Group Tour Newsletter
The Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance sends out quarterly eNewsletters for group tour operators.
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The holiday spirit is
easy to catch in the Williamsburg area. What's
more, the spirit can take you almost anywhere - back
through 400 years of history or propel you into the
21st-century technology, even take you to other
countries and customs - all within an easy drive! Here
are just some of the holiday programs, events and
festivities you can experience from Thanksgiving through
Christmas and the New Year.
In this issue:
The holiday season in Colonial Williamsburg begins Nov. 26 and extends through Jan. 2, highlighted by special programs, dining, entertainment, and festive events as well as world-famous decorations. The entire Historic Area will be decked out in holiday finery. Boughs, wreaths and other decorations are creatively made from all-natural materials, including pine, boxwood, holly, magnolia leaves, and cartloads of assorted fruits, berries and nuts. "The Christmas Decorations Walking Tour" throughout December is a great way to enjoy them. At the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, 18th- and 19th-century holiday traditions will be the subject of special focus tours. Make an ornament for the collection of homemade decorations adorning the 16-foot Abby Aldrich Folk Art Tree, which you can admire in the museum central court that is surrounded by glittering silver and gold stars. Add to the holiday experience by enjoying traditional fare and entertainment in an authentic 18th-century dining tavern, choosing from the King's Arms, Christiana Campbell's, Shields and Chowning's.
A signature event of Colonial Williamsburg's holiday season is Grand Illumination, a spectacular evening when candles twinkle in the windows, wood crackles in street-side cressets, music fills the area and the heavens explode in a magnificent spectacle of low-altitude fireworks. This year's Grand Illumination takes place on Dec. 5, beginning at 4:45 p.m. with a variety of entertainment on multiple outdoor stages throughout the Historic Area. The Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums will provide 18th-century music and costumed performers will present holiday entertainment found in Williamsburg two centuries ago and today. At 6:15 p.m., candles are lit in public buildings, shops and homes, and fireworks are launched at the Governor's Palace, Magazine and Capitol. After the fireworks, entertainment resumes on the outdoor stages and continues until 7:30 p.m.
The American Bus Association named the Grand Illumination one of the Top 100 Events in North America for the year 2010. Inclusion in the Top 100 Events list recognizes that the Grand Illumination offers excellent entertainment value to both tour groups and individual travelers from around the world. ABA's elite 2010 Top 100 Events Selection Committee evaluated more than 500 diverse U.S. and Canadian events for this sought-after designation.
New in December 2010 are all-inclusive Group Holiday Packages that include admission, concerts, and tours:
Williamsburg Holiday Traditions Day-Package - Explore the many traditions that have been celebrated in Virginia over the past 400 years. Capture the holiday spirit as you stroll through the Historic Area, and attend a demonstration to learn how to make a wreath, swag, or other traditional Williamsburg holiday decorations using fresh greens and fruit.
Sounds of the Season Day-Package - From Celtic to Classical, choral to instrumental, the music of the season fills the streets and buildings of Colonial Williamsburg. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Historic Area - around every corner, discover something old or new... something destined to become part of your holiday traditions. Then attend the Crystal Carols concert where master of glass instruments Dean Shostak features crystal hand bells, glass violin, spectacular new instruments from around the world, and Benjamin Franklin's glass armonica in an amazing one-hour concert.
In time for the Thanksgiving holiday, Nov. 25-27 brings "Foods and Feasts of Colonial Virginia" to the Yorktown Victory Center, a museum of the American Revolution, with indoor exhibits and outdoor living history. Visitors to the re-created Continental Army encampment can learn how soldiers turned meager rations of dried beans, salted meat and hard bread into nourishing soups and stews. Daily artillery drills and military tactics show visitors how soldiers earned their rations. At the re-created 1780s farm, the bounty of field and garden will be transformed into stews, pies and breads daily in the farm kitchen while the fruit and vegetable harvest are preserved for the winter ahead, all using 18th-century cooking techniques and recipes.
Throughout December during "A Colonial Christmas," museum visitors can hear accounts of Christmas and winter camp life during the war, as well as assist a Continental Army quartermaster in preparing military supplies. At the farm, historical interpreters will demonstrate a variety of holiday activities, including setting a farmhouse table for a holiday feast, decorating with greenery and demonstrating fancy cooking in the farm kitchen. (www.historyisfun.org; firstname.lastname@example.org). The museum gift shop also features great holiday shopping ideas.
Historic Yorktown kicks off the holiday season
with special events that are free and open to the
public. The annual Illumination and Christmas Tree
Lighting Ceremony starts at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 3 at the
Yorktown Victory Monument, including seasonal music and
a performance of The Fifes & Drums of York Town. The
Procession of Lights, led by the Town Crier and the
fifes & drums, will step off from the Victory Monument
at 7:30 p.m., proceeding down historic Main Street to
Ballard Street and down the hill to Riverwalk Landing
for the official tree lighting ceremony.
The excitement continues Dec. 4, with the 5th Annual Christmas Market on Main Street. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., guests can enjoy musical entertainment, demonstrations, arts & crafts vendors, living history exhibits, antique classic cars, roasted chestnuts, hot cider, food and more. Then the waterfront will light up with the 14th Annual Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade. Decorated in holiday spirit, area boaters of various styles and sizes will parade the York River in competition for "Best of Show." A roaring beach bonfire will warm spirits as everyone sips hot cider and listens to festive music, including performances by the The Fifes and Drums of York Town, while awaiting this marine parade.
The sounds and aromas of the holidays will fill the area again on the morning of Dec. 11 as the Holiday Yorktown Market Day takes place atRiverwalk Landing, featuring everything from local produce and seafood to holiday baked goods and candies, plus holiday flowers, wreaths, plants and lovely soaps, candles and quality art items for gifts. The Historic Yorktown Freight Shed, a great venue for group functions, will feature a fun "Breakfast with Santa" event. Don't miss an afternoon of fun at the "Toyland Parade at Riverwalk Landing." Activities begin at 1 p.m. and the parade will start at 1:30 p.m., led by Santa and Mrs. Claus and the Fifes and Drums of York Town. Activities include face painting, storytelling, balloons, cider and hot chocolate, festive tunes and the "Riverwalk Landing Polar Express" Train! (For more information, visit www.yorkcounty.gov/tourism)
Experience the world's most beautiful theme park in an entirely different light with Christmas Town: A Busch Gardens Celebration. All-new attractions, dazzling shows and one-of-a-kind gift ideas will have everyone saying, "Now this is Christmas." Gaze at more than a million twinkling lights while enjoying hot chocolate and fresh-baked Christmas cookies. A complete Christmas Town experience includes a visit to Santa's workshop and the park's nearly 50-foot tall, light-animated Christmas tree.
Last year's debut of this holiday spectacular met with so much applause that for 2010, the park is adding additional days to its operating calendar. This year, Christmas Town opens on Nov. 26 - the day after Thanksgiving - and continues select days and evenings through Dec. 31. There are new surprises in store that will be announced soon, so stay tuned for the latest information at www.ChristmasTown.com.
Calling all choirs -- Christmas Town offers a unique stage for spreading your holiday spirit. Create lasting memories as the lead choral performing during Busch Gardens' Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony held in front of Das Festhaus during Christmas Town. For an application call (800) 343-7946 or e-mail us at email@example.com.
At Jamestown Settlement, special holiday programs give insight into how the early English settlers weathered the holiday season in early 17th-century Virginia, and how the cultures of Virginia Indians and Africans contributed to build a new society on our shores.Â During "Foods and Feasts of Colonial Virginia," Nov. 25-27, see how food was gathered, preserved and prepared on land and at sea by Virginia's English colonists and Powhatan Indians. Venison, turkey and other game roast over an open fire, while stews of corn, beans and squash cook in clay pots in the re-created Powhatan Indian village. Learn how the Jamestown colony was provisioned by hauling cargo aboard the re-created ships, and within the re-created colonial fort, learn about the English colonists' culinary skills, including baking bread and open-hearth cooking of pudding and pies based on recipes of the 1600s.
Jamestown Settlement's "Colonial Christmas" program, from Dec. 1 to Jan. 3, includes a special holiday film and guided tours to compare and contrast English Christmas customs of the 1600s with how the season may have been observed in the difficult early years of America's first permanent English colony. Holiday-themed tours will be offered several times daily to guide you through the museum's outdoor interpretive areas. 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 re-created colonial fort, you may encounter the English tradition of the Lord of Misrule, "grand captain of all mischief," who with his followers progressed through town during the Christmas holiday! The museum gift shop also features great holiday shopping ideas. (www.historyisfun.org; firstname.lastname@example.org)