WILLIAMSBURG, Va., December 5, 2013—History makes the holidays fun at Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center during “A Colonial Christmas,” December 1, 2013, through January 5, 2014. The month-long event explores 17th- and 18th-century holiday traditions with interpretive programs and, from December 26 through 31, musical
|A Yorktown Victory Center historical interpreter sets a holiday table in the re-created 1780s farmhouse.|
entertainment of the period.
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 Powhatan Indian village, 1607 ships and colonial fort at Jamestown Settlement, and Continental Army encampment and 1780s farm at the Yorktown Victory Center.
“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 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.
Orientation tours of the museum’s outdoor living-history areas are offered at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. daily. Visitors will learn about Jamestown colony’s early years as well as the English colonists’ Christmas at sea in December 1606, the Powhatan Indian hospitality shown to Captain John Smith’s trading party in 1608 during a winter storm, and about the Lord of Misrule, an English tradition.
In the re-created fort, visitors can see wattle-and-daub buildings decorated with greenery and periodic demonstrations of fancy cooking. Beginning December 7, fort visitors can experience riddles and revelry by the Lord of Misrule, “grand captain of all mischief,” at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. daily and, from December 14 through 31, also at 4 p.m.
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.
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 candle-dipping activities.
Period Holiday Music
In Jamestown Settlement’s re-created fort church, visitors can enjoy 17th-century holiday music at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. December 26-31 and January 2-5, including David Gardner playing fiddle December 21, 24, 27 and 28 and January 3-5; Barry and Lynn Trott on mandolin, guitar, flute and viola da gamba December 22, 29 and 30; and Jim Holloway on recorder and pipe and tabor December 28; and Jim and Anna Holloway on recorder and pipe and tabor December 23 and 26. On December 31 and January 2, visitors can join Rebecca Suerdieck in learning a simple dance or two of the period.
At the Yorktown Victory Center, farm visitors can enjoy 18th-century musical entertainment December 26-31 with daily performances at 11:35 a.m. and 3:35 p.m. Musical performers include Dan Jackson on guitar and recorder December 26-27 and 30-31, the Itinerant Band with music from the British Isles December 28, and David Gardner on fiddle December 29.
Tickets & Private Tours
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.
Christmas-themed private tours are available for an additional fee with advance reservations for a party of 14 or fewer people. Reservations can be made online or by calling (757) 253-4939.
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 6-12 and includes coupon booklets for Williamsburg Premium Outlets and a Historic Yorktown Rewards Card.
Holiday Shopping in Museum Stores
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.
How to Get Here
Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily year-round, except for Christmas and New Year’s days. The museums are separated by a 25-minute drive along the Colonial Parkway, a National Scenic Byway. Jamestown Settlement is located on Route 31 just southwest of Williamsburg. The Yorktown Victory Center is located on Route 1020 in Yorktown. Parking is free. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free, (757) 253-4838.