutiques and fine galleries in Trolley Square, Greenville, Centreville and Hockessin. Our museum shops are the perfect place to find unique gifts…and it’s all tax-free!
- Wonderful dining experiences await you in the Greater Wilmington Area and there is a restaurant or winery to please every palate. The choice of entertainment is equally broad with traveling Broadway productions, symphonies, concerts, live musical performances and special Christmas shows.
Many area hotels offer special packages, so come for the day and stay for the night. Get into the holiday spirit in Greater Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley. See www.VisitWilmingtonDE.com for more details.
Information courtesy of The Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau