Visit America’s Historic Triangle during the holidays where old traditions take on a new twist. There are historic houses with circles of greenery dotted on doors and windows, a winter wonderland of sparking lights, roasted chestnuts in an open-air market and much more. The jingling of real bells on horse drawn carriages will get you in the spirit, and you might even want to march with the colonial fifes and drums corps and let the crisp early evening chill envelope you. How about a new perspective on Christmas? We’ve got that too —- learn about Christmas through a Jamestown settler, battle-weary Revolutionary War Soldier, or even a colonial farmer.
Christmas Town: A Busch Gardens Celebration. Holiday traditions, dazzling shows and one-of-a-kind gift ideas will make everyone say, “Now this is Christmas.” Gaze at more than five million twinkling lights while enjoying Busch Gardens’ signature peppermint fudge hot chocolate. A complete Christmas Town experience includes a visit to Santa’s workshop and the parks’ 50-foot tall, light-animated Christmas tree with computerized lights that dance and change color during special evening light shows. Afterward, gather the family for a traditional Christmas feast and live musical show inside Das Festhaus where performers sing and dance to everyone’s favorite holiday music.
Busch Gardens guests to Italy will experience the flair of an Italian Christmas, featuring a golden color scheme and the inspiring production of Miracles in Il Teatro di San Marco. New in 2011, Italy is home to Polar Pathway, featuring cascading waterfalls of lights and one-of-a-kind photo opportunities. Christmas Town offers some of the best dining and shopping in Virginia—from local artisan-produced wares at Mistletoe Marketplace to Busch Gardens’ custom and authentic gifts found throughout the park. Guests who just want to take in the view can climb aboard “Flight of Lights,” and take a relaxing tour above the park’s lighted canopy. Christmas Town opens Nov. 25 and will continue, select days through Dec. 31.
Enjoy old traditions and new programs that create a Colonial Williamsburg Christmas Experience. See the skies over the Historic Area alight with aerial displays during the holiday favorite Grand Illumination, on Dec. 4, when musical performances begin at 5:15 p.m. and fireworks at 7 p.m. Celebrate Queen Charlotte’s birth night and the christening of newborn Lady Virginia with Lady Dunmore’s Ball at the Governor’s Palace (Dec. 10). Enjoy all of your returning favorite programs and even new ones, like a Holiday Memories Shadow Puppet Show (Dec. 27, 29, at 10:30 a.m.).
See two classic Christmas stories brought to life with The Twelve Days and Nights Before Christmas, at the DeWitt Wallace Museum (10:30 a.m.). Experience the stirring ceremony Firing of the Christmas Guns – a tradition dating back to the 18th-century in which guns are fired in salute to the Christmas season as an expression of joy and celebration – complete with the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums (5 p.m.). Then witness a modern holiday tradition with the Community Christmas Tree Lighting in Market Square (5:30 p.m.). Continue the holiday magic with An Evening with Dickens at the Williamsburg Lodge. Gerald Charles Dickens, the great-great-grandson of Charles Dickens, offers an unforgettable one-man retelling of A Christmas Carol staged during an elegant buffet featuring world-class cuisine (7 p.m.). Colonial Williamsburg offers a variety of dining options for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Walk off that fulfilling meal with our Christmas Decorations Walking Tour, a guided look at the Historic Area buildings and streets decked in their holiday splendor. Visit www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/holidays for more information.
During “A Colonial Christmas” at Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center, holiday traditions of 17th- and 18th-century Virginia are recalled through special interpretive programs and, December 26-31, period musical entertainment. A Jamestown Settlement holiday film and guided tours – with periodic appearances by the “Lord of Misrule” – compare and contrast English Christmas customs of the period with how the season may have been observed in the difficult early years of the Jamestown colony. At the Yorktown Victory Center, visitors hear accounts of Christmas and winter in Revolutionary War encampments and glimpse holiday preparations on a 1780s farm. Visitors to the Continental Army encampment can learn about winter camp life and hear stories of Christmas during the war, assist the quartermaster in preparing military supplies and observe artillery demonstrations. See farm interpreters decorate with greenery, prepare special dishes on an open hearth and set a farmhouse table for a holiday feast and, Dec. 26-31, listen to songs and sounds of Christmas.
Historic Yorktown holiday events begin December 2 with its annual Christmas Tree Lighting, a tradition that began in 1945. Get into the Christmas spirit with music by The Fifes and Drums of York Town at the Yorktown Victory Monument, festive music at Riverwalk Landing, a procession of lights through the historic village, and the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus.
While searching for that perfect gift, enjoy roasted chestnuts and hot cider and musical entertainment at Christmas Market on Main on December 3, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Afterward at 6 to 8 p.m., see the waterfront bedazzled with holiday lights, caroling, music and cider while watching the Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade. On December 4, “Cookies with Santa” allows children and parents a chance to visit with Santa, enjoy treats and shop for gifts in The Gallery at York Hall.
On December 10, Yorktown Market Days, a Saturday morning market, is followed by a 1 p.m. Toyland Parade. Take part in the festivities by decorating a stroller or wagon, or even yourself, and fall in line for the 1:30 p.m. parade. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand to greet the guests, Mrs. Claus will host her own storytelling show, and Yorktown’s “Polar Express” will be chugging along through Riverwalk Landing.
Yankee Candle Village is a magical place to shop and visit during the holidays. Santa will in his workshop daily where visitors can sign his “good” or “not so good” list, and capture special photo moments with the jolly, old elf himself. You can take a stroll through Holiday Park, where it snows inside every day, see the 25-foot Christmas tree and sing along with Hickory, Dickory & Doc while shopping for collectables and ornaments from around the World. Enjoy a Holiday Open House on November 4, Santa’s Arrival on November 12, and Christmas Tree Lighting on November 20.
On December 3, Berkeley Plantation begins its monthlong “Centuries of Christmas” with a Christmas Wreath and Workshop and Tour. Through January 1, the 1726 mansion will be beautifully decorated with fresh greenery from Berkeley’s gardens. Costumed guides will add a special touch to your holiday season with stories of Christmas at Berkeley through four centuries of history. The special workshop begins with a tour of the manor house, beautifully decorated with fresh arrangements and wreaths cut from Berkeley’s boxwood, cedar and holly trees, followed by a 1 p.m. wreath-making workshop creating your own Berkeley wreath. Reservations required for the workshop at 888-466-6018.
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