CORRECTION: An earlier version of this list gave incorrect hours for Winter WonderFest in Milton. The hours are 5 to 10 p.m. daily through Jan. 2
Christmas decorations are going up and holiday cheer is spreading fast throughout Delaware’s coastal communities.
If you’re visiting the beaches or live in one of the resort towns this season, you may need a reminder of all the festive activities happening – from visits with Santa to tree lightings to book-readings. Here’s a guide to some of the holiday events planned in towns from Lewes to Fenwick Island.
Holiday cheer: Have you seen holiday lights at Hudson Fields? That’s because Winter WonderFest is back
Meet Santa, starting Nov. 27
Santa Claus will be riding into town in style this year – with help from the Lewes Chamber of Commerce. Continuing a tradition started in 2020, Santa will ride the Cape Water Taxi into the Lewes city dock on Saturday, Nov. 27 at 12:45 p.m.
He will then walk over to his Santa House in front of Citizens Bank at the corner of Second and Bank Streets. Visitors can line up to talk to Santa at his front door, as well as deposit their letters in the mailbox next to his house.
Here’s when Santa will be available for visitors:
Saturday, Nov. 27 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 2 and Wednesday, Dec. 8 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 11 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m
Friday, Dec. 17 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 18 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 22 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Merchants’ Hospitality Night, Thursday, Dec. 2
For more than three decades, the shops and restaurants in the Historic Lewes Business district surrounding Second Street have hosted a special night of holiday shopping and entertainment on the Thursday before the Christmas parade.
This year, the celebration will be on Thursday, Dec. 2 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Cape Henlopen High School jazz band and chorus will be performing in front of Citizens Bank until 6:30 p.m. Popular musical entertainer JGar will then continue the holiday music until 8 p.m.
Also new this year: The Dogfish Inn will be hosting a beer garden, and all proceeds will go toward Lewes in Bloom to fund the group’s purchase of tulip bulbs for the spring.
Second Street will be closed to vehicle traffic from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. for the safety of shoppers and the children who are visiting Santa.
Christmas parade and tree lighting, Saturday, Dec. 4
One of the most festive spectacles, the Lewes Christmas parade is back this year.
The parade lineup takes place from 3:30-4:15 p.m. and the parade begins at 5 p.m.
After the parade, the tradition has been to illuminate the Christmas tree in Zwaanendael Park followed by candlelight caroling in the park, led by Christy Taylor. The tree lighting ceremony will commence shortly after the last parade entry passes by the judges’ reviewing stand in the park.
Santa on the boardwalk, starting Friday, Nov. 26
Santa’s House is back on the end of Rehoboth Avenue this year, and the jolly guy is ready to hear all the Christmas wishes. Visitors should remember to bring their camera and while there is no fee, donations are encouraged.
Here’s when you can see Santa in Rehoboth:
Friday, Nov. 26 from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 27 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 4 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 5 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 18 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 19 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. (Dogs may visit Santa at his house from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.)
Tree lighting and holiday sing-along, Friday, Nov. 26
The City of Rehoboth Beach will welcome the holiday season with a tree lighting at 6:30 pm at the Bandstand. This event is free and open to the public.
This year’s beautifully shaped tree was donated by Rehoboth Beach area residents Rick and Tammy Smith.
THE TREE: This Rehoboth Beach couple’s tree will light up the Bandstand. But who planted the tree?
Holiday Farmers Market, Saturday, Nov. 27
The Rehoboth Beach Farmers Market will have a special holiday market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Grove Park, at the intersection of Dover and Kent streets.
Christmas parade, Monday, Dec. 6
The Rehoboth Beach Hometown Christmas Parade will be presented by the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 6.
All parade participants and attendees are invited to the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Station Museum after the parade for Santa’s Christmas Party for refreshments. Children can visit Santa Claus for a small gift.
Sip & Shop, Friday, Nov. 26-Sunday, Nov. 28
Find local homemade gifts at this holiday market in Dewey Beach through Black Friday weekend. The Developing Artist Collaboration hosts artist vendors, local breweries and musicians on the bayside of Dagsworthy Street.
WHAT TO KNOW: Homemade gifts, free beer and live music: Where to shop local this holiday in Dewey Beach
Dewey tree lighting, Saturday, Nov. 27
The Dewey Business Partnership is hosting the tree lighting at Fifer’s Market and Chicago Street from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
The event, including parking, is free to the public. Food will be available at reduced cost, as well as beverages, music, bonfires and a Dewey gift card tree. Santa arrives at 6:15 p.m.
Dewey Ball Drop, Friday, Dec. 31
Celebrate the New Year with the Dewey Business Partnership on the evening of Friday, Dec. 31.
Holiday Happenings, Saturday, Dec. 4
Festivities start in Bethany with storytime at 10:30 a.m. The local mother-daughter writing team, Carol and Cori Burcham, will be reading their new book Goodness Gracious Golly Gee I Forgot My Christmas Tree! at the Nature Center, 807 Garfield Parkway.
Santa will be at Town Hall from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. to take photos with children. Sunshine the Clown will also be there to do AirBrush body art.
Families can enjoy hot cocoa, cookies and a station for children to write letters to Santa. Trolley rides through downtown and beach tractor rides will run from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. A second trolley will be available to transport attendees to and from the event at Bethany Beach Books, Grotto Pizza (next to the Nature Center) and South Coastal Library until 6:00 p.m.
The tree lighting will take place on the Bandstand Plaza at 5 p.m. A special concert will feature the Southern Delaware School of the Arts Show Choir.
Attendees are encouraged to bring hats, gloves, scarves and canned goods to be donated to local charities. Those who cannot attend the event can watch it on the west view beach cam on the town website.
Weekend Wonderland, Dec. 4, Dec. 11, Dec. 18
Looking to do some holiday shopping? The Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce and participating businesses will offer special activities and incentives between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on the three Saturdays leading up to Christmas: Dec. 4, Dec. 11 and Dec. 18.
Go caroling, Saturday, Dec. 11
South Bethany is hosting a caroling event by trolley.
The festive First State Trolley will pick up carolers at Town Hall starting at 3 p.m. and then roll through town spreading holiday cheer. Check the town website for more details on how to reserve a seat.
Tree lighting in Fenwick, Saturday, Dec. 4
Fenwick Island will host a tree lighting, caroling and festive gathering. The lighting will begin at the Fenwick Gazebo at 6 p.m., and refreshments will follow inside the town hall.
The town encourages people to bring their own beverages and finger foods, either hors d’oeuvres or desserts to share. People should also bring a flashlight or lantern.
Other big holiday events to note
Winter WonderFest, starting Friday, Nov. 19
This drive-thru light spectacular returns to Hudson Fields in Milton from Nov. 19 through Jan. 2.
Festival of Cheer, Inc., hosts this holiday fundraiser each year. Car passes are $20 Monday-Wednesday and $25 Thursday-Sunday, as well as Dec. 24 and Jan. 2.
People can visit this spectacle from 5 to 10 p.m. daily.
For more, visit https://wonderfestde.org.
Schellville, starting Saturday, Nov. 20
The first-ever Schellville festival, hosted by the homebuilding company Schell Brothers, will open Saturday, Nov. 20 through Friday, Dec. 31.
Admission is free, and people can make reservations online at https://schellbrothers.com/promotions/schellville.
The festival includes activities for kids and adults of all ages, ranging from snow machines to roller skating under twinkling lights to a beer garden and local holiday shopping.
Emily Lytle covers Sussex County from the inland towns to the beaches. Got a story she should tell? Contact her at [email protected] or 302-332-0370. Follow her on Twitter at @emily3lytle.
This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Our guide on how to celebrate the holidays at the Delaware beaches