CAPE MAY — Christmas arrives early in Victorian Cape May, when the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., is beautifully decorated with thousands of lights for Cape May’s Holiday Preview Weekend, Nov. 17-19, presented by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC). Start celebrating the holidays early with a weekend of festive tours, activities and food and wine events that are sure to get you into the Christmas spirit.
Come to the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate for the free Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, sponsored by Sturdy Savings Bank, on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. Join MAC representatives, public officials and carolers at the gazebo for festive events from 7 to 9 p.m. Old Saint Nick arrives via trolley at 7 p.m. and flips the switch to light thousands of bulbs on the giant Christmas tree. Children can meet with Santa and bring their letters to the man in the red suit. Warm beverages and cookies will be available in the Carriage House. Visitors are invited to bring canned goods and non-perishable food items to donate to the Cape May Community Food Bank and to stop by the Toys for Tots table to help support this worthy cause. Step back in time on a free, self-guided tour of the authentically decorated 1879 Physick Estate from 6 to 8 p.m. during the Physick Estate Christmas Tour. Enjoy a Victorian-style Christmas on this self-guided tour of Cape May’s only Victorian house museum. A free Trolley Shuttle will operate on Saturday, Nov. 18, from 5 to 9 p.m. between the Washington Street Mall Information Booth, at Washington Street Mall at Ocean Street and the Emlen Physick Estate.
The wonders of the season are all on display in An Old-fashioned Christmas Exhibit in the Carroll Gallery in the Physick Estate’s Carriage House. This exhibit features holiday traditions through the years that bring to life a child’s Christmas fantasy, complete with a Dept. 56 Dickens Village, model trains, vintage Christmas family photos, toys and much more. Stand beneath the boughs of a giant Christmas tree! Enjoy the images and traditions of the holidays and reminisce. During Holiday Preview weekend, hours are Friday, Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 18 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 19 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The exhibit opens Friday, Nov. 17 and runs through Saturday, Jan. 1, 2018. Admission is free.
Holiday Preview Weekend is the perfect time to gather with loved ones over a special meal and to enjoy some delicious food and wine events in Cape May.
Savor the flavors and colors of autumn Friday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. during the Mad Batter Wine Dinner –Autumn Harvest, a five-course seasonal menu paired with wine at the Mad Batter restaurant. Small vineyards offer big taste! Limited to 60. Admission is $75 (tax and gratuity included).
It’s easy to create bonding moments with the girls during Brunch, Bingo & Lace as you enjoy time away from the holiday to-do list on Sunday, Nov. 18 at 9:30 a.m. Play a little bingo, enjoy a fashion show by Lace Silhouettes/Cotton Company and win some great prizes at the Inn of Cape May, 7 Ocean St., all while enjoying a delicious brunch. This fun event is a great way to relax with your gal pals. Admission is $25.
Holiday Preview Weekend features a variety of holiday-themed tours in Cape May:
Physick Family Christmas House Tours are offered daily. 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, 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. $12 for adults, $8 for children (3-12). Tours are offered Friday, Nov. 17 at 2:15 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 18 at 11:45 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:15 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 19 at 1:15 p.m.
Enjoy a guided trolley tour of Cape May’s Historic District, followed by a guided tour of Cape May’s only Victorian house museum, the Emlen Physick Estate, decorated in true Victorian style for Christmas and presented from the viewpoint 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 Friday, Nov. 17 at 1:30 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 18 at 11 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 19 at 12:30 p.m.
A member of the East Lynne Theater Company regales you with a Victorian holiday ghost tale on the Ghosts of Christmas Past Trolley Rides on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 7:45 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Ride through Cape May’s flickering gas-lit streets and admire the decorations in the Historic District as you listen to a Victorian-era ghost story. $12 for adults, $8 for children (3-12). Trolleys depart from the Physick Estate on Nov. 18. Advance reservations are strongly recommended.
The best way to see Cape May’s Christmas lights is on board the heated Holiday Lights Trolley Rides. Board a MAC trolley and ride 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. $12 for adults, $10 for children (3-12). Tours are offered on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 5:15 p.m., 6 p.m., 6:15 p.m., 7:15 p.m. and 8 p.m. Trolleys depart from the Emlen Physick Estate on Nov. 18.
Mrs. Claus has made a special trip to the Physick Estate to host Santa’s Trolley Rides on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 5:30 p.m., 6:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. During Holiday Preview weekend, bring the kids to the Physick Estate for a ride around Cape May with stories and songs led by Mrs. Claus. After the trolley ride, Santa will greet children with a sweet treat in the Carriage House located on the grounds of the Estate. $10 for adults, $8 for children (3-12). All trolleys depart from the Physick Estate. Advance reservations are strongly recommended.
If you love history, you’ll enjoy the Historic District Trolley Tour, offered on Friday, Nov. 17 at 1:30 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 18 at 11 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 19 at 12:30 p.m. Get acquainted with Cape May on this popular trolley tour as knowledgeable guides present entertaining and educational stories about the nation’s oldest seashore resort. $12 for adults, $8 for children (3-12).
Climb the 199 steps of the 1859 Cape May Lighthouse to the watch gallery for a panoramic view of the Jersey Cape and Atlantic Ocean. For those who choose not to climb, the Oil House contains a fully-accessible Visitors’ Orientation Center and a Museum Shop stocked with maritime accessories and lighthouse memorabilia. Open Saturday, Nov. 18 and Sunday, Nov. 19 noon to 3 p.m. $8 for adults, $5 for children (3-12).
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. 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 Friday, Nov. 17, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 18, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 19, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 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 noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18 and Sunday, Nov. 19. Parking is free at both locations. Proceeds from both shops benefit MAC’s ongoing preservation and restoration efforts.
Schedules are subject to change. Visit www.capemaymac.org for the most current schedule.
For more information, call (609) 884-5404 or (800) 275-4278, or visit www.capemaymac.org.