Cape May’s Annual Spring Festival Celebrates the Season

CAPE MAY — Celebrate the beauty of spring during Cape May’s 19th annual Spring Festival, co-sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) and the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May.

Experience this National Historic Landmark City’s charm and discover its fresh flavors, fascinating history and lively culture during the 10-day springtime celebration from April 25 to May 4. Taste innkeepers’ signature desserts during the Chocolate Championship Tour & Tasting, learn about the fascinating role fire has played in reshaping the city of Cape May in a new exhibit at the Carriage House Gallery, or enjoy lunch or afternoon tea at the newly reopened Carriage House Café & Tearoom. Step inside Cape May’s private residences for special house tours, hear spooky stories on a ghost tour or discover local gardens. You can enjoy a weekend devoted to fun with your girlfriends during Girlfriends Getaway weekend, attend a murder mystery dinner, and much more.

New in 2014! Experience Cape May’s history up close, through the eyes of those who lived it during the Cape May Time Capsule Trolley Tour. Meet characters from the past who visited, lived and worked in Cape May, as your trolley travels through town. Costumed historical interpreters bring to life 200 years of the town’s history. Offered at 10:30 a.m. April 26 and at 11:15 a.m. on Sundays, April 27 and May 4. Admission is $22. (Save $2 in combination with Sunday’s Murder Mystery Luncheons at 1 p.m.)

Enjoy the 2014 season reopening of Cape May’s Carriage House Café & Tearoom on the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St. with a café menu that features signature sandwiches, salads, wraps and tea sandwiches, as well as homemade soups and quiche, plus the popular Classic Tea Luncheon and Elegant Afternoon Tea. New in 2014! Crab cakes and loose tea service featuring specialty teas from the House of Tea in Philadelphia. If you have a busy schedule, everything is available for takeout. The Carriage House Café & Tearoom re-opens for the season April 25. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and parking is free. For reservations call 609-884-5111.

Cape May’s 19th Annual Spring Festival features a tempting selection of new food and wine events along with some returning favorites:

Making its festival return is the Chocolate Championship Tour & Tasting May 3, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. You are the judge as you taste some of the area’s most irresistible chocolate concoctions. Visit participating historic inns and B&Bs, sample their signature desserts and vote for your favorites. You decide who will take home Cape May’s Chocolate Champion title. Those who turn in completed evaluation cards will get recipes by email. Adult tickets are $20; children (ages 3-12) are $15.

If you delight over a good whodunit, you’ll enjoy Murder Mystery Dinners. Join the Impromptu Players as they set the scene for the original mystery, “Revenge is Sweet” and enjoy a four-course dinner as you contemplate the clues, interact with the cast and help solve the mystery as it unfolds on Saturdays, April 26 and May 3, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $50 per person. (Dinner on April 26 is at Aleathea’s Restaurant at the Inn of Cape May, 7 Ocean Street; dinner on May 3 is at the Carriage House Café & Tearoom, 1048 Washington St.) If you prefer to mull over your mystery during lunch, Murder Mystery Luncheons include a three-course meal at Aleathea’s Restaurant at the Inn of Cape May, 7 Ocean St., and the thrill of unearthing clues to the mystery as it unfolds around you. Lunch is $35 per person on Sundays, April 27 and May 4, at 1 p.m.

Gather your best girlfriends for a Girlfriends Getaway Weekend, April 25 to April 27. Break out of the winter doldrums and happily put aside that pesky to-do list when you enjoy events that focus on food, wine, fashion and best of all, fun, especially for you and the girls:

Join the Friends of the Physick Estate for A Royal-Tea to kick off Girlfriends Getaway Weekend in the Carriage House Café & Tearoom, 1048 Washington St., April 25 at 3 p.m. Dress for tea and join the Friends for an afternoon of all things British, including a trivia contest to test your knowledge of British royals, past and present, accompanied by a relaxing afternoon tea at the Carriage House Café & Tearoom. Admission is $25 for Friends members and $30 for non-members.

Have you experienced the variety of vineyards flourishing in the Cape May area? Join the Cape May Wine Trail April 26 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and you’ll discover them at your leisure. First enjoy a delicious lunch at the Carriage House Café & Tearoom, then board the trolley that will transport you to the Willow Creek Winery, Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery and Natali Vineyards. You’ll learn all about viniculture and visit each of the tasting rooms. $75 includes lunch, wine tastings at each vineyard and a wine tasting glass. This is a limited event, so please reserve early.

April 27 at 9:30 a.m., it’s Brunch, Bingo & Lace, when you’ll laugh along with your girlfriends as you play a little bingo, enjoy a fashion show by Lace Silhouettes/Cotton Company and compete for prizes, all during a delicious brunch at the Inn of Cape May, 7 Ocean St. Admission is $25.

Ready for an afternoon of good spirits? Try these events that celebrate the flavors of the Cape May area’s outstanding vineyards and brewery:

Relax over a glass of wine at the Cape May Winery, 711 Townbank Road as you take a Winery Cellar Tour & Tasting. See how the grapes are grown and learn about the winemaker’s art as you enjoy a barrel-tasting accompanied by cheese and fruit on Saturdays, April 26 and May 3, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20; the event is limited and tickets must be purchased in advance at the Washington Street Mall Information Booth at Ocean Street. If you prefer, explore at your own pace during the Self-guided Wine Trail. Visit Natali Vineyards, Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery and Jessie Creek Winery and taste the unique flavors at each. Offered daily from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $13 and includes a map with the wineries listed. What’s brewing in Cape May? Some great spirits, as you’ll find out on the Self-guided Wine & Brewery Tour of three area wineries, Natali Vineyards, Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery, and Jessie Creek Winery, plus the new Cape May Brewing Company. Take a tour at each stop and sample some of their products. Admission is $15 and includes a map with directions. Tours are offered daily except Tuesdays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Taste while you tour during the Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery Tour! Learn how the grapes are grown and the process that turns them into delicious Hawk Haven wines at the Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery, 600 S Railroad Ave, Rio Grande. The tour includes a gourmet cheese tasting on the vineyard-view crush pad. Offered at 1 p.m. Saturdays April 26 and May 3. Tickets are $20 if purchased at the Washington Street Mall Information Booth.

Discover Cape May’s “spirited” side during tours that focus on the paranormal; hear haunting tales about the nation’s first seaside resort and maybe even experience an actual ghost or two:

Board a MAC trolley for the Ghosts of Cape May Trolley Tour, a 45-minute evening ride through the haunted streets of Cape May. The paranormal findings of Cape May’s popular psychic medium and ghost writer Craig McManus come alive as your guide relates McManus’ spooky stories. Ride past the flickering gas street lamps and the haunted properties of Cape May and experience the spine-tingling tales exposed by McManus. Admission is $12 for adults and $7 for children (ages 3-12). Tours are offered on Fridays, April 25 and May 2 at 7:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. and Saturdays, April 26 at 8:15 p.m. and 9 p.m. and Saturday, May 3 at 9:30 p.m. Take the Historic Haunts Combo Tour and combine the Ghosts of Cape May trolley tour with a visit to the 1879 Emlen Physick Estate, Cape May’s “original” haunted house. There you will visit a home séance room of the 1890s and learn of the Victorians’ fascination with spiritualism along with today’s methods of “ghost hunting.” Admission is $22 for adults and $15 for children (ages 3-12). Tours are offered Saturdays, April 26 and May 3 at 7:15 p.m. Take a trolley tour through parts of West Cape May to the Cape May Lighthouse and hear tales of ghostly activity along the way during the Ghosts of the Lighthouse Trolley Tour on Saturdays, April 26 and May 3 at 8 p.m. Meet the Lighthouse Keeper who will relate a ghostly tale inside the Cape May Light and climb the 199 steps to the top. Admission is $22 for adults and $15 for children (ages 3-12).

A National Historic Landmark City and one of “America’s 20 Prettiest Towns,” Cape May is the perfect place to stroll, step back into a gentler era and explore the city’s magnificent Victorian architecture and seaside beauty:

Hunt for unique hand-made crafts and one-of-a-kind antiques at Spring Festival Crafts & Antiques at the Physick Estate shows on Saturdays, April 26 and May 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., becomes an outdoor marketplace as vendors from throughout the Northeast display their wares. Admission is free and free parking is available.

Take advantage of the rare opportunity to see inside some of Cape May’s fine private residences on the Spring Festival Private Homes Tours, April 26 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and May 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Enjoy touring these interesting and stately homes from the Victorian era to the 21st century that are not normally open to the public. Tickets are limited, so purchase early. Admission is $20 for adults and $15 for children (ages 3-12).

The new theme for guided tours of the Emlen Physick Estate, “Dr. Physick Throws A Party!” begins April 25. For Victorians like Dr. Physick, throwing an elegant dinner party served two purposes. Not only was it one of the most popular forms of entertainment, it also gave the host a chance to show off his refinement, wealth and possessions. Tour Dr. Physick’s mansion, Cape May’s only Victorian House museum, and enter the world of a fashionable dinner party of the late 19th century. The new theme will run through April 2015 (except during the holiday season). Tours are offered year-round and admission is $12 for adults and $7 for children (ages 3-12). Tours can also be combined with trolley tours of Cape May’s Historic District. Meet with the good doctor, Dr. Physick himself, when “The Dr. is In” on Saturdays, April 26 and May 3, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the grounds of the Estate.

Board the Cape May Whale Watcher for a sightseeing cruise around the island of Cape May during the Around Cape Island Boat Cruise. View the majestic Victorian architecture and enjoy tales of local heroes, legends and history. Offered at 10 a.m. on Saturdays, April 26 and May 3 and Sundays, April 27 and May 4. Tickets are $30 for adults and $20 for children (ages 7-12). Purchase tickets in advance at the Washington Street Mall information Booth or at the Hill House office at the Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St.

Board the 110-foot Cape May Whale Watcher for the Cape May Whale & Dolphin Cruise, a three-hour cruise and the chance to see humpback whales, dozens of bottlenose dolphins, unusual sea birds or rare sea turtles, with guaranteed marine mammal sightings. Purchase tickets in advance at the Washington Street Mall Information Booth. Offered at 1 p.m. Saturdays, April 26 and May 3 and Sundays, April 27 and May 4. $40 for adults, $25 for children (ages 6-12).

Learn about Cape May’s fiery past in the Carriage House Gallery exhibit “Cape May Ablaze,” which opens Friday, April 25. From the very beginning, fire has reshaped Cape May more so than any other force, natural or manmade. Even today, fire continues to be the bane of Cape May, a National Historic Landmark filled with hundreds of restored Victorian buildings. Exhibit Curator and author of Exit Zero’s bestselling book, The First Resort, Ben Miller, takes visitors on a journey through Cape May’s fiery past in this must-see exhibit that includes an authentic 1925 Model T fire truck. A free exhibit opening is April 25 at 7 p.m. at the Carriage House Gallery, on the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St. The exhibit is free and open daily through Oct. 14.

Join the Friends of the Cape May Lighthouse for an afternoon of good music, good brews and a traditional pig roast — all for a great cause — to raise funds in support of educational interpretation and preservation of the Cape May Lighthouse. “Pork & Pints” the Second Annual Friends of the Lighthouse Pig Roast, is May 3, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Moose Lodge, 569 Seashore Road, in Erma. The Friends of the Cape May Lighthouse is an affinity group of the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC). Admission is $20 through May 2 and $25 at the door (subject to availability) and includes an all-you-can-eat pig roast and fixings. Beer is included in the price of admission.

Browse among artisans and crafters displaying and selling accents and accessories for you, your home and your gardens as well as eco-friendly resources to help promote a Green Cape May during the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May Spring Festival & Home Show April 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Rotary Park, Lafayette & Lyle Lanes, Cape May. Explore Cape May’s seaside gardens during Cape May Garden Tours. Enjoy the sights and smells of a variety of Cape May gardens as your guide leads you on a scenic hour-long stroll. Tours are at 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. Cost is $10 per person. Sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May. For more information call 609-884-5508 or visit www.capemaychamber.com.

The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) is a multifaceted not-for-profit organization committed to promoting the preservation, interpretation, and cultural enrichment of the Cape May region for its residents and visitors. MAC membership is open to all. For information about MAC’s year-round schedule of tours, festivals, and special events, call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278, or visit MAC’s Web site at www.capemaymac.org. For information about restaurants, accommodations and shopping, call the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May at 609-884-5508. . For information about historic accommodations, contact Cape May Historic Accommodations at www.capemaylodging.com.

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