Feel the holiday magic with a visit to Winterthur’s annual Yuletide Tour12/13/2021 11:50PM ● 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 now 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.
There are a lot of events and activities to enjoy in the area this holiday season.
The Resident Ensemble Players (REP), the professional acting company at the University of Delaware, is rereleasing their audio presentation of Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday tale A Christmas Carol, adapted by Sara Valentine and Michael Boudewyns.
This free audio production will be available for streaming online through Dec. 26, through the Resident Ensemble Players’ website www.rep.udel.edu.
A Christmas Carol is a familiar story, retold to the delight of audiences year after year. The eternally-damned spirit of Jacob Marley appears to Ebenezer Scrooge, warning it is not too late to escape his fate. Scrooge endures the visitations of three Spirits, confronting him with his past and present sins in the hope that Scrooge may feel remorse and change his miserly ways.
Another event to get you in the holiday spirit is the popular Herr’s Annual Holiday Lights Display. Herr Foods has been offering this light display during the holidays for more than 30 years. There are dozens of lighted displays for visitors to enjoy as they drive through the Herr Foods campus in Nottingham. It requires a team of five people approximately six weeks to create the annual lights display, using more than 600,000 lights. Now, approximately 90 percent of the lights that are part of the display are LED lights. These LED lights use 80 to 90 percent less energy than incandescent lights. It takes almost 220 sets of lights to cover “Big Blue,” the largest tree display. It is 90 feet high. There is no charge to enjoy the light display, and it will be open each day from dusk to dawn through Jan. 2, 2022.