Christmastide in Virginia
December 19-31, 2020
“Christmastide in Virginia” at Jamestown Settlement and American Revolution Museum at Yorktown offers a glimpse of 17th- and 18th-century holiday traditions through interpretive programs and demonstrations. Enjoy festive fun with period musical entertainment at both museums.
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 town, 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 learn about the 17th-century English tradition of the Lord of Misrule, “grand captain of all mischief.” Visitors can enjoy traditional Christmas carols and periodic dancing with periodic musical performances.
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 observe periodic 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 and decorating with greenery. Visitors can see open-hearth cooking and watch as period dishes are made in the farm kitchen. Visitors can also enjoy the sounds of Christmas through traditional carols and musical performances.
Special event activities are made possible in part by the York County Arts Commission and the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc. Annual Fund.
Holiday Tickets, Tours & Packages
In 2020, a value-priced combination ticket to both museums is $27.50 for adults and $13.50 for ages 6-12. Admission to Jamestown Settlement is $17.50 for adults and $8.25 for ages 6-12, and to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, $15.25 for adults and $7.75 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 $27.50 for adults and $13.50 for ages 6-12.
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.