Documents: Latest From: Des Kennedy:

'Tis the Season for Spectacular Displays, Tours,

and Events in the Brandywine Valley
by Brandywine Museums & Gardens Alliance
December 2, 2012

It's the most wonderful time of year in the Brandywine Valley! From November through January, the region where Pennsylvania and Delaware meet offers spectacular light displays, holiday house tours, family activities, exhibits, shopping, and more. Highlights below. Visit individual institutions' websites for expanded listings, sponsor information, and details about reservations and registration for select events.

And remember, 2013 Brandywine Treasure Trail Passports are available for holiday gift-giving! Eleven amazing attractions, one amazing gift. Details here.

Brandywine River Museum (

From November 23—January 6 the Museum hosts A Brandywine Christmas, where the much-loved O-gauge model train display fills an entire gallery. This year's display highlights the train experience in Japan following WWII. It includes Japanese model trains as well as copies of ukiyo woodblock prints that helped popularize train travel.

Whimsical critter ornaments and a new children's picture book, Teasel & Twigs, 'Tis a Critter Christmas Tale will be available at the Museum's Annual Critter Sale Saturday and Sunday December 1 and 2, 9:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m. (book-signing December 1, 10 a.m.—noon), and thereafter in the Museum Shop.

Thousands of critter ornaments and a Wyeth-inspired exhibition of Donald Pywell jewelry will be on display all season. In addition, Pop-Up! Illustration in 3-D, presents examples of these marvelously engineered and illustrated books from the late 19th century to contemporary times. Musical entertainment throughout December by choral groups from local schools. Hours, admission fees, and choral group schedules available on the Museum's website. Delaware Art Museum (

The 28th Annual Holiday House Tour is Saturday, December 8th, 10 a.m.—4 p.m. The self-guided tour features ten spectacular Wilmington-area homes and studios bedecked for the season. Highlights include a one-room schoolhouse-turned-home, a Georgian colonial, and a townhouse constructed with reclaimed church pews. The Museum will be open from 9 a.m.—4 p.m. for shopping at twelve artisan booths (jewelry, fused glass, fiber, handbags, and more) and in the Museum Store, and will feature live seasonal music and light holiday fare in the Thronson Café. Ticketing information, home descriptions, performance information, and artisan profiles at

Ring in an art-filled 2013 with delicious food, open bar, art, music, and more at Delaware Art Museum's New Year's Eve Celebration. Details and ticket purchase information here. Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts (

The DCCA—where admission is always free!—presents its Alternatives Holiday Craft Show on Friday, December 7, 3:30—9:30 p.m. during the DCCA Art Loop. Meet more than 20 artisans and enjoy beautifully designed contemporary handmade crafts in this exciting holiday shopping experience. From jewelry, ceramics, and quilts, to spices and metalwork, you'll find something for everyone on your gift list. More information here. While at the Museum, enjoy Rise and Fall: Monumental Duct Tape Drawings. Joseph Girandola visualizes the world’s greatest architectural wonders out of duct tape. Employing a quick-fix material to depict crumbling artifacts, Girandola creates a wry commentary on past and present empires. Delaware History Museum of the Delaware Historical Society (

Happy Delaware Day! Join the Delaware Historical Society for a toast to the First State on December 7, 6—8 p.m. at Old Town Hall in Wilmington. Featuring Jubilicious, a beer crafted by Twin Lakes, Statehood Stew prepared by World Café Live, and live entertainment. Information and purchase tickets here. Must be 21 or older.

Enjoy New Castle by Candlelight at the Read House & Gardens, Amstel House and Dutch House, and the New Castle Court House, Saturday, December 8, 6—9 p.m. This year's theme is "Home for the Holidays," commemorating the Delaware home front during times of conflict from the Anglo-Dutch wars of the 17th century to wars in the modern era, as interpreted by costumed reenactors. Period refreshments served. Purchase tickets in advance (through December 3) at 302-322-2794, or on December 8 at the tour sites. For more information and purchase tickets, click here. Delaware Museum of Natural History (

It's a dinosaur extravaganza at Dino Days presented by Bank of America on Thursday, December 27 and Friday, December 28, 9:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m., featuring a fossil dig, the Rainforest Adventure special exhibit, live animals, crafts, puppet shows, and activities. Hours and admission fee information here. Hagley Museum and Library (

Join us for a new evening program, Home for the Holidays, Tuesday, December 4, 7—9 p.m. Enjoy candlelight tours of Eleutherian Mills, a "mocktail" reception including desserts and mulled cider, and demonstrations and tips for home entertaining. Admission $40 for non-members, $30 for members; includes one drink ticket. Cash bar, must be 21 years or older. Reservations required by November 28. Register online or call (302) 658-2400.

Christmas at Hagley, November 23—January 6, cultivates sharing and giving. Visitors are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy or clothing item for donation to the Sunday Breakfast Mission. Children 14 and under enter free. This year's theme is "Holiday Entertaining at Home." The Eleutherian Mills morning room is set for the New Year's Day Calling; the dining room celebrates Twelfth Night; and the terrace is ready for Christmas lunch. Family activities take place 11 a.m.—4 p.m. on November 23—25, weekends in December (1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23), Christmas Eve (24), and December 26—January 1. Details here. The Belin House Organic Café will serve an à la carte brunch menu Saturdays and Sundays, November 24—January 6, 11 a.m.—3 p.m. Longwood Gardens (

Longwood Gardens will put stars in your eyes as the Gardens are transformed into a holiday wonderland for A Longwood Christmas, November 22—January 6. Inside Longwood’s 4-acre heated Conservatory 10,000 seasonal plants flourish alongside trees shimmering with star-inspired ornaments. In the Exhibition Hall, twinkling lights hang from the vaulted glass ceiling over a 64-foot-long table dressed for a spectacular holiday gathering. Living wreaths, floral displays, and trees as tall as 22 feet bring the magic of the season to life.

Outdoors, more than 500,000 outdoor lights adorn the in classical and free-style forms. Fountains dance day and night to holiday music in the Open Air Theatre (weather permitting) beneath starry snowflakes. Young and old will delight in Longwood’s outdoor train display nestled near the Idea Garden as it travels past miniature Longwood landmarks lit for the season.

Music is a seasonal highlight, include organ sing-alongs on Longwood’s majestic 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ, and evening choral and bell choir performances by area groups. In Longwood’s historic Chimes Tower, the 62-bell carillon plays holiday music every half hour. Strolling performances fill the gardens with music on weekends.

Timed admission tickets are required, and are available for purchase here. Quantities are limited. Nemours Mansion & Gardens (

Nemours is open for Holiday Tours November 10—December 30. This world-famous duPont estate is beautifully decorated for Christmas with antiques from its historic collection along with new items that celebrate the season. Christmas trees, garlands, sprays, paper filigree “quilling,” hand-painted ornaments, miniature churches, original holiday cards, a manger scene and original toys from the duPont estate all add to the festive setting. Open Tuesday through Sunday. Reservations required, call 1-800-651-6912 or click here. Rockwood Park and Museum (

Rockwood Museum is decorated with a musical theme for the holidays, November 24—January 7. On Friday November 30 and Saturday, December 1, 6—9 p.m., and Sunday December 2, 1—4 p.m., enjoy the Rockwood Holiday Open House with costumed characters, photos with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, entertainment, refreshments, wreath-making demonstrations, and children's activities. Friday, November 30 at 6 p.m. is the ceremonial lighting of the big tree, followed by a reading of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" in the mansion. Admission is free; donations of canned goods or warm accessories requested.

Take a rare evening tour of the Museum complete with holiday music during our Candlelight Holiday Tours, Saturday December 8 and Saturday, December 15, 7—9 p.m. Standard admission rates apply. Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library (

Experience Yuletide at Winterthur: A Feast for the Eyes, November 17—January 6, 10 a.m.—5 p.m. daily, including Mondays! Immerse yourself in traditions of the past and dazzling displays of entertaining in this special wintertime tour. Whether you are taking in the breathtakingly decorated trees, the colorful and exquisite room and food displays, or the winter wonderland of the garden, Yuletide at Winterthur will dazzle your senses. A full series of special events, performances, and workshops will help to make your season bright, including extended Wednesday hours with Jazz and Wine Tastings, dining, and late shopping in the Winterthur stores. Calendar of events, extended hours listings, family activities (including Breakfast with Santa, workshops, and more) here. For more information, visit our website, and join us on on Facebook and Twitter. About Us

The Brandywine Museums & Gardens Alliance promotes the art, culture, history, and beauty of the Brandywine Valley, and provides a central resource for journalists. For more information, visit or contact Molly Giordano, 302-351-8515;

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row