Christmas in Cape May – One of America’s Best Towns for the Holidays 2015

Cape May, NJ – This month, Cape May grabbed a spot in a Travel and Leisure magazine list of the 25 best American towns for the holidays.

How did those 25 towns get on the list? Among the East Coast picks, the magazine gushed about the extensive holiday lights in Annapolis, Myrtle Beach and Newport, Rhode Island.

Beaufort, North Carolina got points for its “twinkling light strewn boat parade.”  Nantucket scored with its “dozens of seven foot Christmas trees” and Ogunquit, Maine got recognition for its Christmas by the Sea Festival, with beach bonfire.

In Cape May, the magazine cited two annual events: Washington Street Mall’s Hospitality Nights and Congress Hall’s family friendly winter wonderland.

Hospitality Nights

This year, shops in Cape May hold their annual hospitality nights on Thursday and Friday, December 10th and 11. The tradition of offering shoppers food and drink on those nights has extended beyond the Washington Street Mall in recent years.

While it’s fun to mix and mingle with fellow shoppers, there are a few more must do’s in the Cape May area during the holidays that Travel and Leisure overlooked. Here are a few of our favorites:

West Cape May Christmas Parade

This colorful, always fun community Christmas Parade celebrates it’s 50th anniversary this year.  You will see Philadelphia String Bands mixed in with the many fine, local high school musicians. Firetrucks with flashing lights and floats from local groups and businesses head down Broadway in West Cape May at 5PM sharp.   Eventually – key word eventually – the parade winds through the entire town. Like clockwork, the parade takes place on the first Saturday of December every year.  This year, that’s December 5.  West Cape May Christmas Parade photos.

Congress Hall and Rotary Park Christmas Trees

For a small town, we do have some striking Christmas trees. Congress Hall never fails to impress with its towering Rockefeller Center-like specimen, lit with old fashioned tree lights. Make sure to visit at night to get the full effect. Same with Cape May’s “official” Christmas tree in the Rotary Park Bandstand. The bandstand tree gives you a different feeling entirely – that of a small town Christmas celebration. And Wilbraham Park in West Cape May always comes up with some inventive holiday decorations.

Cape May Holiday Theater

You can see not one but two holiday theater productions in Cape May.  Every year,  Cape May Stage presents a new  holiday play. Catch this year’s production  A Cape May Christmas Thursday through Sunday evenings all through December. East Lynne Theater presents The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus on selected evenings from November 27 to mid December.

Holiday Lights

Some local bed and breakfast inns still go all out with their holiday decorating. (Make sure to check the corner of Columbia and Franklin streets, for instance.) But, to see the biggest home holiday light display in the area, you have to cross the Cape May Canal and head to Petticoat Creek Lane. Two sisters have teemed up to turn their family home into a mecca for anyone craving outrageous holiday lights. If this doesn’t satisfy your holiday light craving, nothing will.  Holiday Lights on Petticoat Creek Lane.

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About Jane Kashlak

Jane Kashlak - a journalist, gardener and Cape Island resident - is writing a book.