Remember: There are 12 days of Christmas even if you don’t have a partridge in a pear tree or seven swans a swimming. So, catch your breath and check out the many holiday events still happening before they vanish, like Santa, for another year.
“An Old-Fashioned Christmas Exhibit: Holiday Traditions through the Years” in the Carroll Gallery on the grounds of Physick Estate in Cape May is a giant indoor Christmas tree display, an elaborate Dept. 56 Dickens Village, model trains, nostalgic photos, toys and more. Guess what? t’s free – a wonderful thing after holiday expenditures and the kids will love it. www.capemaymac.org
Catch one of the remaining performances of One Christmas Carol at Cape May Stage and combine it with dinner, perhaps at the Cricket Club, the newest – and trendiest - spot in town. At the Levoy Theatre in Millville, it’s Genessa and the Selena Experience Dec. 29th or Almost Queen – Tribute to QUEEN on the 30th – a great way to start your New Year’s weekend. www.capemaystage.org; www.levoy.net
Check the schedule of Christmas week tours at Cape May MAC – a trolley tour of the historic district or a trolley ride that includes the lavish Physick Estate offering tours of the first two floors of this Victorian museum, lavishly decorated for the season. www.capemaymac.org
Ring in the New Year with a few thousand of your closest friends at Ocean City’s First Night, Dec. 31. That’s right – admission buttons are limited to 10,000 people, pretty amazing considering that 30 years ago about 800 people attended the first celebration that featured about 25 acts in five locations. This year, from 4 PM to midnight, revelers will enjoy more than 70 alcohol-free entertainment programs at 20 different venues culminating with fireworks at midnight to welcome 2023. Celebrate New Year’s Day your way - a First Day shopping extravaganza with great bargains on Asbury, one last horse and carriage ride, a First Day Run on the Boardwalk – or for the really brave, a First Plunge Jan.1st dip in the ocean….Brr! www.ocnj.us
Sea Isle City’s spectacular fireworks welcome 2023 with a bang at 8 PM on JFK Blvd. Beach. Bring a beach chair – and maybe a warm blanket - to watch the sky light up over the resort. www.seaislecitynj.us
New Year’s Eve dinner at The Lookout is almost a cruise ship experience – without leaving land or Cape May County. On the second floor of the Cape May Ferry terminal in North Cape May, The Lookout offers a panoramic view of sleek, lighted ferries gliding into port or leaving Cape May to cross the bay. Add delicacies from land and sea, handcrafted cocktails and your wine of choice and it’s a wonderful place to bid 2022 farewell. www.visitferrypark.com
It’s a mystery, no doubt about it. How does Santa magically appear, waving from a parade float in the West Cape May Parade, while miles away in Woodland Village he’s listening to youngsters rattle off their Christmas list, and in between he lends a hand to light giant Christmas trees. Well, it’s probably the same delightful talent that gets the jolly old elf and his sleigh from the North Pole around the world every year on Christmas Eve.
There is no better place to get into the holiday spirit than Cape May, America’s only Historic Landmark City when the resort is transformed into a Dickens village.
Garlands of fragrant greens and twinkling lights welcome visitors to this festive season beginning Nov. 18 with a preview weekend of trolley tours, productions at Cape May Stage and East Lynne Theater, shopping along the Washington Street Mall and the best restaurants this side of just about anywhere. It gets even better with the Christmas Candlelight Tours on Saturdays Dec. 3, 10 and 17, a tradition that dates to 1974. About a dozen buildings – homes, inns, churches and public buildings – are open, giving visitors a glimpse into both Victorian and modern interiors and exteriors, lavishly decorated in holiday style. It’s Cape May’s longest running and most popular tour - reserve early!
From Thanksgiving on, take tea with Mrs. Claus, board the trolley for a Lamplighter or Ghosts of Christmas Past guided tour through Cape May with a stop at the Emlen Physick Estate, adorned in true Victorian style. Join the tree lighting fun Nov. 19 and enjoy An Old-Fashioned Christmas Exhibit at the Carroll Gallery.
Stone Harbor’s Island Holiday Weekend, Nov. 25-28, includes a holiday market place, a pet parade, hospitality night and of course a tree lighting ceremony. The parade kicks off at 6:30 Nov. 26 from 107th Street onto 96th Street to Second Avenue.
The Wildwoods celebrate the holiday season with five weekends of family fun with entertainment, a Shopping Village, bonfires, a parade, craft fairs and visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
The shopping district in Ocean City becomes the Miracle on Asbury Avenue with free horse and carriage rides weekends around the downtown area, photos with Santa and First Night Dec. 31.
Avalon hosts the Festival of the Trees from Nov. 18 to 26 with beautifully decorated trees and wreaths in various themes displayed in stores for shoppers to bid on. Not in town? Bidders can preview and place bids online though a mobile app. Convenient!
After the parade Nov. 25 beginning at 31st Street and Central Avenue in Sea Isle City, don’t miss the tree lighting ceremony and other festivities at Excursion Park. Holiday events include Santa’s Calling, a lighting contest, Brunch with Santa and a live nativity event plus fireworks New Year’s Eve.
The magic returns to Congress Hall Nov. 25 with the Winter Wonderland Holiday Spectacular that includes the Vendor Village, Breakfast with Santa, Congress Hall Express Rides, a carousel and Santa’s Workshop activities. Enjoy the Christmas Cabaret or perhaps a Holiday Farm Dinner at Beach Plum Farm. For a night to remember, head to the Grand Lawn Dec. 2 to enjoy the Festival Choir and a sing along before the countdown that lights the 30-foot tree.
Check with local chambers of commerce for exact times and dates or any last-minute schedule changes.
Some holiday traditions are as timeless as tangled strands of twinkle lights, grandma’s fruitcake and Hallmark movies. Others evolve – like Ocean City’s shopping in pajamas Nov. 19 for the Earlier than the Bird extravaganza, a much better tradition than ugly Christmas sweater contests. Don’t you agree?
Shopping in Southern New Jersey is enjoyable, not stressful. Service is friendly, merchandise is unique – often hand-crafted – no supply chain issues or delivery delays. Add a quick lunch with friends or a glass of wine after a busy day for more holiday enjoyment.
Small Business Saturday, a nationwide trend, is Nov.26 , but local shoppers have always patronized small businesses owned by their friends and neighbors to support the local community where everyone enjoys a smile, a thank you and friendly hospitality.
Shopping on the Washington Street Mall and Washington Commons in Cape May, along with a few boutiques tucked away along side streets, is an adventure – and a wonderful one, at that. Decorations abound everywhere, the horse and carriages clip clop by and it’s magical. Just remember this is the season for shopping for others, not always for you. It’s difficult – we know.
In downtown Wildwoods, the Byrne Plaza will be transformed into an outdoor Holiday Shopping Village Saturday, Nov 26, featuring dozens of vendors and local artisans along with food, music, baked goods and more. Rain date Nov. 27.
Round up your BFFs and get a head start on shopping and fun in Sea Isle City during Girls Weekend Nov. 18 to 20 - shop, dine and wine plus get pampered head to toe, transported from place to place on the jitney. How great is that! The fun and bargains continue in town Nov. 26 to 28 with more discounts and hospitality.
It’s Festive Friday in Avalon so stroll Dune Drive, in and out of trendy boutiques complemented with music and children’s performances throughout the day on Friday, Nov. 25.
Stone Harbor’s Island Holiday Weekend , Nov. 25-28, includes a holiday market place, great shopping, tree lighting and a parade.
At Willow Creek Winery it’s Sip and Shop Nov. 19 – shopping is so easy with a glass of wine in hand.
Winter Wonderland returns to Congress Hall in Cape May with the Enchanted Vendor Village housed in candy cane striped tents open Thursday to Saturday starting Nov.25. Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate as the kids ride the carousel.
Looking for one-of-a-kind wristlets, messenger bags, scarves or accessories? It’s the Red Door Gallery in Woodland Village where the 15 unique shops will be open daily beginning Nov. 25, a peaceful, relaxing outdoor shopping experience.
Holiday discounts start on High Street in Millville’s Glasstown Arts District Nov. 26. Enter to win $500 in Downtown Dollars at galleries, shops and eateries. That’s a great shopping incentive!
One last bit of advice: Shop early or at least get a head start on that long list. The weeks ahead, now through New Year’s, are filled with more holiday cheer than you can imagine – and no one wants to miss a minute of the fun!
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