There’s a special magic to the season this year and every year in Delaware, where holiday celebrations are a beloved and remarkably diverse part of the culture. The best take advantage of the state’s historic legacy – turning the Colonial village of Old New Castle into a scene from a Dickens novel, or transforming the lovely town of Lewes into a seaside celebration of light.

Others are just plain fun – a ride on an authentic steam train with Santa, or the city-wide celebration that is Newark’s Winterfest. When you’re looking for something a little more spirited to do in those weeks before the holiday hits, check out these top events:

Wilmington and Western RailroadSanta Claus Express on the Wilmington and Western Railroad
November 29 – 30, 2014
Location: Wilmington and Western Railroad, 2201 Newport Gap Pike, Wilmington, DE 19808
Times: 12:30 P.M. and 2:30 P.M.
Admission: Adults: $18.00; Seniors (60+): $17.00; Children (2-12): $16.00; Children (under 2): Free
Why stand in line at the mall and wait to see Santa, when you can ride our train and have Santa come to you? The Jolly Old Elf himself rides the train and greets everyone on board, and gives all children a chocolate treat. And he may bring Mrs. Claus with him! Be sure to bring your camera and have Santa pose for pictures with your child during this 1½-hour round-trip to Ashland.

Zoo Lights & Christmas Nights
Fridays and Saturdays, November 28 – December 27, 2014
Location: 3 Palms Petting Zoo, 924 Blackbird Forest Road, Clayton, DE 19938
Times: 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Admission: $10.00
Phone: 302-715-1326
3 Palms Petting Zoo is transformed into a celebration of lights, giving visitors a chance to get a nighttime peek at Rosie the Raccoon and Peaches the Opossum. Roast marshmallows, sip hot chocolate, enjoy holiday sounds, and whisper your special Christmas wishes in Santa's ear.

Rehoboth Beach Tree Lighting & Hometown Sing-a-longRehoboth Beach Tree Lighting
November 28, 2014
6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Bundle up and gather at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand for the annual holiday tree lighting and hometown sing-a-long.

Georgetown Christmas Parade
December 4, 2014
Begins at 7:00 p.m.
The annual Georgetown Christmas Parade ushers in the holiday season with marching bands and floats designed to represent this year’s theme of “Simply Christmas.” The Georgetown Parade has also become known as the Christmas ‘Balloon’ Parade with nearly 1,500 helium balloons expected at this year’s parade.

Downtown Milford Holiday Stroll
December 5, 2014
Times: 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Come enjoy live entertainment, visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride and sip cocoa as you stroll through downtown Milford.

Winterfest In Newark
December 5, 2014
Location: Downtown Newark, Main Street, Newark, DE 19711
Times: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
The entire family will enjoy an evening of holiday entertainment, roasting chestnuts, caroling, tree lighting and much more.

A Farmer's Christmas
December 6, 2014
Location: Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village, 866 N. DuPont Hwy., Dover, DE 19901
Times: 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: $1- $5
See a real woodworker and a blacksmith at work. Listen to carolers in St. Thomas Church and watch a live woodstove cooking demonstration in a real summer kitchen. Visit our Loockerman Landing Train Station for some ghost stories. There will be lots of holiday crafts for children to make and take home, historical craft demonstrations inside, and holiday music.

Christmas Tour of Lewes
December 6, 2014
Location: Downtown Lewes, Delaware
Admission: Advance tickets $20 each; $25 on the day of the tour. Children under 12 are free when accompanied by an adult
Times: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This self-guided tour features this lovely seaside town’s historic houses decorated for the season. Several area churches have special lunches, and the Lewes Yacht Club has lunch and an indoor Craft Fair.

Christmas in Odessa InteriorChristmas in Odessa
December 6, 2014
Location: Historic Odessa, 506 High St., Odessa, DE 19730
Times: 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Admission: $15.00 - $20.00
The Colonial-era homes of Odessa are the stars of this self-guided walking tour of private homes and public buildings decorated for the holidays. In addition to the house tour, many special events are included in the ticket price.

Sankta Lucia Celebration
December 7, 2014
Location: Old Swedes (Holy Trinity) Church, 606 Church St, Wilmington, DE 19801
Times: 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Admission: Free
In Sweden, the traditional celebration of the Feast Day of Sankta Lucia is still marked by light and music. That tradition comes alive at the annual celebration at Old Swedes Church. An authentic ceremony is accompanied by Swedish refreshments and tours of the Hendrickson House Museum, decorated for a Swedish Christmas.

Dickens Christmas historic New Castle"A Dickens Experience" in Historic New Castle
December 13, 2014
Location: Amstel House, 2 East Fourth St., New Castle, DE 19720
Times: 10 am - 4 pm
Admission: Free
The Charles Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol" comes to life on the streets of Old New Castle, featuring candlelight tours at Read House & Gardens, musical performances and other entertainment. Visitors will walk from one historic site to the next along New Castle's charming brick sidewalks, lined with festive luminaries, and may even meet a group of carolers along the way.

Milton Holly Festival
December 13, 2014
Location: Milton Fire Station, 116 Front Street, Milton, DE 19968
Times: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
The Holly Festival features fine handcrafts (in the Fire Hall and in Goshen Hall); sales of unique decorative crafts, gifts and holiday treats (by area merchants); the very popular Holiday House Tour (at 2:30); and of course a visit from Santa.

Festive Foods - Holiday Hearth Cooking Demonstrations
Saturdays from December 13 – 27, 2014
Location: Historic Houses of Odessa, Second and Main streets, Odessa, DE 19730
Times: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Imagine the crackle of a blazing fire and the delicious flavors of holiday cooking. Join the Historic Odessa Foundation for a hearth cooking demonstration featuring mouthwatering 18th century foods.