The holidays are upon us, which means the calendar is packed with events that are sure to light up your December! Here’s wishing you the happiest of holidays!
1.Christmas Spirit Light Show
Through December 31 | Clipper Magazine Stadium
Enjoy hundreds of thousands of color-changing lights from the warmth of your car as you traverse a mile-long route. Tune into the show’s radio station and watch the lights “dance” to Christmas classics. Tickets (per vehicle) can be pre-purchased online or at the entry booth. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Water Street Mission. The light show operates through December 31.
In addition to the light show, you can also enter the stadium to enjoy Christmas Tree Lane (December 1-23), where 100 decorated trees will represent local nonprofit organizations. Purchase votes for your favorite trees and each will count as a donation to that tree’s charity. Event features photos with Santa, a toy drive (Tuesdays), festive food and drink and more. Reindeer will even make an appearance on Thursdays! Hours for both events are Sun.-Thur., 5:30-9:30 p.m. and Fri. & Sat., 5:30-10:30 p.m.
Also returning is the Dashing Through the Lights 5K on December 15 (10 p.m.) Run the 5K or stroll the mile-long route dressed in Christmas attire. Prizes will be awarded.
Through December 31 | Lititz
Fans of holiday lighting displays have been flocking to Lititz for the last 10 years to take in the show at the Laurel Avenue home of Rich and Wendy Motz. Sadly, in a July 28 Facebook post, the Motzes announced that after this year, the elaborate display will be scaled back. “We will have a display going forward, but not to the level that we have [been doing],” Wendy explains, adding that she and Rich “hope this year will be the best ever.” The reason the Motzes are scaling back has to do with the fact that the display has become very labor intensive, requiring a 3-month set-up time, a month to operate/maintain it and another month to disassemble it. Over the course of the last 10 years, the Motzes have won several decorating contests. Last year, drone footage of their display appeared in two movies, including Three Wise Men and a Baby, which broke all sorts of viewership records on the Hallmark Channel. They’ve also given back to their community by forwarding donations they’ve received to the Lititz Fire Company. Laurel Avenue Lights will once again be hosting a zip-code-wide decorating contest that is sponsored by Lititz Springs Park and Venture Lititz (look for tour maps in early December). To see the Laurel Avenue Lights display, follow the glow in the sky from November 25 to December 31 (5:30-10:30 daily) that will take you to 659 Laurel Avenue in Lititz.
3. A Longwood Christmas
Through January 7 | Kennett Square, Chester County
A Very Retro Christmas is the theme of this year’s holiday event at Longwood Gardens. Nostalgia will define this year’s event, as trees will sparkle with baubles from Christmases past and shimmer with old-fashioned tinsel. Retro toys will be on view and an area in the Conservatory will be decked out to welcome guests to a mid-century Christmas party as only the designers at Longwood can create. A vintage Christmas street scene is sure to inspire guests to reminisce about the good old days! As for the grounds, lighting displays will only add to the magical trip back in time. Music, dancing fountains, workshops and more fill the holiday calendar.
Information: Timed tickets are required, visit longwoodgardens.org or 610-388-1000.
Through January 7 | Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Looking for a fascinating day trip? Just an hour’s drive from Lancaster, you will discover Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, the legendary estate of Henry Francis du Pont. Now the home of one of the largest and most comprehensive Americana collections in the country, the galleries are hosting a tribute to Black fashion designer Ann Lowe, who learned how to design and sew from her once-enslaved grandmother, as well as her mother. Lowe (1898-1981) fashioned a career through which she created gowns for members of the Social Register. Her most famous creation was undoubtedly Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding gown, which was recreated by the University of Delaware’s Katya Roelse and students enrolled in the Fashion and Apparel program for the exhibit. Otherwise, the 39 other Lowe gowns/dresses on view are originals. A portion of the exhibit is devoted to modern-day Black designers such as Michael B, who is represented by a gown he designed for the Met Gala. Running in conjunction with the Lowe exhibit is Yuletide at Winterthur. 5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, Delaware.
Information: winterthur.org or 800-448-3883.
5. Strasburg Tree Lighting & Holiday Home Tour
The holidays kick off in Strasburg on Friday night, with a tree lighting, carol singing, brass band, a bagpiper, refreshments and an appearance by Santa. The event will be held on the Strasburg Borough Lawn (Precision Ave.) at 6:30 p.m.
On Saturday, seven Strasburg-area homes/buildings of varying ages will welcome visitors for this 12th-annual tour. All will be decked out for the holidays. Pictured is the Olde Village Inn, a stop on the tour. Dating to the 1740s, it is one of the oldest grist mills in the country. Over time, it has served many purposes, including a woolen mill, an electric power plant and even a residence. Daryl and Dianna Stoltzfus purchased it in January 2023 and have spent the past year renovating it to serve as an events venue. Also, be sure to visit the First Presbyterian Church (South Decatur Street), where you can purchase tickets, food, greens and crafts and participate in a silent auction. Sponsored by the Strasburg Heritage Society, the tour is a major fundraiser, with proceeds benefiting the organization’s efforts to educate the public about the area’s rich cultural heritage and the advantages of preserving it. Tickets purchased by December 1 are $20 and are available at Speckled Hen Coffee, Main Street Antiques or online at strasburgheritagesociety.org. Day-of tickets are $25.
6. The Nutcracker Ballet
December 1-3 | High Performing Arts Center
The Viktor Yeliohin International Ballet Academy will mark a milestone with the upcoming 30th anniversary performances of The Nutcracker Ballet. The story of Clara and her beloved gift, a nutcracker, was written by E.T.A. Hoffman in 1816. The story was adapted to ballet in 1892, with Pyotr Tchaikovsky writing the musical score. Since then, the ballet has been performed the world over at holiday time. In honor of the Lancaster anniversary, Yeliohin has invited several Ukrainian professionals, as well American dancers, to join the 100 local dancers who represent 10 dance schools across Lancaster County. In addition, many of the former dancers who performed as Clara are being invited to take part in a recognition ceremony. Friday, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, 1 & 6 p.m. Sunday, 2 p.m. High Performing Arts Center, Lancaster Mennonite High School.
Information: Tickets range from $27 to $40 and can be purchased at vyballet.com or by calling 1-610-924-3663. They can also be purchased at the door. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Ukrainian dancers affected by the ongoing war.
December 2 | Mount Joy
Mount joy is celebrating 25 Years of Winterfest this year. Sponsored by Members 1st Federal Credit Union, the community is invited to gather and celebrate the holiday season in Downtown Mount Joy. Main Street will be closed from Market to Barbara streets for this event. Visit Santa at the Sheetz Funeral Home, enjoy live music on Main Street, and sample goodies at the food court on Delta Street. The Church of God will be hosting a children’s area that includes a petting zoo, small shoppers shop, train ride, face painting and coloring contest. The retail shops will be open for holiday shopping, while various businesses, churches and nonprofit organizations will have tables set up along Main Street. The annual tree-lighting will get underway at 5 p.m. This year’s event is being organized by the Rotary Club of Mount Joy, the Lion’s Club, Voyage Mount Joy, Kiwanis International and Friends of Donegal. 2-5 p.m.
8. Marietta Candlelight Tour of Homes
Marietta Restoration Associates hosts one of the oldest continuous holiday home tours (57 years) in Pennsylvania. From 11 a.m.-7 p.m., eight private homes, as well as historical buildings – all decorated for the holidays – will welcome visitors. Tickets can be purchased in advance ($20) at area businesses as well as online at mariettarestoration.org. Day-of tickets are $25. Free parking and a convenient shuttle service will be available. In addition to the tour, an Artist Showcase will be held. Lancaster Recumbent and McCleary’s Public House will also be sponsoring carriage rides (provided by Benchfield Farms) from 12-7 p.m. Rides are $25 per carriage if purchased by December 2 or $30 for walk-up purchases. Carriages comfortably accommodate up to four people. Pick-up and drop-off are located at Lancaster Recumbent on Market Street.
Information: For the tour, mariettarestoration.org or 717-426-4048. For the Carriage Ride, lancasterrecumbent.com/event/holiday-carriage-rides or 717-448-8464.
9. The Phantom of the Opera
December 8-30 | EPAC
As a follow-up to EPAC’s wildly popular 2021 production of Les Misérables: School Edition, Andrew Lloyd Weber’s world-famous and iconic, The Phantom of the Opera (Young Performers Production), will take to the stage in December. Love, passion and horror all descend on an 1800’s Parisian opera house as Christine, a young soprano, becomes the obsession of an enigmatic and phantasmic musical genius, who seeks to make her his protege. Filled with widely acclaimed music that has defined the musical theatre genre for nearly 40 years, The Phantom of the Opera will serve as yet another showcase for the extraordinary youthful talent that is found in our area. 320 Cocalico St., Ephrata.
10. Wolf Sanctuary of PA Full Moon Fundraiser Tour
Dedicated to the Cold Moon, the event will feature a roaring bonfire (weather permitting) and educational tours. Along the tour route, guides will provide information on the wolves that reside at the sanctuary, as well as facts and information about wolf conservation and biology. Bring a blanket, a flashlight, a chair and maybe something warm to drink (non-alcoholic beverages only). Reservations recommended. 7 p.m. 465 Speedwell Forge Rd., Lititz.
Information: wolfsanctuarypa.org or 717-626-4617.
11. The Magic of John Williams
December 29 & 30 | Gardner Theatre
The Lancaster Symphony Orchestra will pay tribute to John Williams, a composer, conductor and pianist who is regarded as the master of providing movies with music that is not only highly recognizable but is critically acclaimed. After almost 50 years, the two opening notes of the theme from Jaws still possess the power to terrorize people! Over the course of 60-plus years, Williams has worked with an array of film directors, notably Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. He has won 25 Grammys, 5 Oscars, 4 Golden Globes and 7 British Academy Film Awards. The symphony will perform music from Star Wars, Harry Potter, ET, Home Alone, Superman, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones and more! Friday, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. The Gardner Theatre at Lancaster Country Day School, 725 Hamilton Road.
12. Tribute to the King
December 31 | Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
Ring in 2024 by traveling back in time and rocking out to the music of the King, Elvis Presley. Back by popular demand, award-winning impersonator, Dwight Icenhower, backed by The Promised Land Band, is regarded as one of best Elvis tributes in the country. There is a lunch buffet and show that begins at 11:30 a.m. The evening event gets underway at 7 p.m. with an upscale buffet (appetizers to dessert), party favors, a 9 p.m. show and a midnight Champagne toast. 510 Centerville Rd.
Information: dutchapple.com or 717-898-1900.