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Historical holiday happenings


The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be sponsoring nine special events, including four winter-holiday-themed activities, between Nov. 28, 2019 and Jan. 1, 2020. A full schedule is included below. All programs are free and open to the public.

The Johnson Victrola Museum will present “Holidays With Victor” on Dec. 7, 2019.

Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019
Thanksgiving Day. All museums of the State of Delaware (the John Dickinson Plantation, the Johnson Victrola Museum, the New Castle Court House Museum, The Old State House and the Zwaanendael Museum) will be closed. 302-744-5054.

Friday, Nov. 29, 2019
Day After Thanksgiving. All museums of the State of Delaware will be open: The Johnson Victrola Museum and The Old State House, open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; the John Dickinson Plantation, New Castle Court House Museum and the Zwaanendael Museum, open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.

Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019
“Hospitality Night.” Holiday-themed program in which the museum will be decorated for the season by the Sussex Gardeners including luminarias lighting the entrance walkway. Activities will include historical interpreters, demonstrations, music and seasonal refreshments. Presented in partnership with the Lewes Chamber of Commerce. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 5–8 p.m. 302-645-1148.

Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019
“Holidays With Victor.” Guided tours examine holiday music recorded by Victor Records accompanied by 78-rpm records played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. First Saturday in the First State program. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3262.

Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019
“The First State.” Guided tours explore Delaware’s ratification of the U.S. Constitution and its legacy as the first state to enter the union. First Saturday in the First State program. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.

Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019
Delaware Day awards ceremony. Event honors participants in the Delaware Department of State’s 18th annual Delaware Day Fourth Grade Competition which challenges students to create displays that help illustrate and explain the U.S. Constitution and the role played by Delawareans in the writing and ratification of the nation’s founding document. Delaware Public Archives, 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Dover. 10 a.m. 302-744-5000.

Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019
“Tour Zwaanendael Museum.” Enjoy the museum’s festive holiday-décor created by the Sussex Gardeners. Event held in conjunction with the Lewes Historical Society’s Christmas Tour of Lewes. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. 302-645-1148.

Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019
“Delaware Valley Archaeology and History Symposium.” Featuring presentations on the history and archaeology of the lower Delaware Valley that include new research and recent updates to on-going projects including Avery’s Rest and the search for Fort Casimir. Presented in partnership with the Archaeological Society of Delaware and the New Castle Historical Society. The Arsenal, 30 Market St., New Castle. 9:30–3:30 p.m. 302-322-2794.

Illustration of Fort Casimir
Image of Fort Casimir after it had been captured by the Swedes, improved and renamed Fort Trefalddighet. The fort will be one of the topics explored at the “Delaware Valley Archaeology and History Symposium” on Dec. 7, 2019.

Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019
CANCELLED: Buena Vista Holiday Open House. One-day-only event featuring tours of one of Delaware’s most historic homes decorated for the holidays, refreshments in the library and a hands-on activity for children and adults. Buena Vista: A Delaware Country Estate, 661 S. Dupont Highway (Route 13), New Castle. 10 a.m.–1 p.m. 302-323-4430. NOTE: Event cancelled.

Friday, Dec. 13, 2019
Grey Fox Band. Blues ensemble presented in partnership with the Delaware Friends of Folk and the First State Heritage Park. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. 7:30 p.m. 302-744-5054.

Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019
Spirit of Christmas in New Castle.” One of the best preserved Colonial-era towns in America features a day-long series of events including tours of decorated historic homes, re-enactments, programs at museums including the New Castle Court House Museum, crafts, musical entertainment and more. Downtown New Castle. 9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. 302-328-3279.

Photo of New Castle Green in snow
The New Castle Green with the New Castle Court House Museum in the foreground. The historic town will host the “Spirit of Christmas in New Castle” on Dec. 14, 2019.

Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019
Demonstrations by the Thistledown Fiber Arts Guild. Program explores spinning, weaving, knitting and other fabric arts. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 1–3 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Photo of the mansion house at the John Dickinson Plantation
Mansion house at the John Dickinson Plantation

Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019
Christmas Eve. The following museums of the State of Delaware will be open: The Old State House, open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; the John Dickinson Plantation and New Castle Court House Museum, open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. The Johnson Victrola Museum and the Zwaanendael Museum, closed.

Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019
Christmas Day. All museums of the State of Delaware (the John Dickinson Plantation, the Johnson Victrola Museum, the New Castle Court House Museum, The Old State House and the Zwaanendael Museum) will be closed. 302-744-5054.

Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019
New Year’s Eve. The following museums of the State of Delaware will be open: The Old State House, open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; the John Dickinson Plantation and New Castle Court House Museum, open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. The Johnson Victrola Museum and the Zwaanendael Museum, closed.

Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020
New Year’s Day. All museums of the State of Delaware (the John Dickinson Plantation, the Johnson Victrola Museum, the New Castle Court House Museum, The Old State House and the Zwaanendael Museum) will be closed. 302-744-5054.

Administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the five museums of the State of Delaware—the John Dickinson Plantation, the Johnson Victrola Museum, the New Castle Court House Museum, The Old State House and the Zwaanendael Museum—tell the story of the First State’s contributions to the history and culture of the United States. Through tours, exhibits, school programs and hands-on activities, the museums shine a spotlight on Delaware’s unique history and the diverse people who came to live there. The museums are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The New Castle Court House Museum and the John Dickinson Plantation are partner sites of the First State National Historical Park. The Old State House is located on the Dover Green, another partner site of the park. Go to the following for a comprehensive, long-term calendar of division-sponsored events.

Photo of the American Alliance of Museums accreditation logo


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