Trees, trees and more trees. Walking through Winterthur trees is all I see. Fairy trees, flower trees, traditional trees and even a snow tree. When it comes to the holidays, this du Pont property does not go half way, and if you need to add some extra cheer into your season, Yuletide at Winterthur is the place to visit.
As the weather turns crisp and the leaves start to fall, you know it is time for Yuletide at Winterthur (pronounced Winter-tour) once again. This beautiful property, once owned by Henry Francis du Pont, is home to the premiere museum of American decorative arts, with 175 rooms and 1000 acres of woodlands and meadows. The house transforms into a vision of Christmas past and gives you a glimpse of life when du Pont lived there and celebrated the holidays with his family.
Although older children are welcome to the estate, this is an adventure best saved for a girlfriends’ outing or a couple’s day trip. Join a guided tour (the only way to see the house) to take in the Christmas season with the du Pont family, or what they would have experienced when they lived there in the early to mid-1900s. Catch a glimpse of the family opening gifts by the fireplace or a displaying of gifts given to the ladies of the house from gentlemen relatives calling on New Years day. A table set for a luxurious holiday feast is a real treat to gaze upon as you wonder why you aren’t in your evening gown and invited to attend.
Thirteen trees fill the rooms and halls of this beloved home near Newark, Delaware, and are really the shining stars of the day. One of the best known trees, the dried-flower tree, is set up in a different part of the house every year, and this year will be displayed in the conservatory, where it will be a “living tribute of flowers and blooming plants,” according to Winterthur.com. The dried-flower tree boasts over 60 varieties of flowers, most of which are flowers taken from the property. Other trees you will see on the tour celebrate rotating exhibits at the museum. Past exhibits include the costumes of Downton Abbey and an exhibition of Tiffany Glass, but yearly visitors are sure to see a few of their old favorites in the house every visit.
Once you are through with your tour, make sure you visit the expansive grounds of the property. Adults, as well as children, love the Enchanted Woods, which brings garden living down to child size. The gardens, many of which were designed by du Pont himself, are most magnificent in the spring and summer, but a stroll inside the Sundial Garden and along the Pinetum can help you shred a few calories and breath in that crisp winter air.
To get the most out of your visit, plan on enjoying lunch in the cafeteria-style dining room or get cozy at the Cottage Café. Stay late on a few select nights to enjoy the Yuletide Wine and Jazz series, where you can buy a glass of wine or beer to pair with your fruit and cheese. Admission is free for anyone who enjoyed a Yuletide tour or you can purchase tickets for the event separately.
No matter who you take to Yuletide at Winterthur this holiday season, you are sure to walk away inspired to create your own Christmas magic. You may also have to go home and redecorate your tree. Don’t fret. These Christmas tree mavens are experts at what they do, and they are thrilled to show off their vision every year just for you.
Know before you go
- Winterthur, 5105 Kennett Pike (Route 52), Winterthur, DE 19735
- Yuletide dates: late November through early January. Check website for exact dates.
- Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 10:00 am–5:00 pm. Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
- Dining? Yes, the Visitor’s Center Garden Café and the Cottage Café.
- Stroller? Yes, but only on the grounds.
- Child-friendly? Yes, on the grounds. Older children are welcome in the house, but please make sure they are old enough to respect the rules and not touch anything in the house. Toddlers are not allowed nor do you have the cash to replace anything they may break along the way. Trust me. This is not a place you want to bring your little ones. Your sanity will stay intact if you grab a sitter for this outing.