A Colonial Christmas
December 1-31, 2016
“A Colonial Christmas” at Jamestown Settlement and American Revolution Museum at Yorktown offers a glimpse of 17th- and 18th-century holiday traditions through interpretive programs and demonstrations. Festivities abound December 23-31, with daily appearances at Jamestown Settlement by the Lord of Misrule and period musical entertainment on December 26-31.
“A Jamestown Christmas” holiday film and special interpretive programs compare and contrast English Christmas customs of the period with how the season may have been observed in the difficult early years of America’s first permanent English colony. In 17th-century England, the holiday season – extending from December 25 to January 6 – was a time of merriment and feasting.
Throughout the month, visitors to the outdoor living-history areas can learn about the Jamestown colony’s early years as well as the English colonists’ Christmas at sea in December 1606, and the Powhatan Indian hospitality shown to Captain John Smith’s trading party in 1608 during a winter storm. In the re-created Powhatan Indian village, historical interpreters will present ongoing demonstrations on typical winter activities, including food preservation and hunting tools and techniques.
In the re-created fort, visitors can see wattle-and-daub buildings decorated with greenery and demonstrations of fancy cooking and, at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. December 23-31, experience the 17th-century English tradition of by the Lord of Misrule, “grand captain of all mischief.”
In the fort church, visitors can enjoy 17th-century musical entertainment at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. December 26-29 and December 31, featuring fiddler David Gardner and Barry and Lynn Trott.
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown
Hear accounts of Christmas and winter in military encampments during the American Revolution and glimpse holiday preparations on a Revolution-era farm. Visitors to the Continental Army encampment can learn about winter camp life and hear accounts of Christmas during the war, as well as assist the quartermaster in preparing military supplies and observe artillery demonstrations.
At the clapboard farmhouse adorned with greenery, historical interpreters compare and contrast 18th-century holiday traditions with those of modern times and demonstrate a variety of holiday activities, including setting a farmhouse table for a holiday feast. Visitors can see open-hearth cooking in the farm kitchen and take part in periodic candle-dipping activities.
On December 26-31, visitors can enjoy 18th-century musical entertainment at 12 and 2 p.m. Performances include The Itinerant Band on December 26 and 31, the Fifes and Drums of York Town on December 27, 28 and December 30, and fiddler David Gardner on December 29.
Holiday Tickets, Tours & Packages
A value-priced combination ticket to both museums is $21.25 for adults and $10.75 for ages 6-12. Admission to Jamestown Settlement is $17.00 for adults and $8.00 for ages 6-12, and to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, $9.75 for adults and $5.50 for ages 6-12. Children under 6 are free. Admission for residents of James City County, York County and the City of Williamsburg. Parking is free at both museums.
A History is Fun combination ticket – available online only – offers seven days of unlimited admission to both museums at $21.25 for adults and $10.75 for ages 6-12 and includes coupon booklets for Williamsburg Premium Outlets and the Historic Yorktown Rewards Card.
A private tour with a premium Christmas theme can be added to any admission ticket for an additional fee and advance reservations for a party of 14 or fewer people. Premium themed private tours include “Tales of Yuletide” at Jamestown Settlement and “Provisions Scarce” at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.
Holiday Shopping in Museum Stores
In time for holiday shopping, museum gift shops offer a selection of books, prints, museum reproductions, educational toys, games and souvenirs relating to the 17th and 18th centuries. Admission is not required to visit the museum gift shops, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.