Holiday tours LancasterHistory

This year marks the return of two more holiday tours in the Lancaster County region plus new events at LancasterHistory's Wheatland.

This holiday season, you can tour a president’s home and a governor’s mansion.

You can see homes built around 1800 and a home newly rebuilt after a devastating fire.

Aside from the homes and decorations, there are chances to learn about past holiday traditions, hunt for candy canes with kids and join a jolly trolley tour for adults only.

Many tours paused during the pandemic or shifted outdoors. This year marks the return of two more tours in the Lancaster County region.

In Strasburg, the holiday tour is back for the first time since 2019. Aside from sharing decorating tips and raising money for the Strasburg Heritage Society, the tour is a nice way to bring together the community, says Lorna Mentzer, a tour committee member.

“It’s a very nice get-together and it gets people tuned up for the holidays,” she says.

Read on for more information about nine holiday house tours plus a few outdoor tours.

Wheatland

Yuletide at Wheatland

What: Tour President James Buchanan’s Wheatland decorated for the holidays and learn more about Buchanan and Christmas traditions during the mid-Victorian era.

When: Tuesday, Nov. 22 through Dec. 30, tours are Wednesday through Saturday every 60 minutes starting at 10 a.m. The final tour starts at 3 p.m. Additional tours will be Dec. 19 and 26. No tours Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Tickets: $17 for ages 14 and older. $8 for ages 6-13. Buy tickets at lancasterhistory.org/yuletide or by calling 717-392-4633. A family pass (two adult and two child tickets) is $40. Advance tickets are highly recommended.

Information: Lancasterhistory.org/yuletide

Did you know? Lancasterhistory has two new family-friendly holiday events. At Campus of History Cheer, 5-7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, enjoy luminaries and holiday lights throughout LancasterHistory’s grounds. Local groups will sing Christmas carols and holiday songs from around the world. Family-friendly first-floor tours of Wheatland are available.

Candy Canes and Cocoa is 10-11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10. Hunt for candy canes across LancasterHistory’s campus, learn about Yuletide traditions, read about Hanukkah traditions and make a holiday craft. For children 10 and under. Tickets are $5 per child. Adults are free. Buy tickets at lancasterhistory.org/candycane.

Tickets for the yuletide tour at Wheatland include admission to LancasterHistory’s museum exhibits, including “Lancaster in the ’60s.”


Holiday Open House

What: Mount Hope Estate and Winery will be decorated for Christmas. The historic mansion will be open for self-guided tours 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

When: Nov. 25-27, Dec. 3-4 and Dec. 10-11

Tickets: Admission is free.

Information: lanc.news/MHHoliday (where there’s a 360-degree tour of the decorated home)

Did you know? The mansion’s also the site of holiday dinner theater through Dec. 23 with performances Fridays and Saturdays, plus select Sundays and weekdays. This will be the final public holiday dinner theater shows. “A magical new outdoor event is being planned on the grounds of the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire for the 2023 Christmas Season,” the site shared online.



Strasburg Holiday Home Tour

What: Back after a pandemic break, tour eight homes plus historic buildings in Strasburg. The tour benefits Strasburg Heritage Society.

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3

Tickets: $20 advance (up to Dec. 1) at Speckled Hen or Main Street Street Antiques or strasburgheritagesociety.org. Day-of: $25 at the First Presbyterian Church and Fellowship Hall, 101 S. Decatur St., Strasburg.

Information: strasburgheritagesociety.org

Did you know? Stop at the First Presbyterian Church and Fellowship Hall to see craft vendors and holiday greens. Local Girl Scouts will have coffee and pastries in the morning and lunch later in the day.


Marietta Candlelight Tour of Homes

What: Tour eight homes plus historic buildings in Marietta. Benefits Marietta Restoration Associates.

When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4

Tickets: Advance tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Mariettarestoration.org and local businesses listed on the group’s website. Tickets are $25 the day of the tour at Donegal Intermediate School, Old Town Hall Museum and First National Escape Bank.

Information: Mariettarestoration.org

Did you know? This is the 56th annual tour and some visitors have attended for decades. This year, the tree-lighting ceremony (at Old Town Hall) moved from the day of the tour to its usual date: Saturday before the tour.


Women's Club of Manheim Holiday Tour of Homes

Manheim Holiday Tour of Homes

What: After a year break and a year outdoors, the tour’s back inside at five homes plus a historic church and two businesses. Benefits the Women’s Club of Manheim.

When: 12:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4

Tickets: $10 in advance at Longenecker's Hardware, Shaub's Dry Cleaning and Divine Consign. The day of the tour, tickets are $12 and sold at the five homes on the tour.

Information: Facebook.com/WomensClubofManheim

Did you know? One of the homes on the tour was destroyed by a fire last year. The owners just moved in to their newly built home. They still wanted to be on the tour, opening their house to a community that shared love and support.


Governor's residence.jpg

Governor's Residence Holiday Tours

What: After a pandemic break, the governor’s residence is open for holiday tours.

When: Self-guided tours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 5-9 and Dec. 19-23. Docents will be on-site to answer questions.

Tickets: Registration is not required and the tour is free.

Information: residence.pa.gov/Tours

Did you know? A holiday open house is Sunday, Dec. 11, 1-6 p.m. during Harrisburg’s candlelight house tour. The residence will have musical entertainment, cookies and cocoa.


Zimmerman Center Open House

What: Tour the center in Wrightsville, decorated for the holidays. Take a winter hike, visit the outdoor nature space and watch cooking demonstrations in the 18th-century hearth, which has a squirrel tail oven.

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9; Saturday, Dec. 10, and Sunday, Dec. 11

Tickets: Free. S'mores kits are available for purchase.

Information: susqnha.org

Did you know? Saturday, Dec. 10 visit Columbia Crossing River Trails Center across the river in Columbia to make tree ornaments from natural materials. The suggested donation is $4 per person, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Christmas Candlelight Tour

What: Tour the 1792 Johannes Mueller House and the museum next door to learn about Mueller holiday traditions of Lititz’s Moravian community in the 18th century.

When: Friday, Dec. 9. Starting at 5 p.m., tours will be offered every 20 minutes. The final tour begins at 8:20 p.m. Pre-registration is required.

Where: Lititz Historical Foundation, 145 E. Main St.

Tickets: $5 per person. Pre-registration is required in-person at the museum Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. or by calling 717-627-4636.

Benefits: Lititz Historical Foundation

Information: Facebook.com/LititzMuseum or call the museum at 717-627-4636, Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Did you know? Traditionally, the decorations inside the home are natural: pine, holly, sage and chestnuts. Moravian stars outside light up the night.


Lantern Tours

What: Student historians will lead theatrical tours of some of the historic buildings at Ephrata Cloister. This year’s program focuses on the wedding plans of one of the site’s sisters and a man working for the brothers.

When: Tuesday, Dec. 27 through Friday, Dec. 30. Tours start at 6 p.m. and continue every 30 minutes. The last tour starts at 8:30 p.m.

Tickets: $10 for adults, $9 for seniors 65 and older, $7 for ages 6-17 and $5 for children age 3-5. Tickets usually sell out. To buy tickets, call 717-733-6600 or buy online at ephratacloister.org.

Benefits: Ephrata Cloister

Information: ephratacloister.org

Did you know? Tour Ephrata Cloister by candlelight open house, Saturday, Nov. 26, 5-8 p.m. ($7 per person age three and older, tickets online or at 717-733-2592). The Christmas at the Cloister musical program will be Monday, Dec. 12, and Tuesday, Dec. 13, with performances at 6:30 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $7 and will be available online or at the museum store, 717-733-2592. Guided tours are not available on days with nighttime activities.

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