Cape May’s 45th annual Victorian Weekend will highlight the city’s Victorian architecture and history with a long weekend of house tours, walking tours, history programs, food and wine events, a crafts and collectibles show, murder mystery dinners, trolley tours and more Thursday through Monday, Oct. 5-9.
Presented by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities, a nonprofit organization that promotes the preservation, interpretation and cultural enrichment of the regionVictorian Weekend is about exploring the past and appreciating the present of this National Historic Landmark city.
Here is a sampling of the tours and events offered. To purchase tickets or for information about events call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278 or see capemaymac.org.
Thursday, Oct. 5
Kick off Victorian Weekend noon-2:30 p.m. with Victorian Vices at Nauti Spirits, a new event at Nauti Spirits Distillery in North Cape May. Guests travel by trolley from the historic district to the distillery for a talk by Elan Zingman-Leith and a cocktail demonstration. Admission is $18. Beverages extra.
Transport yourself to a time when entertainment was theatrical, sassy, and teased the imagination at the Spectacular Burlesque Extravaganza 8 p.m. at The Chalfonte Hotel in the King Edwards Bar. For mature audiences. Admission is $25. Light fare and beverages will be for sale.
Friday, Oct. 6
A Walk with the Ghostwriter is a one-hour walking tour of the haunted streets of historic Cape May with psychic medium and ghost writer Craig McManus. Hear stories about the houses where he has sensed paranormal activity. Offered 6 and 9 p.m. Admission is $25.
Saturday, Oct. 7
On the Underground Railroad Trolley Tour 2:15 p.m. riders will hear how legendary anti-slavery fighter Harriet Tubman walked the streets of Cape May, as how former slave Stephen Smith’s railroad cars carried hundreds to freedom. Includes guided tour of the Owen Coachman house (a historic free black’s house) by David Clemans, who restored it. Admission is $15.
Historic Inns, private homes and restaurants offer chocolate delicacies for visitors to taste as they tour properties on the Chocolate Tasting Tour 1-3 p.m. Admission is $20 for adults and $15 for children age 3-12.
Learn about Italian wine from Sicily, Tuscany, Piedmont and other regions at the Cape May Wine School 1 p.m. at the Washington Inn, 801 Washington St. Admission is $40.
Visit Cape May County wineries and sample the wines of each on the Cape May Wine Trail 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tour begins with a trolley ride from the Physick Estate to Willow Creek Winery in West Cape May for a wine tasting, then heads back to the to the Carriage House Café & Tearoom for lunch, followed by a trolley ride to Natali Vineyards in Goshen for more wine tasting. Admission is $60.
Take a trip back to the 1930s and the days of the rum runners and see if you can solve the mysterious death in the family of a mobster in “Clueless at the Physick Estate: “Rum for Your Life” 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at the Emlen Physick Estate. Admission is $18 per person.
Sunday, Oct. 8
Crafters and collectibles dealers from throughout the region will sell their wares at the annual Crafts & Collectibles Show 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on the lawn of the Emlen Physick Estate. Admission is free, and free parking is available.
Savor seven plated courses of chocolate desserts and hear how each was created from the chef who prepared it at the Chocolate Lovers Feast 1 p.m. at the Blue Rose Inn. Admission is $40.
Stroll Dr. Emlen Physick’s neighborhood on tree-lined Washington Street, hear about the families who lived there and the architecture of the homes, and explore why he chose to live in this area of Cape May on Dr. Physick’s Neighborhood Walking Tour 2 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for children. Combine the tour with lunch or afternoon tea noon-4 p.m. at the Emlen Physick Estate on Dr. Physick’s Neighborhood Walking Tour & Café Combo; admission is $20.
Retired U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad W. Allen will present the lecture “Always Ready: Stories of Leadership and Unity During Crisis” 4 p.m. at Cape May Convention Hall, 714 Beach Ave. Guests can meet Allen at reception after the lecture 5:30 p.m. at The Mainstay Inn. Tickets are $40 for the lecture and $70 for the lecture and reception.
Get to know Dr. Emlen Physick at The Dr. Is In 10 a.m.-4 p.m. A re-enactor will talks about Victorian cures for medical ailments and share his uniquely Victorian view of the world.
See inside a selection of private cottages and homes not normally open to the public on the Private Homes Tour 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Admission is $20 for adults and $15 for children 3-12.
Monday, Oct. 9
Learn about Victorian mourning jewelry and customs including the cameo and hairwork jewelry at the Cameo Appearances & Brunch 10 a.m. at the Carriage House Café & Tearoom at the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St. 10 a.m. Presented by Thomas Tear. Guests are welcome to bring jewelry pieces for identification (not appraisal). Admission is $30.
View Cape May from a builder’s perspective at the Behind the Walls & Under the Crawls Trolley Tour and hear about the technological advances of the era and how things worked. One-hour guided trolley tour begins 1 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children ages 3-12.
Play the parlor games Victorians played, including charades and “pass the slipper”at An Evening of Victorian Parlor Games 7 p.m. at the Physick Estate. Victorian dress is encouraged. Cost is $15 for nonmembers $12 for MAC members and $15 for nonmembers and includes dessert and coffee or tea, or bring a beverage of your choice.
Murder Mystery Dinners by John Alvarez let guests interact with the actors and help solve the mystery. “Marriage and Other Crimes” runs 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Oct. 6-8 at Aleathea’s Restaurant at The Inn of Cape May, 7 Ocean St. Cost is $50 for adults and includes four-course dinner; $25 for children ages 3-12.
Historic Haunts House Tours of the Physick Estate that include a discussion of Victorian spiritualism are offered 7:45 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Oct. 6-8. Admission is $12 for adults and $8 for children. Combine this tour with the Ghosts of Cape May trolley tour for a the Historic Haunts Combo Tour offered at 7:15 p.m. Cost is $22 for adults and $14 for children.
East Lynne Theater Company presents “A Year in the Trenches” based on Charles Edward Dilkes’ book “Remembering World War I: An Engineer's Diary of the War” and other historical sources. Live music from the period is performed throughout. Show runs through Oct. 14 (No show Oct. 4) at the First Presbyterian Church, 500 Hughes St. tickets are $17-$32. For show times see eastlynnetheater.org.
Scarecrow Alley is a highlight of the Physick Estate’s Halloween decorations. Walk the grounds and vote for your favorite ghoulishly gruesome or foolishly funny scarecrow. Runs through Oct. 30. Admission is free.
Ben Miller, author of the book "The First Resort," gives visitors a look at storms that have ravaged Cape May in the exhibit “Cape May's Stormy Past: From the Pages of the First Resort" open daily in the Physick Estate Carriage House, 1048 Washington St. (times vary). Admission is free.
Guided tours of the 1879 Emlen Physick Estate are offered daily. This year’s theme is “Let’s Go Shopping! Victorian Consumer Culture.” Admission is $12 for adults and $8 for children. Combination Trolley/Physick Estate Tours leave from the Washington Street Mall information booth. Admission is $22 for adults and $14 for children.
Search for clues and discover answers to questions on the grounds at the Physick Estate Scavenger Hunt. Purchase a packet for $5 that includes a clues sheet and explore the estate grounds as a family or group. Available daily year-round.
Discover the fun of exploring Cape May and uncovering its architectural elements from a kid’s perspective with the Cape May Family Treasure Hunt. Packet is $5 and contains a clues sheet and map for a self-guided discovery tour (answers included). Packet is available daily in the Hill House office at the Physick Estate.
Cape May Stage presents “Outside Mullingar,” a romantic comedy set in rural Ireland about an introverted farmer who is pursued by a neighbor, Wednesday through Sunday through Nov. 10 at The Robert Shackleton Playhouse at the corner of Bank and Lafayette streets. Admission is $18-$38. For show times see capemaystage.org.