WILLIAMSBURG, Va., December 2010— History makes the holidays fun at Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center during “A Colonial Christmas,” December 1-January 3, 2011. The two living-history museums tell the story of our nation’s beginnings throughout the year with extensive gallery exhibits and historical interpretation in re-created outdoor settings.“A Colonial Christmas” offers a glimpse of 17th- and 18th-century holiday traditions during special tours and interpretive programs and new this year, from December 26 through 31, musical entertainment of the period. Songs and sounds of the season will be performed during the week by musicians on fiddle, guitar, fifes and drums, recorder, hurdy-gurdy, and pipe and tabor.
Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia, and the Yorktown Victory Center, a museum of the American Revolution, present artifact-filled gallery exhibits and historical interpretation and hands-on activities in outdoor re-created settings – a Powhatan Indian village, 1607 ships, colonial fort and riverfront discovery area at Jamestown Settlement, and Continental Army encampment and 1780s farm at the Yorktown Victory Center.
At Jamestown Settlement, “A Jamestown Christmas” holiday film and special guided tours 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. Holiday-themed tours, beginning each day at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m., will guide visitors through the museum’s outdoor interpretive areas. Among the highlights, visitors will learn about the English colonists’ first 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 1610-14 re-created fort, visitors can see wattle-and-daub buildings decorated with greenery. At 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., and 4 p.m. on December 20-31, visitors will encounter the Lord of Misrule, an English tradition in which “grand captain of all mischief” and his followers progressed through town with riddles and revelry during the Christmas holiday. Fort visitors can enjoy 17th-century holiday musical entertainment at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. December 26-31, including David Gardner playing fiddle December 26-29 and Jim and Anna Holloway on recorder, hurdy-gurdy, and pipe and tabor December 30-31.
At the Yorktown Victory Center, hear 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.
From December 26 through 31, camp visitors can enjoy 18th-century musical entertainment during daily performances at 11:35 a.m. and 3:35 p.m. Musical performers include members of The Fifes & Drums of York Town December 26-27, Dan Jackson on guitar and recorder December 28-29 and 31, and David Gardner on fiddle December 30.
>At the clapboard farmhouse adorned with greenery, historical interpreters will 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 also can see demonstrations of open-hearth cooking in the farm kitchen.
Holiday events included in general admission; online tickets and packages available. Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily year-round; closed Christmas and New Year’s days. Savings of close to 20 percent are available with a combination ticket: $19.25 adults, $9.25 ages 6-12 (2011: $20.00 adults; $10.00 ages 6-12). A “History is Fun for the Holidays” combination ticket purchased online is valid for seven days of unlimited admission. Individual admission to Jamestown Settlement is $14.00 for adults and $6.50 for ages 6-12 (2011: $15.50 adults; $7.25 ages 6-12). Yorktown Victory Center admission is $9.50 for adults and $5.25 for ages 6-12. An annual pass to both museums is $35.00 for adults and $17.50 for youth. Additional holiday ticket and package options are available with other Williamsburg area attractions. Parking is free.
In time for holiday shopping, Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center 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.
Holiday programs are funded in part by grants from James City County and the York County Arts Commission.
Jamestown Settlement is located on Route 31 South (2110 Jamestown Road) at the Colonial Parkway, 10 minutes southwest of Williamsburg. The Yorktown Victory Center is located on Route 1020 (200 Water Street) in Yorktown. The museums are separated by a 30-minute drive along the scenic Colonial Parkway. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838, or visit hif.ciniva.net.