Embrace the Holiday Spirit

Freedom to Celebrate

Day One

Morning: The cherub-like faces of the Carolers and Kindles created by the artisans at Byers' Choice are only one reason to schedule a visit. The Christmas Museum gives you a chance to experience these adorable figurines in a variety of seasonal settings, as well as watch for yourself the craftsmanship and care that go into their creation. On the sacred side, the museum displays more than 200 crèches (nativity displays) that reflect traditions and cultural influences from the world over.

Afternoon: The Christmas Festival at Peddler's Village is a yuletide extravaganza of music, decorations, lights, treats and, of course, Santa himself. The Grand Illumination is a highlight, as the switch is thrown and the Victorian cobblestone streets blaze with festive bulbs of every color. Young kids enjoy the rides at Giggleberry Fair, and kids of every age go for the lip-smacking toasted marshmallows.

Evening: The drive to Bernville, Pennsylvania, for Koziar's Christmas Village meanders through small glens and valleys, and as you leave the city lights behind, the landscape becomes increasingly isolated. But that setting makes its eventual "reveal" a Christmas thrill not to be missed: half a million lights come into view immediately, illuminating the grounds in a breathtaking array made even more magical by its reflection in a nearby pond. For the past 60 years, Koziar's has been a family-centric operation, welcoming generations to its Santa, reindeer corral, train layouts, specialty shops and toy-themed neighborhoods.

Day Two

Morning: Visit the twinkling lights and holiday décor that adorn the Garden Railway at The Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania. Fifteen rail lines twist through one-quarter mile of track amid miniature buildings made of natural materials. Philadelphia landmarks - there's Independence Hall! - are incorporated into the layout, and every structure shimmers with lights and sparkles with garland.

Afternoon: Tour Pennypacker Mills during the holiday season and see breathtaking Victorian displays and see the holiday traditions and customs of the early 1900s. The hallways and rooms of this mansion, once the residence of Pennsylvania Governor Samuel W. Pennypacker, are decorated to the hilt with imported glass ornaments, children's toys from long ago and a vintage-inspired Christmas tree. Seasonal concerts often include vocal groups (both children and adult) and bell choirs.

Evening: Agrarian humbleness meets holiday festiveness at two preserved Montgomery County, Pennsylvania homesteads: Peter Wentz Farmstead and Pottsgrove Manor. A Colonial party atmosphere is enlivened by just a touch of history, as re-enactors and guides bring to life the celebrations of our forebears' in all their colorful richness. Period crafts, music, food, dancing and social traditions make for an engaging visit each December.

Day Three

Morning: See how the du Pont family celebrated the holidays by touring H.F du Pont's mansion, Winterthur Museum & Country Estate. The mansion is decorated with holiday settings from the 18th through 20th centuries and its grounds aglow with more than 40,000 holiday lights.

Afternoon: Tour the Brandywine River Museum, a century-old gristmill converted to modern art museum. On display during the holiday season is an extensive O-gauge model railroad, an elaborate Victorian dollhouse, and thousands of whimsical "critter" ornaments on the holiday tree.

Evening: The must-see attraction at holiday time in our area is Longwood Gardens. The holidays come to life in just about every way imaginable: thousands of poinsettias, towering trees and fragrant flowers, fountains, flounces, and 400,000 lights. An active concert calendar offers a steady rotation of holiday music, and no December is complete without partaking in a public sing-along with the mighty Longwood Organ, back from a major restoration.