Back in the day
Candles lighting the winter darkness… a warm fire on the hearth… a mug of hot mulled cider and fresh-baked snickerdoodles… The holiday season pulls us back in time perhaps more than any other time of year with traditions that span centuries. Special evening tours at several area historic sites help visitors recall this joy of Christmas past.
It’s not every day that we get the chance to see Monticello at night or at our own pace. On December 13 and 14, visitors have the rare opportunity to wander through the big house on the little mountain at their leisure. Interpreters will be present in each room for those who want to know more, and live period music will be performed in the parlor. Complimentary cider and sweets will be served there to lure you to the Museum Shop, just in case you need to do a little holiday shopping.
Just down the road from Monticello, Michie Tavern offers a Yuletide Feast in the tavern’s Ordinary, also on December 13 and 14. An 18th-century aura will be in the air with period decorations of fresh greens and fruit, and strolling musicians will serenade guests as they dine by candlelight. Advance reservations are required for the feast that includes a variety of Virginia favorites.
Michie Tavern also hosts an open house at the Original Tavern from 5-9:30pm on the same nights. Visitors can join in singing traditional carols by candlelight with Tavern musicians. Mr. Michie’s apprentice will serve tankard drinks and period refreshments from the 18th century tap bar as living history interpreters and storytellers entertain guests. Admission to this party is free.
The Frontier Culture Museum offers a more rural experience of Christmas with Holiday Lantern Tours and Plays. Vignettes performed by costumed interpreters allow guests to visit with families in Germany in the 1720s, Northern Ireland in the 1730s, England in the 1690s, and the Shenandoah Valley in the 1850s to get a sense of how our ancestors might have celebrated the holidays.
Reserve tickets in advance for Monticello Holiday Evening Tours. $10 adults, $5 children ages 6-11. Thomas Jefferson Parkway (Rt. 53). 984-9844. monticello.org. Two seatings are offered each evening for Michie Tavern’s Yuletide Feast at 6pm and 8pm. Also on Thomas Jefferson Parkway. 977-1234. michietavern.com. Reservations are also required for the Frontier Culture Museum Tours on December 14 and 15, 19-23, and 26. Tickets are $10.50 adults, $6 children 12 and under. Rt. 250 west in Staunton. 540-332-7850. frontiermuseum.org.