The Arts Deliver Cheers For the Holidays

Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald

A plethora of events provide song, dance, crafts, food & drink, and much more

As Christmas and the New Year approach, here’s a list of local merriment to get you into the bell-ringing, carol-singing, candle-lighting, reindeer-sighting, eggnog-guzzling, mistletoe-nuzzling mood.  Happy Holidays, all!

Historical Holiday Happenings

Winterthur Yuletide Jazz & Wine
Now–Dec. 19 | Winterthur Museum & Gardens, Winterthur
While Winterthur has plenty of holiday events for all the family —Enchanted Winter Day, live performances of A Christmas Carol with Gerald Charles Dickens, Yuletide Brunch with Santa—but here’s a little musical twist for the adult set. Sip a glass of wine and bask in Winterthur’s holiday finery while the sounds of regional jazz artists surround you in the Galleries Reception Atrium Wednesdays during Yuletide. “Winterthur Yuletide Jazz & Wine” features Sharon & Shawn (Dec. 5); The Tony Smith Trio (Dec. 12); and The Rob Zinn Quartet (Dec. 19). Performances are free for members and free to nonmembers with a purchase of a Yuletide Tour general admission ticket. Visit winterthur.org for details and tickets.

A Longwood Christmas
Now–Jan. 6, 2019 | Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square
This season, Longwood gives us a whole new look at the Christmas tree with the “Tree Reimagined”—festive firs suspended from above, towering Tannenbaums created from books, birdhouses and stained glass, and traditional favorites elevated with surprising twists. The holiday spirit continues in the Gardens, where you’ll find gloriously illuminated trees, floating orbs of light, illuminated roots and branches and the Main Fountain Garden dressed up as you’ve never seen it. Complement your festive respite near fire pits or enjoying holiday snacks and spirits at the Café or Beer Garden. Tour tickets are timed, so be sure to schedule in advance. Visit longwoodgardens.org for details and tickets.

A Brandywine Christmas at Brandywine River Museum
Now–Jan. 6, 2019 | The Brandywine River Museum of Art, Chadds Ford
The remarkable Brandywine Railroad O-gauge model train display features trains running on nearly 2,000 feet of track and includes more than 1,000 pieces, including locomotives, passenger and freight trains, and trolleys that pass through a small town, a farm, factories and even a carnival. Additional concurrent programs throughout December include Carols Concerts (Sundays in December), a Children’s Christmas Party (Dec. 5) and Breakfast with the Trains (Dec. 8 & 15). For tickets and details, visit brandywine.org/museum/exhibitions/brandywine-christmas.

Family Holiday Fun

Holiday Sing!
Sunday, Dec. 2, 3 p.m. | The Music School of Delaware, Wilmington Branch
This musical sing-along for the whole family is hosted by the Early Childhood Department of the Music School and marks its 28th annual seasonal celebration. Music School faculty and friends provide instruments, singing and fun! Free to attend and good for ages 1½ and up.

Newark Symphony Holiday Pops Concert
Sunday, Dec. 9, 3 p.m. | The Independence School, Newark
The Newark Symphony Holiday Pops Concert opens with Tchaikovsky’s iconic Suite from the Nutcracker Ballet, Op.71, followed by Hanukah Medley, a World Premiere piece by Dr. Robert Baker, commissioned by the NSO. Other holiday favorites include “O Holy Night,” The Polar Express and Leroy Anderson’s A Christmas Festival. Guest performers include soprano Rebecca Gulinello, The Wilmington Handbell Ensemble, and members from the Newark Symphony Chorus, Kennett High School Chorus, Oxford Area High School Chorus and Newark United Methodist Church Choir.  Tickets are $10-20 at newarksymphony.org.

A Charlie Brown Christmas – Live!
Saturday, Dec. 8, 2 and 6 p.m. | Copeland Hall, The Grand Opera House, Wilmington
Charles Schulz’s beloved characters come to life onstage in this touring production, based on the classic television holiday special. Join in the fun as the entire Peanuts gang —Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Snoopy and more—produce their own Christmas play and ultimately learn the true meaning of the season. Tickets are $35-39 at TheGrandWilmington.org.

Hansel & Gretel
Saturday, Dec. 8, 10:30 a.m. & 1 p.m. | OperaDelaware Studios, Wilmington
OperaDelaware welcomes Peabody Opera Theatre—an ensemble of Peabody Conservatory students who perform community outreach—for their production of Hansel and Gretel. Composed by Engelbert Humperdinck and based on the fabled Brothers Grimm tale (lost in a forest, Hansel and Gretel are lured to a mysterious candy house where they must outsmart the evil Gingerbread Witch), the program is a condensed version of the children’s opera. This is a wonderful family introduction to the opera, perfect for elementary school age children or anyone young at heart. Tickets are an affordable $5-10 at operade.org.

Willingtown Square Holiday Lighting
Friday, Dec. 7, 5 p.m. | Delaware Historical Society’s Willingtown Square, Wilmington
Join the Delaware Historical Society for the first Lighting of Willingtown Square! Located in the 500 block of North Market Street, Willingtown Square is a scenic park-like setting filled with trees and open space. Community partners Brew Ha!Ha!, DLS Discovery and Downtown Visions have come together to brighten Willingtown Square with festive sparkling lights for the winter season. Join in the official countdown, and see all of the lights go on at once. Free cider and cocoa will be provided courtesy of ShopRite.

Titillating Holiday Theatrics

Delaware Theatre Company presents Sign of the Times
Now–Sunday, Dec. 23 | Delaware Theatre Company, Wilmington
With the book by legendary comedy writer Bruce Vilanch and story by Richard J. Robin, this Regional Premiere tells of one woman’s journey from middle America to the bright lights of New York City in 1965. It’s an era fueled by women’s liberation, the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War. Along the way, she’ll discover unexpected friends, lovers, passions and conflicts that change her and her world. Set to the backdrop of iconic songs and music—“Downtown,” “If I Can Dream,” “The Boy from New York City,” “You Don’t Own Me”—this is a story you won’t forget. Tickets are $25-50 at delawaretheatre.org.

Scrooge — The Musical
Now through Dec. 9 | Delaware Children’s Theatre, Wilmington
The delightful Christmas Carol story always touches holiday hearts as Scrooge, the Cratchit family and Tiny Tim bring us (and bring out in us) the best of the holiday season. Tickets are $14-15 at dechildrenstheatre.org.

City Theater Company presents Mamma Mia!
Dec. 7-15 | Studio One, The Grand Opera House, Wilmington
CTC presents Mamma Mia! as its first production of the 25th season. The beloved musical is a celebration of love, friendship and female empowerment, with a nostalgic soundtrack featuring some of ‘70s pop music’s favorite songs. A grand cast of CTC favorites and newcomers includes Mary Catherine Kelley, director, and Joe Trainor, music director, as well as Pam Atkinson, John Cassidy, Lori Citro, Rich Degnars, Trevor William Fayle, Spencer Greene, Rob Hull, Nick Hunchak, Jeff Hunsicker, Righteous Jolly, Dale Martin, Kerry Kristine McElrone, Darby Elizabeth McLaughlin, Emma Orr, Kat Pigliacampi, Dustin Samples, Dominic Santos, Joe Trainor, Ezra Walter and Dionne Williford. Tickets are $35 at TheGrandWilmington.org with special discounts for military personnel, students and youth. Call 652-5577 for discount info.

A Christmas Story — The Musical
Dec. 14-30 | Wilmington, Drama League, Wilmington
This ‘80s holiday classic now brings to life on the stage everything you loved about the mischievous, bespectacled Ralphie, who dreams of getting a BB-gun for Christmas. Relive the laughs and nostalgia of tongues stuck to a flag pole, leg lamps, pink bunny suits and “Chinese Christmas turkey.” Tickets $12-20 at wilmingtondramaleague.org.

Dazzling Holiday Dance

Delaware Dance Company presents The Nutcracker
Now–Sunday, Dec. 2 | | Mitchell Hall, University of Delaware, Newark
Delaware Dance Company is excited to bring its 35th annual production of the beloved family ballet, The Nutcracker, to the UD campus. This fully staged version of the U.S.’s most popular ballet will feature local ballet students as well as professional actors and dancers. Tickets are $15-35, with a $5 discount for children 10 and younger or seniors 65 and older. Visit delawaredancecompany.org for details.

Wilmington Ballet Academy of the Dance — Nutcracker
Saturday, Dec. 8, 2 and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 9, 2 and 6 p.m. The Playhouse on Rodney Square, Wilmington

Wilmington’s beloved holiday tradition, the 52nd annual Nutcracker at the historic Playhouse on Rodney Square— where Victorians party, mice battle, snowflakes swirl and visions of sugarplums dance in our heads. Special guest artists Unity Phelan and Russell Janzen of the New York City Ballet, the HAC School of Dance, and the Voloshky Ukrainian Dance Ensemble join more than 100 dancers from the Wilmington Ballet and the Wilmington Ballet Orchestra and Chorus. Tickets are $7-32 at TheGrandWilmington.org.

Christina Cultural Arts Center presents Carols in Color
Sunday, Dec. 9, 4 p.m. | Copeland Hall, The Grand Opera House, Wilmington
For a unique holiday treat, check out Carols in Color’s 27th anniversary performance with a one-day-only show in Wilmington. “Carols” is a stirring holiday musical that retells the story of Christ’s birth according to the gospel of St. Matthew, through contemporary music, exuberant dance and powerful narration. It features some of Philadelphia’s premiere vocalists and the soul-stirring movements of Eleone Dance Theatre and Eleone Connection of Philadelphia. Tickets are $16-35 at TheGrandWilmington.org or 800.37.GRAND.

Christina’s Got Talent — A Holiday Showcase
Saturday, Dec. 15, 2 p.m. | Christina Cultural Arts Center, Wilmington
Join Christina’s students and faculty members for a holiday showcase of their dynamic talents. Performances include modern dance, tap and hip-hop; piano and vocal performances and more. And it’s free to attend.

First State Ballet Theatre — The Nutcracker
Friday, Dec. 21, 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, 2 and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 23, 2 p.m. | Copeland Hall, The Grand Opera House, Wilmington
Delaware’s professional ballet company presents Wilmington’s favorite holiday tradition. Experience the magical journey through the land of sweets in FSBT’s lavish production. Tickets are $14.99-$50 at TheGrandWilmington.org or 800.37.GRAND.

Magnificent Holiday Music

Dickinson Theatre Organ Society presents A Holiday Spectacular 2018
Saturday, Dec. 1, 7 p.m. | Dickinson High School Theatre, Wilmington
The Dickinson Theatre Pipe Organ Society presents this holiday concert using the fourth largest theater pipe organ in the world and featuring organists John Baratta and Carl Black. Also appearing will be Brandywine Brass, the Longwood Performing Arts Group, the Dickinson Middle School Singers, H.B. du Pont Middle School Singers and vocalists from Cab Calloway and Salesianum High Schools. Baratta’s performance will be accompanied by a short silent film featuring Laurel and Hardy. This performance is free to attend.

Festival Concert — Mastersingers of Wilmington
Saturday, Dec. 1, 7:30 p.m. | First & Central Presbyterian Church, Rodney Square
Market Street Music’s holiday concert features its own Mastersingers with organist Marvin Mills, harpist Janet Witman and conductor David Schelat. Their concert begins with an all-20th and -21st century program, including the tuneful and haunting Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten. Tickets are $20 ($25 at the door) at marketstreetmusicde.org.

Thursday Noontime Concert — Cartoon Christmas Trio
Thursday, Dec. 6, 12:30 p.m. | First & Central Presbyterian Church, Rodney Square
Market Street Music welcomes back the Cartoon Christmas Trio for one of downtown’s favorite holiday traditions! Jazz music from the beloved cartoon A Charlie Brown Christmas will fill the sanctuary of First & Central. The concert is free to attend, but donations are gratefully accepted.

Mélomanie Winter Concert by Candlelight
Friday, Dec. 7, 7 p.m. | Delaware Historical Society’s Old Town Hall, 505 N. Market St., Wilmington
As part of Art Loop Wilmington, the co-artistic directors of Mélomanie present a program of seasonal musical favorites as well as works by Bach and Telemann. Featuring Kimberly Reighley, baroque and modern flutes, and Tracy Richardson, harpsichord, and introducing guest Jessica Lynch, baroque and modern flutes. Tickets ($5-15) available at melomanie.org. Youth through age 15 admitted free.

Thursday Noontime Concert — A Center City Chorale Christmas
Thursday, Dec. 13, 12:30 p.m. | First & Central Presbyterian Church, Rodney Square
Market Street Music continues its musical holiday celebration with conductor David Schelat and conductor and guest organist Steven Patchel. New tunes and old favorites will fill the room with holiday cheer and send you off with a song in your heart. The concert is free, but donations are gratefully accepted.

The Beach Boys: Reason for the Season Christmas Tour
Thursday, Dec. 13, 8 p.m. | Copeland Hall, The Grand Opera House, Wilmington
What could lift your holiday spirits more than a live appearance by the legendary Beach Boys? They make a holiday stop in Wilmington to share the joy of the season and play some of their most beloved hits interspersed with traditional seasonal songs. Tickets $55-60 at TheGrandWilmington.org.


Jim Brickman: A Joyful Christmas Live Holiday Concert Event
Saturday, Dec. 15, 8 p.m.. | Copeland Hall, The Grand Opera House, Wilmington
Brickman delivers the sound and spirit of the season with carols, classics and original songs on his 22nd annual holiday tour. This performance promises to keep your days merry and bright. Tickets $41-50 at TheGrandWilmington.org.

Hot Breakfast! and Friends presents Another Very Dorky Christmas
Saturday, Dec. 15, 8 p.m., The Queen, 500 N. Market St., Wilmington
Delaware’s Premier Acoustic Dork-Rock Power duo salutes vintage holiday specials with this “Dele-brity”-studded performance. Guest artists include Tony Cappella, Dan Kauffman (Glim Dropper), The Honey Badgers, Sharon Sable, Rachel Schain, Brian Turner and more, and the show is hosted/narrated by Mark Rogers of 93.7 WSTW. Get ready for a fun, funny night as Hot Breakfast! takes good-natured aim at the TV shows of our youth in this unique concert event. Tickets are $15 at thequeenwilmington.com.

The Cartoon Christmas Trio & The Wilmington Children’s Chorus
Sunday, Dec.16, 7 p.m. | Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington
The Cartoon Christmas Trio makes their holiday rounds to the Highlands area of town with special guests, baritone Grant Youngblood and The Wilmington Children’s Chorus.

Holiday Gala Concert
Sunday, Dec. 16, 4 p.m. | St. Stephen’s Church, Wilmington
This year, Southern Delaware’s Cantabile Women’s Chorus travels to Wilmington to join their voices with The Delaware Women’s Chorus and Small Wonder Jazz Singers in celebration of the holiday season. This gala concert features premier adult and faculty ensembles from The Music School of Delaware—both choral and instrumental—including Nagoya String Trio and Midnight Clear (guitar, keyboards, bass, and drums ensemble). Admission is one non-perishable food item for St. Stephen’s Food Pantry.

Scintillating Holiday Shopping

Winter Arts Festival
Friday, Dec. 7, noon to 8 p.m., & Saturday, Dec. 8, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington
Celebrate the season during this family-friendly two-day event. Shop for holiday gifts from 20 regional artisans, listen to festive music by local choirs and enjoy the Museum’s seasonal décor. Winter-themed art projects will be available for families, and snacks and beverages will be sold by Toscana in the Museum’s Thronson Café.

Holiday Art Loop Featuring Annual Contemporary Craft Show
Friday, Dec. 7, 5 p.m. | The Delaware Contemporary, Wilmington
The Holiday Craft Show is a festive shopping experience dedicated to contemporary American craft and providing a venue for emerging and established artists to show and sell their works. The show is complemented by “Taste of the Holidays” from Barry’s Events, where you can drink in $1 samples of craft beer, wine, champagnes and more. The Art Loop on site also features opening receptions for “In Between There” by Shelley Thorstensen and “Keeping up with the Illuminati” by Contemporary studio artists Dan Jackson and Shawn Pinckney.

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