Cape May’s 45th Annual Victorian Weekend Features Burlesque, Chocolate, Spirits, Parlor Games and More

Authentically dressed Victorian ladies and gentlemen stand in front of one of Cape May’s classic Victorian inns, the beautifully preserved Queen Victoria Bed & Breakfast.

CAPE MAY – Step back into the Victorian era during Cape May’s 45th annual Victorian Weekend, presented by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC), from Thursday, Oct. 5 to Monday, Oct. 9.

Stroll the cobbled streets of this National Historic Landmark City and you can easily imagine America’s First Seaside Resort during the late 1800s. Cape May has one of the largest concentrations of wood-frame Victorian seaside cottages found anywhere in the country. Visitors can relive Cape May’s Victorian heyday during this long weekend that includes house tours, living history programs, food and wine events, a crafts and collectibles show, murder mystery dinners, trolley tours and several new offerings.

Kick off Victorian Weekend with Victorian Vices at Nauti Spirits Thursday, Oct. 5 at noon. Travel by trolley from Cape May’s historic district to Nauti Spirits distillery and hear an entertaining talk by Elan Zingman-Leith about Victorian vices. Afterward, you’ll be dazzled by a classic cocktail demonstration.

Take Victorian vices to the next level at the historic Chalfonte Hotel, 301 Howard St., during Spectacular Burlesque Extravaganza on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 8 p.m., for mature audiences. Transport yourself to a time when entertainment was theatrical and sassy, and teased the imagination. Experience this modern take on classic burlesque, rooted in Victorian vaudeville.

Cape May was part of the Underground Railroad, and the Underground Railroad Trolley Tour on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 2:15 p.m. tells the stories of those dangerous days. Hear how legendary anti-slavery fighter, Harriet Tubman, walked Cape May streets, as did businessman and former slave, Stephen Smith, whose railroad cars carried hundreds to freedom. Experience a guided tour of the Owen Coachman house (a historic free black’s house) by David Clemans, who painstakingly restored it.

Don’t miss a very special opportunity to hear Admiral Thad Allen, former Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, speak on lessons learned from his personal experience directing recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina and the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill during “Always Ready: Stories of Leadership and Unity During Crisis” Sunday, Oct. 8 at 4 p.m. A Meet the Lecturer reception will follow at 5:30 p.m. at The Mainstay Inn. Admission is $40 for the lecture and $70 for both the lecture and reception.

You’ll learn about the Victorians’ love of hair jewelry and the cameo during “Cameo Appearances” on Monday, Oct. 9 at 10 a.m., a brunch accompanied by a talk from Thomas Tear about these favorites of Victorian women, who valued them as precious keepsakes.

There are dozens more tours and activities to choose from. Step inside Cape May’s famous architectural gems on a private homes tour, take a winery tour, savor seven chocolate courses during the Chocolate Lover’s Feast, enjoy a brunch and historic district walk, and more.

For more information on any of these events, call (609) 884-5404 or (800) 275-4278, or visit