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'A Colonial Christmas' Makes Holidays Fun in December at Jamestown Settlement, Yorktown Victory Center

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., November 21, 2011 — History makes the holidays fun at Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center during “A Colonial Christmas,” December 1-31, 2011. 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.


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Songs and sounds of Christmas will be performed on December 26-31 with period musical entertainment.

“A Colonial Christmas” offers a glimpse of 17th- and 18th-century holiday traditions with special tours and interpretive programs and, from December 26 through 31, musical entertainment of the period. Songs and sounds of the season will be performed during the week by musicians on fiddle, guitar, fifes and drums, recorder, hurdy-gurdy, and pipe and tabor. 

At Jamestown Settlement, “A Jamestown Christmas” holiday film and special guided tours 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. Holiday-themed tours, beginning each day at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m., will guide visitors through the museum’s outdoor interpretive areas. Among the highlights, visitors will learn about the English colonists’ 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.

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The Lord of Misrule and his band of merrymakers make appearances at 11 a.m and 2:30 p.m. daily in December.

In the 1610-14 re-created fort, visitors can see wattle-and-daub buildings decorated with greenery.  At 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. daily, and also at 4 p.m. December 19-31, visitors will encounter the Lord of Misrule, an English tradition in which “grand captain of all mischief” and his followers progressed through town with riddles and revelry during the Christmas holiday.  In the fort church, visitors can enjoy 17th-century holiday music at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. December 26-31, including David Gardner playing fiddle December 26-28 and 31, Jim and Anna Holloway on recorder, hurdy-gurdy, and pipe and tabor December 29-30, and Jim Holloway on December 31.At the 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.


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Yorktown Victory Center historical intepreters set a holiday table in the farmhouse.

At the clapboard farmhouse adorned with greenery, historical interpreters will 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, on December 19-31, take part in candle-dipping activities. 

From December 26 through 31, visitors can enjoy 18th-century musical entertainment in the farmhouse at 11:35 a.m. and 3:35 p.m. daily. Musical performers include members of the Fifes & Drums of York Town December 26-27, Dan Jackson on guitar and recorder December 28, 29 and 31, and David Gardner on fiddle December 30.

In addition to holiday programming, the museums offer an extensive look at America’s beginnings through indoor gallery exhibits. A visit to Jamestown Settlement begins with the docudrama film “1607: A Nation Takes Root” that presents an overview of the first two decades of the Virginia colony. Expansive gallery exhibits tell the Jamestown story in the context of the Powhatan Indian, English and African cultures that converged in the 1600s. More than 500 artifacts from 17th-century Europe and Africa and Virginia archaeological items are exhibited. “The 17th Century: Gateway to the Modern World,” a new special exhibition organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, features artifacts from European, Asian, African and American cultures.

Gallery exhibits at the Yorktown Victory Center relate the experiences of ordinary men and women who lived during the Revolutionary era. The Declaration of Independence Gallery features a rare 1776 broadside printing of the Declaration, and the Witnesses to Revolution Gallery presents the stories of 10 people whose lives were profoundly affected by the Revolution. Exhibits also examine how people from many different cultures shaped a new society and the development of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

“A Colonial Christmas” Programs Included With Admission,
New Holiday Tour, Ticket and Package Specials Available Online

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. A combination ticket to both museums is $20 for adults and $10 for ages 6-12, a 20 percent savings on individual museum admission. Admission to Jamestown Settlement is $15.50 for adults and $7.25 for ages 6-12, and to the Yorktown Victory Center, $9.50 for adults and $5.25 for ages 6-12. Children under 6 are free. Parking is free at both museums.

“History is Fun for the Holidays” combination ticket to Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center – available online only – offers seven days of unlimited admission at $20 for adults and $10 for ages 6-12 and vouchers for a Williamsburg Premium Outlets coupon booklet and a Historic Yorktown Rewards Card. Packages are available, starting at $199 for two nights for two adults in the Williamsburg area.

New this year is a “History is Fun for the Holidays” online ticket plus a two-hour guided Christmas tourat Jamestown Settlement, available at 9:30 a.m. or 1 p.m. December 1-21 with advance reservations; space is limited to 25 people per tour. The online ticket offers seven days of unlimited admission at $20 for adults and $10 for ages 6-12 and vouchers for a Williamsburg Premium Outlets coupon booklet and a Historic Yorktown Rewards Card. Several other multi-attraction holiday ticket and package options are available. For information on the “History is Fun for the Holidays” online specials and other holiday ticket options, visithttps://jyfmuseums.org/Vacation-Packages.htm.

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. Shop during your museum visit or online at www.shophistoryisfun.com. Admission is not required to visit the museum gift shops, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

“A Colonial Christmas” is funded in part by a leadership grant from Dominion Resources with additional support from the York County Arts Commission.

Jamestown Settlement is located on Route 31 South (2110 Jamestown Road) at the Colonial Parkway, 10 minutes southwest of Williamsburg.  The Yorktown Victory Center is located on Route 1020 (200 Water Street) in Yorktown. The museums are separated by a 30-minute drive along the scenic Colonial Parkway, a National Scenic Byway.  For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838, or visithif.ciniva.net.