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A Colonial Christmas

December 1, 2014 - January 4, 2015

“A Colonial Christmas” at Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center offers a glimpse of 17th- and 18th-century holiday traditions with special tours and interpretive programs and, December 26-31 and January 2-4, musical entertainment of the period.
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Jamestown Settlement
Jamestown Settlement English Lord of Misrule

The 17th-century English tradition of the Lord of Misrule unfolds in Jamestown Settlement’s fort beginning December 6.

“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. Little is known about Christmases at Jamestown, but it is likely there were few celebrations other than church services to mark the holiday. 

Daily orientation tours of the museum’s outdoor living-history areas will be offered at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. during “A Colonial Christmas.” Visitors will learn about 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 fort, visitors can see wattle-and-daub buildings decorated with greenery. Beginning December 6, fort visitors can experience the English tradition of the Lord of Misrule, “grand captain of all mischief,” at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and, December 21-31, also at 4 p.m.

Throughout the month, historical interpreters will discuss the English colonists’ Christmas at sea aboard the re-created ship Discovery, and present trade demonstrations in the re-created Powhatan Indian village.

Yorktown Victory Center

Yorktown Victory Center farm holiday tableHear accounts of Christmas and winter in military encampments during the American Revolution and glimpse holiday preparations on a 1780s 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, at 11:05 a.m. and 3:05 p.m. daily, 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.

Holiday Tickets, Tours & Packages

A value-priced combination ticket to both museums is $20.50 for adults and $10.25 for ages 6-12, a 20 percent savings on individual museum admission. Admission to Jamestown Settlement is $16.00 for adults and $7.50 for ages 6-12, and to the Yorktown Victory Center, $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 for the Holidays combination ticket – available online only – offers seven days of unlimited admission to both museums at $20.50 for adults and $10.25 for ages 6 through 12 and includes coupon booklets for Williamsburg Premium Outlets and the Historic Yorktown Rewards Card. The History is Fun for the Holidays vacation package starts at $199 for two nights’ lodging in the Williamsburg area and three days of unlimited admission for two adults to Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center.

Private Tours

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 Yorktown Victory Center.

Holiday Shopping in Museum Stores

In time for holiday shopping, museum 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.