Holiday Treats

Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald

Yule love the menu of upcoming shows and exhibits offered by area arts groups

Historical Holidays

Yuletide at Winterthur
Now through the New Year | Winterthur Museum & Gardens
This estate-wide holiday showcase embraces the season in a magnificent tour of Henry Francis du Pont’s mansion with breathtaking trees, dazzling room displays, a magical dollhouse and the opportunity to shop, dine and create your own memories. Events include yuletide tours from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. that are free to Winterthur members and $22 for nonmembers. Reservations are strongly recommended. Also on the December menu is Yuletide Jazz & Wine, hosted Wednesdays from 5:30 to 8 p.m.; a live performance of A Christmas Carol (Wednesday, Dec. 11, 1 p.m.; Thursday, Dec. 12, 1 and 6 p.m.); and Yuletide Brunch with Santa on Dec. 14, 15 & 22, with seatings 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. For details, visit winterthur.org/yuletide.

Holidays at Hagley
Now through Jan. 1 | Hagley Museum
Experience the du Pont ancestral home, Eleutherian Mills, decorated for the holidays and the Christmas Trees: Past and Present exhibition, celebrating the history of Christmas trees in America. This month, Hagley also revisits its annual Gingerbread House Competition, where entries are displayed in the Visitor Center and guests can vote for their favorite. Santa makes a stop at Hagley on Saturday, Dec. 7, with photo ops at his onsite workshop at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Hagley also hosts Twilight Tours of the museum throughout the month (Dec. 11, 12, 18, 19 & 26). For details, visit hagley.org. 

Longwood Gardens offers many holiday programs. Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens / Daniel Traub

A Longwood Christmas
Now–Jan. 5  |  Longwood Gardens
Longwood’s spectacular holiday season includes not only its dazzling outdoor wonderland of half a million lights, but also its Garden Railway miniature model train rolling through a landscaped setting; strolling musicians; and Christmas programs from noted area choirs and instrumental ensembles, not to mention regular organ sing-alongs led by regional musicians. And you can complement your festive respite at one of the grounds’ cozy fire pits or savor holiday snacks and spirits at the Café or Beer Garden. Tour tickets are timed, so be sure to schedule in advance. For details, visit longwoodgardens.org.

Holiday Programs at Brandywine River Museum
Through December  | The Brandywine River Museum of Art, Chadds Ford, Pa.
The Brandywine River Museum hosts two holiday events on Thursday, Dec. 5: a Holiday Critter Sale and the Polar Express Read-Aloud Pajama Night, where children are invited to wear their pajamas and delight in the tale of The Polar Express while enjoying hot chocolate and cookies. On Wednesday, Dec. 11, is the annual Children’s Christmas Party, a Brandywine tradition of nearly four decades. There, children can visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus and revel in holiday entertainment and characters, face painting, trees adorned with “critter” ornaments and Cookie Land! For details, visit brandywine.org/events.

Snazzy Seasonal Shopping

Annual Holiday Craft Show & Taste of the Holidays
Friday, Dec. 6, 5-9 p.m. | The Delaware Contemporary
As part of Art Loop Wilmington, get into the spirit with the Holiday Craft Show, a jolly shopping experience dedicated to showcasing contemporary works of emerging and established artists. The lobby of The Contemporary will overflow with handmade products and unique gifts perfect for the holidays. Simultaneously, you can drink in the spirits of the season with Taste of the Holidays, which offers $1 samples of craft beer, wine, champagne and more. For details, visit decontemporary.org.

Winter Arts Festival & Holiday Music
Dec. 13-20 | Delaware Art Museum
The Art Museum launches its yuletide season with a series of merry events. Starting with the free Winter Arts Festival on Friday, Dec. 13, from noon to 8 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., patrons can browse handmade gifts and enjoy live seasonal music from local student choirs. Next, the Cartoon Christmas Trio performs twice—once on Sunday, Dec. 15, with special guests the Wilmington Children’s Chorus and again on Saturday, Dec. 21, with the Tatnall Lower School Children’s Choir. Tickets for the Trio’s performances are $10 or free for children age 6 and under; available at delart.org.

INtheSpirit: A Holiday Party for Wilmington Families IN Need
Friday, Dec. 20, 6-10 p.m. | The Mill
IN Wilmington and The Mill Space are teaming up again to help Wilmington families IN need. Join community leaders, organizations, volunteers and residents for hors d’oeuvres, drinks, live music and The Mill Market, featuring local artists with perfect last-minute holiday gifts. As always, the party is free to enjoy as long as guests bring an item for the holiday family drive (suggested value of $10 or more). No time to get a gift? A minimum donation of $10 gets you in the door. For details, visit inwilmde.com.

Family Holiday Fun

Holiday Sing!
Sunday, Dec. 8, 3 p.m. | The Music School of Delaware, Wilmington Branch
This free sing-along—hosted by jolly, fun-loving Music School faculty and friends—is the 29th annual celebration of the season filled with instruments, songs and fun. For children ages 1½ and up, and families.

Holiday Gala Concert
Sunday, Dec. 15, 4 p.m. | St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, Wilmington
The Music School of Delaware’s choral and instrumental ensembles join forces for this performance, led by conductors Joanne Ward and Marty Lassman. The Delaware Women’s Chorus, the Cantabile Women’s Chorus, Small Wonder Jazz Singers, #Hashtag Jazz and Adult Cello Choir, as well as Midnight Clear faculty rock band collaborate on numerous holiday favorites. Admission is one non-perishable food item for St. Stephen’s Food Pantry.

Family Opera: The Hiding Tree
Saturday, Dec. 7, 10:30 a.m. | OperaDelaware
Presented by Peabody Opera Outreach and composed by Edward Barnes, The Hiding Tree is loosely based on an ancient Micronesian folktale. A hungry monster crawls out of the sea, intent on gobbling up the inhabitants of a small island. Two brave sisters escape its clutches and, through the power of love, work together to defeat it. Similar in theme to Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel, this story teaches children about solving problems for the greater good, that strength is not just physical, and love survives everything. The production encourages audience participation and is a wonderful introduction to opera. Tickets are $6 for children age 12 & under and $12 for adults; available at operade.org.

Dazzling Holiday Dance

A performance of Carols in Color. Photo courtesy of Eleone Dance Theatre

Christina Cultural Arts Center & Eleone Dance Theatre present Carols in Color
Sunday, Dec. 15, 4 p.m. | The Grand Opera House
The holiday season wouldn’t be the same without this Wilmington tradition. The story of Christ’s birth according to the Gospel of St. Matthew is retold through exuberant dance, stunning contemporary music and powerful narration, all performed by the soul-stirring Eleone Dance Theatre and vocalists from the Mid-Atlantic region. The performance is supported by primary sponsor AARP. Tickets are $25-$37; available at thegrandwilmington.org. 

The Nutcracker: First State Ballet Theatre
Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 21 & 22 | The Grand Opera House
This season marks the 127th anniversary of this cherished production with First State Ballet.You can experience the magical journey through the land of sweets with a lavish performance on the main stage of The Grand Opera House; running Dec. 21 at 2 and 7 p.m. and Dec. 22, 1 & 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $19.99-$52; available at thegrandwilmington.org.

The Nutcracker: Wilmington Ballet Academy of the Dance
Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 7& 8 | The Playhouse on Rodney Square
Wilmington’s original Nutcracker ballet is back for its 53rd consecutive year at the historic Playhouse. Guest stars for this production include New York City Ballet’s Unity Phelan and Russell Janzen, and the dazzling Voloshky Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, who join Wilmington Ballet’s dancers, live orchestra and chorus for four magical performances—Dec. 7, 2 & 7 p.m., Dec. 8, 12:30 & 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $12-$45; available at thegrandwilmington.org.

Titlating Theatrics for the Holiday (& more!)   

A Christmas Carol
Dec. 4-29 | Delaware Theatre Company
The Charles Dickens classic gets a bold new adapation from Patrick Barlow and director Brendon Fox. Gather around to see Ebenezer Scrooge at it again in this fresh take on a holiday staple. Using nothing more than props, physicality, and the power of imagination, five actors bring Dickens’ most beloved characters to life for you. Don’t be left out in the cold for this timeless tale with a twist. Tickets are $29-$54; available at DelawareTheatre.org.

City Theater Company’s Passing Strange. Photo Moonloop Photography

City Theater Company presents Passing Strange
Dec. 13-21 | The Black Box
City Theater Company blasts through Wilmington this month with Passing Strange, the powerful rock musical by Stew that tells the coming-of-age story of a young black musician’s search for “The Real”—meaning and purpose through the creation of his art. The score is pure rock from a blistering five-piece band, music directed by Joe Trainor. A dynamic five-person ensemble, guided by “Narrator” and directed by Jeff Hunsicker, plays multiple roles. Tickets are $20-40; available at city-theater.org.

Beauty and the Beast
Dec. 13-29 | Wilmington Drama League
This month, “be their guest” at WDL’s grand presentation of Beauty and the Beast. Come sing along with the memorable songs, be wowed by the costumes, and discover all the magical characters that make this a true family favorite. Also, check out WDL’s website for information about “Brunch with Belle!” Tickets are $12-$20; available at wilmingtondramaleague.org.

Christmas by Candlelight
Now through Dec. 22 | The Candlelight Theatre, Arden
Running now through Dec. 22, it’s Christmas by Candlelight— a rollicking showcase of favorite songs of the season performed by audience-favorite Candlelight performers. Due to popular demand, they’ve added two brunch matinees on Saturday, Dec. 7, and Saturday, Dec. 14. For the brunch, doors open at 11 a.m. and the show will begin at 1 p.m. Tickets run $33-$63; available at candlelighttheatredelaware.com.

Holidays at The Grand Opera House & The Playhouse on Rodney Square
Varying dates
The Grand and The Playhouse have a festive lineup to help you ring in the holidays. Kicking it off is the 35th anniversary tour of Mannheim Steamroller Christmas (two shows Sunday, Dec. 1)—America’s favorite holiday tradition. Don’t miss the social event of the season when “Godmother of Soul” Patti LaBelle headlines The Grand’s 43rd Annual Grand Gala (Saturday, Dec. 7), followed by the Ultimate After Party at the Hotel du Pont. Celtic music fans will want to grab tickets to Irish Christmas in America (Wednesday, Dec. 11) and enjoy an evening of seasonal Irish music and dance. Eric Mintel and his jazz quartet return to the baby grand for a night of music by Vince Guaraldi from everyone’s favorite TV special, A Charlie Brown Christmas (Friday, Dec. 13), also featuring the Choir School of Delaware. And perhaps the best way to experience the magic of the holidays is with the mind-blowing spectacular The Illusionists: Magic of the Holidays (Dec. 13-15) at The Playhouse, showcasing the talents of incredible magicians. Tickets for these shows are available at TheGrandWilmington.org or 800.37.GRAND.

Magnificent Music for the Holidays (& more!)

Holiday Music from Market Street Music
Dec. 5-12 | First & Central Presbyterian Church
Market Street Music’s free Thursday Noontime Concerts offer two Christmas-themed programs. The Cartoon Christmas Trio arrives Thursday, Dec. 5, to jazz up audiences with music from A Charlie Brown Christmas and other holiday cartoons. Center City Chorale sings A Mostly American Christmas Thursday, Dec. 12, showcasing music mainly from the United States. On Saturday, Dec. 7, the stirring Mastersingers of Wilmington present Carols of the Southwest featuring carols and lullabies of Conrad Susa, based on those sung in Latin America. Tickets for the Mastersingers are $25 ($30 at the door) or $10 for students; available at marketstreetmusicde.org. 

Mélomanie Winter Concert by Candlelight
Friday, Dec. 6, 7 p.m. | Delaware Historical Society
As part of Art Loop Wilmington, the “provocative pairings” ensemble welcomes guest composer and guitarist Christopher Braddock, who will perform his original piece, Pluck, as well as other seasonal works, all in the soft glow of a candlelit Old Town Hall. Tickets are $10-$15 (youth to age 15 admitted free); available at melomanie.org.

Brandywine Baroque — A Thousand Times Welcome!
Dec. 6-8 | The Barn at Flintwoods
Delaware’s premier early music ensemble enlivens the holidays with works by Telemann, Vivaldi & Mathias Monn in a weekend of performances at the cozy Barn at Flintwoods and in Rehoboth Beach. The concert roster features artists Laura Heimes, soprano; Eileen Grycky, flute; Martin Davids, violin; Edwin Huizinga, violin; Kathleen Leidig, violin; Amy Leonard, viola; John Mark Rozendaal and Donna Fournier, cellos; Peter Ferretti, double bass, and Karen Flint, harpsichord. Tickets $10-$30; available at brandywinebaroque.org.

Dickinson Theatre Organ Society Holiday Spectacular
Saturday, Dec. 7, 7:00 p.m. | Dickinson Theatre, John Dickinson High School
This free holiday performance features organists John Baratta, Carl Black, Kyra McKillip and Dale Martin in collaboration with regional instrumental and choral ensembles such as the Longwood Performing Arts Group, The Professional Brass & String Quartet, Delaware State University Steel Orchestra, Northern Delaware Oratorio Society, Dickinson Middle School Singers, Sanford School Choral Department and Newark Charter High School Concert Choir. There’s even an old-fashioned sing-along.

Christmastime Choristers

Deck the Halls — Rainbow Chorale’s 20th Anniversary
Saturday Dec. 14, 7 p.m. | Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew & Matthew
The Rainbow Chorale of Delaware (RCD) invites you to a double celebration — the holiday and its 20th anniversary—with magical musical performances. The first is in Wilmington on Saturday, Dec. 14 (the second in Rehoboth Beach on Sunday, Dec. 15). The programs blend Christmas classics, new twists on old favorites, and modern takes on the season— from a Pink Christmas and the Twelve Days of Regifted Christmas to a round of Bidi Bom and the Solstice Song. No matter how you celebrate, RCD wishes you Seasons of Love. Tickets are $20 in advance ($25 at the door), youth ages 3-18, $5, children under age 3 admitted free; available at therainbowchorale.org.

University of Delaware Holiday Music
Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6 & 7 | Newark First Presbyterian Church & Mitchell Hall
UD Music celebrates the holidays with two beloved annual concerts. First up is Carols by Candlelight on Friday, Dec. 6, at Newark First Presbyterian Church on Main Street in Newark, where guests will enjoy sacred choral music along with traditional songs of the season. The combined UD Choirs deliver more holiday music in the popular Choral Celebration on Saturday, Dec. 7, at Mitchell Hall on the UD campus. Advance tickets are available through the CFA Box Office by calling 831-2204. For more details, visit music.udel.edu.

Wilmington Children’s Chorus Annual Holiday Concerts
Friday and Saturday, Dec. 20 & 21 | First & Central Presbyterian Church
Members of the Wilmington Children’s Chorus Performing Choirs celebrate the season with Baroque classics and jazz arrangements of holiday favorites. The choir is joined by Founding Artistic Director David Christopher, on organ and piano. Friday evening’s performance will feature members of the Neighborhood Choirs, a collaborative program between OperaDelaware and the Wilmington Children’s Chorus that provides music education to youth in after-school programs. Tickets are $10-$25; available at eventbrite.com.

So, what do you think? Please comment below.