People from all walks of life are drawn back to Williamsburg again and again because it represents a common bond of shared history and traditions. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make some space for the new. Here’s a sampling of 2016 debuts and a few old favorites.
There are far too many programs to include everything being offered this holiday season, but we’ve selected programs that occur most frequently. Check the calendar for the full list and details! Please note that some programs require a separate ticket for an additional cost, some require a free reservation for admission ticket holders, and others only require an admission ticket.
Choose your own adventure at the Governor’s Palace. Every afternoon at 4, rather than following a guided tour, you can wander freely through the building called home by governors from Lord Dunmore to Thomas Jefferson. Our staff will be close by to answer your questions.
Think of this as “Meet a Nation Builder” with a special Christmas season theme, as various Williamsburg luminaries talk about their experiences of the holidays. It promises to be new every time.
11: 15 a.m. Dec. 11, 18, 25, Jan. 1, Hennage Auditorium (free with museum admission)
With the harvest in and cooler weather, the end of the year was a good time for Native American emissaries to travel to Williamsburg. Find out what was on the minds of Cherokee delegations visiting in the 18th century. Gain a new perspective by hearing about events from the perspective of members of the Cherokee Nation conducting diplomacy in the colonial capital.
11:30 a.m., Dec. 4, 11, 18, Jan. 1, Governor’s Palace East Advance (free with regular admission)
While recovering from a nasty fall, Elisha James is forced to sell most of what he owns, and ends up a tenant on another man’s property. He survives by “jobbing,” performing odd jobs like whitewashing, glazing broken windows, and cobbling shoes. From the scant details of this real person’s life, interpreter Bill Rose has fashioned a story of how Williamsburg’s working poor celebrated Christmastide.
3 p.m. Dec. 4, 11, 18, Jan. 1, Raleigh Tavern Apollo Room (free reservation required)
10:15 a.m., Dec. 5, 12, 19, 26, Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg (free with museum admission)
It’s Christmas in Williamsburg, 1779. This is a unique opportunity to see the personal side of a young Thomas Jefferson and his wife Martha as they share memories and think about the future in a time of revolutionary upheaval. The unscripted program is not only about Christmas and their relationship, but how they manage and struggle to be together through the Revolutionary War, which spans the majority of their married life.
11:15 a.m. Dec. 12 & 19, Hennage Auditorium (additional paid ticket required)
At the beginning of the Second World War, a tea set spurs three women with very different backgrounds and experiences to a deeper discussion of history. At a time when the nation is being challenged, what sacrifices are they asked to make? And how does an everyday object connect us to a shared past, and each other?
2:15 p.m. Dec. 6, 13, 20, Hennage Auditorium (additional paid ticket required)
3 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, through Dec. 31, weather permitting, at the Playbooth Theater (free with admission ticket)
But wait… there’s more! Two hilarious puppet shows are also underway Wednesday through Saturday…
1 p.m. What Goes Up: An original musical play of the first balloon flight in 1782 Versailles as told by its passengers; a duck, a rooster, and a sheep.
2 p.m. Puppets!!! Come see Punch and Joan spar as the story of George Washington in Williamsburg is told with the help of their master Edward Chowning.
Rhythm of the Culture
During the 18th century, men and women from Indian Town frequented middling and gentry farms, offering wild fish and game to plantation residents. It’s the kind of fare that might have found its way to a colonist’s holiday table. Learn more about the lives of their Pamunkey Indian neighbors.
Dec. 8, 15, 22, 29, from 10-12 p.m. & 1:30-3:30 p.m., Governor’s Palace Scullery (free with admission ticket)
10 a.m. Dec. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, Powell House (free reservation required)
- Tuesdays: Illumination of the Trades, Dec. 6, 13, & 20 from Prentis Store
- Thursdays: Illumination of the Taverns, Dec. 8, 15, 22, & 29 from Wetherburn’s Tavern
- Fridays: Illumination of Market Square, Dec. 9, 16, & 23 from Market Square
- Saturdays: Illumination of Palace Green, Dec. 10 & 17 from the Wythe House
- Sundays: Illumination of the Capitol, Dec. 11 and 18 (and Tues., Dec. 27) from Capitol Green
Every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday through Dec. 29 at 1:30, 2, 2:30, 3, and 3:30 p.m. at the Raleigh Tavern (free reservation required)
$15 ticket. Daily through Dec. 31 at 9:15, 11, 1:30, and 3:15, leaving from the Lumber House Ticket Office.
Join us on a trip through time as we cover the whole history of Williamsburg’s holiday customs and traditions, from the 18th century to Mr. Minnigerode and the first Christmas tree in town to the restoration’s development of new traditions.
$15 ticket. Dec. 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, & 25-28, leaving every 15 minutes from 7-9 p.m. from the Lumber House Ticket Office.
I hope this list gives you some great ideas for how to make the most of your holiday visit to Williamsburg. You never know what might become your next family tradition!