A Colonial Christmas
December 1, 2015 - January 3, 2016
“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. Festivities abound December 24 and December 26-31, with musical entertainment of the period and daily appearances at Jamestown Settlement by the Lord of Misrule.
“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.
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 and see demonstrations of fancy cooking. At 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on December 19-24 and December 26-31, fort visitors can experience riddles and revelry by the Lord of Misrule, “grand captain of all mischief.” Throughout the month, historical interpreters will discuss the English colonists’ Christmas at sea aboard the re-created ship Susan Constant and, in the re-created Powhatan Indian village, present demonstrations on typical winter activities, including food preservation and hunting tools and techniques.
Yorktown Victory Center
Hear accounts of Christmas and winter in military encampments during the American Revolution and glimpse holiday preparations on a Revolution-period 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 a.m. and 3 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.
Period Holiday Music & Entertainment
In Jamestown Settlement’s re-created fort church, visitors can enjoy a variety of 17th-century holiday music and dancing at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. on December 26-31, including fiddler David Gardner, Barry and Lynn Trott, and Rebecca Suerdieck. Additional performances will be offered December 19 and 20, December 26-28 and December 31.
At the Yorktown Victory Center, enjoy sounds of Christmas with the Cigar Box String Band at 11:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. on December 19 and 20. The group will share stories, festive music and dance tunes from American history. The Fifes and Drums of York Town present regimental Christmas music in the re-created Continental Army encampment at 12 noon and 2 p.m. on December 26-28 and December 30-31. Jessica Carcich performs a variety of stringed instruments at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. December 26, 27, 28 and 30.
In Yorktown Victory Center’s lobby, Norm and Barbara Fuss will sing Christmas carols of the 18th century at 1 and 2:30 p.m. December 29 and 30 and invite visitors to join along.
See the full lineup of period musical performances.
Holiday Tickets, Tours & Packages
A value-priced combination ticket to both museums is $21.00 for adults and $10.50 for ages 6-12 (2016: $21.25 adults; $10.75 ages 6-12). Admission to Jamestown Settlement is $16.75 for adults and $7.75 for ages 6-12 (2016: $17.00 adults; $8.00 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 $21.00 for adults and $10.50 for ages 6-12 (2016: $21.25 adults; $10.75 ages 6-12) 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 $232 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.
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 Yorktown Victory Center.
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.
“A Colonial Christmas” is funded in part by a grant from James City County.