If the busy streets of Philadelphia aren’t “over the river and through the woods” enough for your liking this yuletide season, you might want to decamp for an evening, a day or even a whole weekend to the more idyllic and picturesque surroundings of Bucks County for some much-needed holiday cheer. The nearbycountryside towns and hamlets are the perfect escape for some memorable holiday shopping, events and sightseeing.
Your average mall or shopping center has nothing on the independent mom-and-pop stores when it comes to charm and uniqueness, which is why you should take in the Holiday Season at Peddler’s Village (Routes 202 and 263), the 18th-century-style shopping village in the heart of Bucks County. Through Jan. 3, you can bask in the glow of 1-million holiday lights while you visit with Santa at Giggleberry Fair, check out the Annual Gingerbread Competition and Display or attend the Christmas Festival Dec. 6-7. For more information, visit www.peddlersvillage.com.
For locally produced hand-crafted holiday items that look like they jumped straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting, check out Christmas at Byers’ Choice (4355 County Line Road, Chalfont), through Dec. 26, where you can enjoy cookies and warm beverages while you take in the sights. Also, during Nativity Weekend, Dec. 5-6, you can marvel at more than 250 nativity scenes from around the world in the Creche Room, as well as listen to the great-great-grandson of Charles Dickens performing a reading of the classic “A Christmas Carol.” For more information, visit www.byerschoice.com.
There is no shortage of events in Bucks County this holiday season for the kids and the kid in you.
The North Pole Express on the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad (32 W. Bridge St.) allows the little ones to live out their Christmas fantasies and hop aboard the titular locomotive for an unforgettable journey. They can wear their coziest pajamas and relax on the heated, vintage passenger coaches that will whisk them on a magical trip to the North Pole to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus. For more information, visit www.newhoperailroad.com.
The little ones will probably love A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place (100 Sesame Road, Langhorne), which runs every weekend through Dec. 31. The family-friendly amusement park comes alive with three special Christmas shows, rides, music and the illuminated Neighborhood Street Party Christmas Parade. For more information, visit www.sesameplace.com.
If you’re in search of events and sights that are a bit more historic, you can get medieval for the holidays at Mercer Museum (525 E. Court St., Doylestown) and Fonthill Castle (84 S. Pine St., Doylestown), Bucks County’s two concrete castles, built by Henry Mercer more than 100 years ago. On Dec. 9, Mercer Museum partners with the neighboring James A. Michener Art Museum for a Holiday Open House, with free admission to both institutions. Also, through Jan. 4, you can stop by the Mercer Museum to visit “Under the Tree: A Century of Holiday Trees and Toys” exhibit. For more information, visit www.mercermuseum.org.
Another historic-themed holiday haunt is the Holiday House Tours and Craft Show at the Pearl S. Buck House & Historic Site (520 Dublin Road, Perkasie). Through Dec. 30, you can take a holiday tour of the farmhouse once lived in by the Nobel- and Pulitzer Prize-winning author and see the house’s Festival of Trees. Also through Dec. 7, you can check out the annual Holiday Craft Show, featuring wares from the region’s best artisans and crafters. For more information, visit www.pearlsbuck.org.
THE ANNUAL CHRISTMAS DAY CROSSING RE-ENACTMENT AT WASHINGTON CROSSING HISTORIC PARK, HOLIDAY LIGHT SHOW AT SHADY BROOK FARM
If you want to witness some history firsthand, check out the Annual Christmas Day Crossing Rehearsal (Dec. 7) and Reenactment (Dec. 25) at Washington Crossing Historic Park (1112 River Road, Washington Crossing). Witness history on the shores of the Delaware River with a re-enactment of General George Washington’s daring river-crossing on Christmas Night 1776. Attendees can also watch more than 200 re-enactors row across the river in the same style of Durham boats Washington used in 1776. For more information, visit www.washingtoncrossingpark.org.
If you need some full-blown good old-fashioned holiday pageantry to lift your spirits, check out the Holiday Light Show at Shady Brook Farm (931 Stoney Road, Yardley), where you can be dazzled by millions of lights illuminating acres of farmland and take a horse-drawn carriage ride through light displays filled with your favorite holiday characters. You can also take the tour in the comfort of your own vehicle, but come on! Unlike the historic tours of downtown Philly, this type of trek is meant for more flesh-oriented horsepower. For more information, visit www.shadybrookfarm.com.
Another must-see spectacle is the Bucks County Visitor Center’s (3207 Street Road, Bensalem) Holiday Treefest, featuring 25 uniquely themed holiday trees lighting up the Main Gallery through Jan. 6. Each tree showcased is designed by a local business or nonprofit organization and visitors can browse the trees while enjoying musical entertainment and visit with Santa Claus himself. Pets are welcome for photos on select dates. For more information, visit www.visitbuckscounty.com.
What are you waiting for? Get out of town this holiday season and make some memories.