While Virginia is known as a wonderful destination for history lovers any time of the year, with its various historic sites and homes that are open for public tours and visitation, experiencing these attractions during the holidays is a unique and wonderful experience. During the holiday season, Virginia’s historic sites join in on seasonal festivities and offer visitors the opportunity to experience decorations and traditions of holiday’s past. Scroll on to learn about some of the historic places you can visit this season for the ultimate holiday experience! From Northern Virginia, Richmond, Central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, there are festivities for everyone to enjoy this winter. Experience Christmas light displays, seasonal parades, festive decorations, historic holiday cheer and more throughout Virginia Wine Country. To help you plan your holiday season, we’ve curated this list of the best Historic Holiday Tours.
Yuletide at Agecroft Hall & Gardens
This holiday season, the historic estate of Agecroft Hall & Gardens will open to the public for Yuletides at Agecroft. The property has its roots in Tudor and early Stuart England as this 16th century manor house and estate was shipped to Virginia in the 1920s. Today, the estate and gardens are open to the public for historical tours highlighting Tudor history. Yuletides at Agecroft invites visitors to experience the holiday season across three different eras: England in 1640, London in 1860 and Richmond in 1942. Self-guided tours are complete with authentic holiday decorations from the 1600s-1940s. The incredibly beautiful Agecroft Hall is located near the trendy Carytown district in Richmond. Click here for specific dates, times and hours for Yuletide at Agecroft Hall & Gardens.
Colonial Williamsburg Holiday Festivities
There are unlimited ways to spend the holidays in Colonial Williamsburg of Virginia. One of the most popular historic sites in the entire country, it is little surprise that it is the perfect place to visit with family this most magical time of year. Festivities kick off with the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony complete with live musical performances and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. The holiday cheer continues with the annual Lighted Boat Parade, a homemade craft fair featuring local artisans, a seasonal Mistletoe Market and grand illuminations over the capital building. Historic holiday happenings at Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum in Yorktown offer a glimpse into 17th and 18th-century holiday traditions. Click here for specific dates, times and hours for Holiday Festivities in Colonial Williamsburg.
Frontier Culture Museum Lantern Tours
Join the Frontier Culture Museum this holiday season for their annual guided Lantern Tours. A popular attraction near Staunton in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, it is open 364 days a year and the perfect place to stroll. These festive tours are complete with skits performed by costumed interpreters in the museum’s many exhibits, including the English, Irish and German houses. The Frontier Culture Museum tells the story of the thousands of people who settled in colonial America. This winter, visitors have the unique opportunity to learn about these people and their colonial holiday traditions. Click here for specific dates, times and hours for Lantern Tours at Frontier Culture Museum.
A Gilded Age Christmas at Maymont
For the holiday season, Richmond’s Maymont will be fully decorated and open to the public for self-guided audio tours through New Year’s Day. The 100-acre historic Victorian country estate and park once belonged to James Henry and Sallie May Dooley. Today, the estate serves as a historic example of a Gilded Age Estate. This winter, guests are further invited to create their own festive holiday decor at seasonal Wreath Workshops complete with fresh evergreen clippings from the estate. Later this holiday season, you can experience historical holiday magic at the Merry Market. This two-day festival and artisan market features 50 local artisans, a festive holiday bar, cozy fire pits and live music. Click here for specific dates, times and hours for Holiday Cheer at Maymont.
Michie Tavern’s Yuletide Dinner
Get a taste of the 18th century at Michie Tavern, a Virginia Historic Landmark in Charlottesville, VA. Named after proprietor Corporal William Michie, the tavern has been serving the public since 1784. Today, Michie Tavern is a museum and restaurant complex featuring southern fare, colonial decorations and servers dressed in period attire. This holiday season, enjoy a historic Yuletide Dinner by candlelight. Click here for specific dates, times and hours for Michie Tavern’s Yuletide Dinner.
Village of Middleburg Christmas
Visit the historic Middleburg for the holidays and experience the ultimate winter cheer complete with small-town charm. Enjoy Christmas light displays, the annual tree lighting and the beloved Middleburg Christmas Parade featuring horses, hounds, ponies, llamas and more. Middleburg is also the perfect place to take a trip do some holiday shopping with festive boutiques, restaurants, and lodging available for seasonal visitors. Visitors can also join Middleburg for the ultimate Charles Dickens Christmas experience with special Dickens-themed events such as the Dickens of a Dog Show, the Run Like the Dickens 5k two live outdoor performances of “A Christmas Carol,” and much more. Click here for specific dates, times and hours for Village of Middleburg Christmas.
Tour Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello by Candlelight
Home of our third President, University of Virginia founder, and author of the Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello displays the holiday traditions of his time. His “little mountain” is in Charlottesville. This holiday season, enjoy special Holiday Evening Tours complete with seasonal greenery from Jefferson’s era and learn how the Monticello mountaintop celebrated the holidays in the past. The events calendar is also filled with wreath-making classes, food workshops and even beer and wine tastings. Click here for specific dates, times and hours for Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello by Candlelight.
James Madison’s Montpelier Holiday Traditions
Home of our fourth President James Madison, Montpelier welcomes visitors to access the mansion and enjoy grounds complete with 19th-century decorations this holiday season. Visit the property’s gardens, trails and Museum shop with guided tours and learn about historical holiday traditions practiced at Montpelier. A memorial to James Madison and the Enslaved Community, a museum of American history, and a center for constitutional education, this center for learning is located in Orange County, Virginia. It is also the site for the popular annual Montpelier Hunt Races each fall. Click here for specific dates, times and hours for James Madison’s Montpelier Holiday Traditions.
Festive Tours at Morven Park
This holiday season, tour the ornately decorated Davis Mansion at Morven Park. A historic property home to the world-renowned Morven Park International Equestrian Center, the iconic Davis Mansion and the unique Winmill Carriage Museum, Morven Park’s grounds are open to the public daily. This holiday season, learn how early 20th century Christmas customs evolved into the holiday traditions we enjoy today. Guided tours are offered every weekend in the month of December through the 23rd, or guests can visit during Open House Week and enjoy self-guided tours of the festive mansion. Morven is in Leesburg, Northern Virginia. Click here for specific dates, times and hours for Festive Tours at Morven Park.
Dazzling Light Displays at George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Celebrate the holidays at Mount Vernon, the historic home of our first president, George Washington. Visitors can enjoy the winter season at the historic estate with Christmas Illuminations, an outdoor walking experience featuring 18th century crafts from the Winter Market, fireworks over the Potomac river and dazzling lights around the historic grounds. Guests can also experience Mount Vernon by Candlelight this holiday season. These candlelit guided tours tells the story of holiday traditions in 18th-century Virginia from costumed characters in period attire. Tea with Martha Washington, wreath making classes and more are on offer at this historic attraction. Conveniently located in Mount Vernon, it is just 15 miles out of D.C. and 8 miles from Alexandria. Click here for specific dates, times and hours for Dazzling Light Displays at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
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