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Chester County Press

Feel the holiday magic with a visit to Winterthur’s annual Yuletide Tour

11/29/2021 10:09PM ● By Steven Hoffman

Celebrate the season with a one-of-a-kind holiday experience. The Yuletide Tour at Winterthur showcases rooms in Henry Francis du Pont’s former home decorated in full holiday splendor, including specially decorated trees that celebrate the garden. On view through January 2, 2022, the displays are inspired by the traditions and festivities of the season as enjoyed by H. F. du Pont and his family.

Special holiday programs throughout the season include Wonderful Wednesdays in December and evening events featuring live jazz performances, caroling, and workshops. In addition to the Wednesday evening festivities, visitors can enjoy live one-man performances of A Christmas Carol by Gerald Charles Dickens, the great-great-grandson of Charles Dickens; wine and chocolate tastings; and family events with Santa and Mrs. Claus.  

Winterthur founder H. F. du Pont (1880–1969) was born and spent his life on the estate, so the holidays were always a memorable time to celebrate with family and entertain friends. Rooms on the tour will recreate the parlor where the du Pont family and their guests opened gifts on Christmas Day and the dining room where they enjoyed Christmas dinner. 

Two vignettes depict New Year’s calling, a custom still practiced by the du Ponts. Every January 1, the women of the extended family gathered in hostess groups at various houses while the men traveled in groups to call upon them, bearing small gifts. One display represents a calling from the 1890s while a second recreates one from the 1940s.

The decorated trees on view include the renowned 14-foot dried-flower tree, an evergreen decorated with hydrangeas, yarrow, statice, globe amaranth, and other flowers, and new to the tour this year, a second breathtaking tree designed with dried flowers. Other trees are inspired by areas of the garden such as the March Bank and Azalea Woods.

In celebration of the upcoming exhibition Jacqueline Kennedy and H. F. du Pont: From Winterthur to the White House, opening May 7, 2022, a decorated tree recreates the one displayed at the White House in 1962, created by the first lady. With the theme of a “Children’s Christmas,” it featured candles, birds, snowflakes, angels, tiny twig stars, small wrapped gifts, reindeer, candy canes, stuffed animals, and a model PT-109 boat commemorating the president’s heroic deed during World War II. 

The trees on the Yuletide Tour also complement the exhibition Outside In: Nature-inspired Design at Winterthur, on view through January 2. The visually eclectic and immersive exhibition explores the connection to nature that is evident everywhere at Winterthur and which greatly influenced H. F. du Pont’s design aesthetic, one that has inspired other designers ever since. 

Information about the Yuletide Tour is online at www.winterthur.org/holidays.


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