Cape May Sparkles During Holiday Tours & Activities

CAPE MAY — Cape May welcomes visitors with an abundance of good, old-fashioned cheer during the Christmas holiday for festive tours and events sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) through Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016.

Victorian Cape May at Christmas is the perfect setting for sharing the season with family and friends. Soak in the sights, sounds and tastes as you warm up on heated trolley rides, delight in the city’s Victorian Christmas decorations, indulge in delicious food and wine events, share breakfast with the jolly man in the red suit, and much more this holiday season.

Cape May’s oldest and beloved holiday tour, the 42nd Annual Christmas Candlelight House Tours, will take place on Saturdays, Dec. 5, 12 and Dec. 19. Each night from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., tour-goers can walk to homes, inns, hotels and churches, beautifully decorated for the holiday season. Along the streets, carolers and strolling musicians serenade, imparting good old-fashioned Christmas cheer, while hospitality centers offer holiday revelers warm beverages and traditional holiday treats. All this is sure to get you in the holiday spirit. Admission is $28 for adults and $20 for children (ages 3-12) and includes entry to the 1879 Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., authentically decorated for a Victorian Christmas, and to “An Old-fashioned Christmas: Holiday Traditions through the Years” exhibit in the Carroll Gallery in the Carriage House. Limited shuttle service on heated trolleys is available. Christmas Candlelight House Tours are limited; advance reservations are strongly recommended.

The wonders of the season are on display at “An Old-Fashioned Christmas Exhibit: Holiday Traditions through the Years,” at the Carroll Gallery located in the Estate Carriage House, 1048 Washington St. Here you can experience an exhibit of holiday traditions complete with a giant Christmas tree, a Dickens Village, model trains, nostalgic photos from Christmas past, toys and much more! Now-Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016. The Gallery is open daily (except Thanksgiving and Christmas); hours vary. Admission is free and free parking is available.

Take a guided, daytime, living history tour of the magnificent 1879 Physick Estate, Cape May’s only Victorian house museum, decorated in authentic Victorian style for Christmas, during Physick Family Christmas House Tours, presented through the eyes of a member of the Physick family in the early 1900s. The tour also includes a visit to the Carroll Gallery at the Emlen Physick Estate where you can see “An Old-fashioned Christmas” exhibit. Offered daily (except Christmas) through Jan. 2, 2016; hours vary. Adults $12; children (3-12) $8.

During the Historic District Trolley Tour, you’ll get acquainted with Cape May on a trolley tour as knowledgeable guides present entertaining and educational stories about the nation’s oldest seashore resort. $12 for adults and $8 for children (ages 3-12). Offered daily (except Christmas); tour times vary.

Enjoy a guided trolley tour of Cape May’ Historic District, followed by a guided tour of Cape May’s only Victorian house museum, the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., decorated in true Victorian style for Christmas and presented through the eyes of a member of the Physick family in the early 1900s, during the Combination Trolley/Physick Family Christmas House Tours. $22 for adults, $14 for children (ages 3-12). Tours are offered daily (except Christmas.) Hours vary.

Relive the memories of Christmas past on Lamplighter Christmas Tours, self-guided evening tours of Cape May’s inns or private homes specially decorated for the holidays. Hear a holiday presentation by the owner at each location. The tour also includes a visit to the Carroll Gallery at the Emlen Physick Estate where you can see “An Old-fashioned Christmas” exhibit, receive a souvenir gift and enjoy warm beverages and holiday treats. Adults $20; children (3-12) $15. Offered 7 p.m.-9 p.m. on Fridays, Dec. 4-18; Saturdays, Nov. 28 and Dec. 26; and Tuesday, Dec. 29. Offered 1 p.m.-3 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 31.

Be inspired and get into the Christmas spirit during Holiday Inns Tours, self-guided tours where you’ll visit three of Cape May’s festive inns or private homes delightfully decorated for the holiday. Adults: $15; children (3-12): $10. Monday through Thursday, now-Dec. 10, 1 p.m.-3 p.m.

Ghosts of Christmas Past Trolley Rides feature a member of the East Lynne Theater Company who will regale you with a Victorian holiday ghost tale as you ride through Cape May’s festively decorated Historic District. Adults $12; children (3-12) $8. Tour begins and ends at Washington Street Mall at Ocean Street except for the Nov. 21 tour which leaves from the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington Street. Offered Fridays, now-Dec. 18; Saturday, Dec. 26; Sundays, now-Dec.27; nightly, Monday, Dec. 28-Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016. Hours vary. Advance reservation strongly recommended.

Thousands of Christmas lights and holly transform Cape May during the holiday season. Take one of the many Holiday Lights Trolley Rides through Cape May’s Historic District to see cheerfully decorated inns and homes as guides talk about Victorian Christmas traditions, lead sing-alongs, and play Christmas music. Rides last about 30 minutes and admission is $12 Adults; $10 children (ages 3-12). Offered nightly now-Jan. 2, 2016. Hours vary. (No tours Dec. 5, 10, 12, 19, 24 and 25) Trolley rides leave from the Washington Street Mall Information Booth, Washington Street at Ocean.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus have made their way to Cape May from the North Pole to host Santa’s Trolley Rides. Bring the kids to the Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., on weekends for a ride around Cape May with stories and songs led by Mrs. Claus. Santa will greet children with a sweet in the Carriage House. Adults $10; children (ages 3-12) $8. Saturdays & Sundays, now-Dec. 19. Hours vary. Advance reservation strongly recommended.

Revel in the sparkly lights of Cape May’s beautiful Victorian homes decorated for Christmas on a trolley ride through town, then take a guided tour of the first floor rooms of the 1879 Emlen Physick Estate, authentically decorated for a Victorian Christmas during the Evening Yuletide Tour. See how the Physick family would have entertained for the holidays. Afterwards, visit the Carriage House for holiday refreshments and a visit to “An Old-fashioned Christmas” exhibit. Tour begins and ends at the Ocean Street trolley stop. Adults $22; children (3-12) $14. You can also take just the house tour portion, the Evening Physick Estate Tour, a 30-minute guided tour of Cape May’s 1879 Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., decorated in authentic style for a Victorian Christmas. Included is a visit the Carriage House for holiday refreshments and a visit to “An Old-Fashioned Christmas” exhibit. Adults $12; children (3-12) $8. Both tours offered every evening, now through Jan. 2, 2016 except Dec. 5, 10, 12, 19, 24, 25 and 31. Hours vary.

The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate great food and fine wine with friends and family. MAC is offering many holiday-themed food and wine tours and events that will satisfy your appetite for Christmas cheer.

The man in the jolly red suit will be coming to town and visiting the Inn of Cape May, 7 Ocean St., for Breakfast with Santa at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5 and Sunday, Dec. 6. Share a family-friendly breakfast buffet with Santa at the Inn of Cape May. Children can visit with Santa Claus share their Christmas lists and hear a Christmas story. Admission is $18 for adults and $12 for children (ages 3-12) and includes a special treat for the kids.

It’s a bountiful buffet for chocolate lovers! Enjoy seven plated courses of delicious chocolate desserts and hear how each was created from the chef who prepared it during Chocolate Lovers’ Feast. A chocolate dipping fountain is also included. This is a limited event so reserve early. The Blue Rose Inn, 653 Washington St. Saturday, Dec. 5 at 1 p.m. Admission is $35.

Come home for the holidays! Celebrate with a festive five-course dinner paired with a selection of wines at the famous Mad Batter restaurant during the Mad Batter Wine Dinner— “Home for the Holidays” on Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. The dinner is limited to 60 so reserve early. Admission is $75 per person (tax and gratuity included).

Are you a wine lover? Learn all about wines made for celebrating during the Cape May Wine School Class, “Holiday Sparklers: Tasting of Sparkling Wines” on Saturday, Dec. 12 at 1 p.m. Before you pop the cork, prepare for your holiday celebrations by tasting delicious sparkling wines perfect for holiday celebrations at the Washington Inn, 801 Washington St. Admission is $40 (gratuity not included).

Attention foodies! You won’t want to miss these incredible five-course gourmet feasts, with each course served in one of Cape May’s premier restaurants. Join us for the spectacular Holiday Chefs’ Dine-Arounds, on Sunday, Dec. 27 and Monday, Dec. 28 at 6 p.m. These popular events sell out, so please reserve early! Wine will be provided with each course, with a representative from the sponsoring winery on hand to explain the pairings. A trolley shuttles you between each restaurant and course. Admission is $125 per person (gratuity included). Limited to 34 people.

If you’d like to taste, sip and swirl at your own pace, then you’ll love the Self-Guided Wine Trail. Spend the afternoon touring some of the wineries of Cape May County. Visit Natali Vineyards and Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery, and taste wines at each. Admission is $10 and includes a map with the wineries listed. Offered 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily, now-Jan. 2, 2016. (No tours Dec. 24-25).

What’s brewing in Cape May? Some great spirits, as you’ll find out on the Self-Guided Wine & Brewery Trail, a tour of two area wineries, Natali Vineyards, Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery, plus the Cape May Brewing Company. Take a tour at each stop; sample wine at the vineyards and receive a brew mug at the brewery. Admission is $15 and includes map with directions. Offered 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily, now-Jan. 2, 2016; No tours Dec. 24-25).

Taste while you tour! Learn how the grapes are grown and the process that turns them into delicious Hawk Haven wines during the Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery Tour, 600 S Railroad Ave, Rio Grande. Tour includes a souvenir glass and gourmet cheese tasting on the vineyard-view crush pad. Offered at 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 1, 2016; Saturdays through Jan. 2, 2016; and Sunday-Thursday, Dec. 27-Dec. 31. Tickets are $20 if purchased at the Washington Street Mall Information Booth.

The Winery Cellar Tour and Tastings give you the special opportunity to spend an afternoon touring the vineyard at the award-winning Cape May Winery, 711 Town Bank Rd. Tour the vineyard to see how the grapes are grown, get an introduction to the winemaker’s art, and enjoy a barrel tasting with cheese, fruit, and a sampling of five to six kinds of wine. Admission is $20. Offered at 3 p.m. Saturdays, now-Jan. 2, 2016. Purchase tickets in advance at the Washington Street Mall Information Booth.
Have fun holiday shopping and find museum quality gifts during these crafts fairs and unique shopping venues.

MAC’s Museum Shops are open for extended hours during the holiday season and offer museum quality gift ideas for the holidays including jewelry, teapots, books, and more at the Carriage House Museum Shop on the grounds of the Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St. There are selections for youngsters as well, including children’s books, toys, dolls, puzzles and games. Cape May Teddy Bear Co.® bears, Mocha and Champagne, make lovable gifts for children and dozens of different outfits are available for them. The fully accessible Museum Shop is open daily (except Thanksgiving and Christmas); hours vary.

You can also delight the lighthouse lover on your holiday list with a gift from the Cape May Lighthouse Museum Shop, located next to the Lighthouse in Cape May Point State Park. Here you’ll find Cape May Diamond jewelry, toys, books, and clothing for fans of the Lighthouse. The fully accessible Museum Shop is open Saturdays through Jan. 2 and Sundays through Dec. 27, and daily Dec. 28-Jan. 2. Hours of operation vary and parking is free at both locations.

Learn through lectures how Christmas traditions developed in the Victorian era:

It was Prince Albert who brought Christmas traditions to England from Germany when he married Queen Victoria. Learn how these traditions spread to America during the Christmas Traditions Lecture, a richly illustrated lecture at the Episcopal Church of the Advent, 612 Franklin St. Much of what we associate with the celebration of Christmas comes from the Victorian era, including Christmas trees, Christmas cards, Christmas carols and our image of Santa Claus. Admission $10. Saturday, Dec. 5, at 2 p.m.

Join world-renowned lecturer on Charles Dickens, Dr. Elliot Engel and immerse yourself in the storied world of Dickens during the annual Dickens Christmas Extravaganza, with lectures and performances offered daily. Engel’s mini-lecture series on Dickens ran on PBS television stations around the country and his articles have appeared in national newspapers and magazines including Newsweek. Also featured are lectures by members of the Philadelphia Dickens Fellowships. Included in the Extravaganza is a Dickensian-style feast at the Washington Inn, along with a wine tasting and a holiday tour of Cape May. Sunday-Tuesday, Dec. 6-8. Admission to the Extravaganza is $175 per person. Some events available for individual purchase. Complete packages with accommodations are available from participating inns.

Attend live holiday theater productions by Cape May Stage and East Lynne Theater Company as part of your celebration of the holidays in Cape May:

Cape May Stage presents “A Cape May Christmas” This world premiere, family-friendly holiday production, combines fireside storytelling with the holiday classics. Intertwining tales of Saint Nicholas and Cape May’s historic hero Captain Mey, we lovingly celebrate the warmth of a contemporary Santa and Mrs. Claus on a secret visit to our seaside resort. Performance schedule is as follows: Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. Offered Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. now-Jan. 2, 2016. The Robert Shackleton Playhouse is located at the corner of Bank & Lafayette streets. Admission: $38 adults, $33 seniors (62+), $18 active duty and $18 students. Presented by Cape May Stage in association with the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC). For more information call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278 or visit

East Lynne Theater Company presents “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus.” Based on a classic tale by L. Frank Baum who also wrote “The Wizard of Oz,” adapted and performed by Gayle Stahlhuth, this is a charming tale about Claus’s life, from his early years to how he became immortal, presented in storytelling fashion by Stahlhuth, who has been praised by reviewers and audience alike for her portrayals of 30-plus roles in the telling of one tale. A holiday tradition for many Cape May visitors and tourists. Admission $25; students $15; ages 12 and under free. Sunday, Dec. 6, Thursday, Dec. 10, Friday, Dec. 11 and Saturday, Dec. 12 at 8 p.m.; Saturday matinees on Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. First Presbyterian Church of Cape May, 500 Hughes St. Sponsored by East Lynne Theater Company in association with the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC). For more information call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278 or visit

Schedules are subject to change. Please visit our website at for the most up-to-date schedule.