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WILLIAMSBURG, Va., November 20, 2012 — History makes the holidays fun at Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center during “A Colonial Christmas,” December 1-31, 2012. The month-long event explores 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 fifes and drums, violin, guitar, recorder, and pipe and tabor.

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.

“A Jamestown Christmas” holiday film and special interpretive programs 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. In England, the holiday season – extending from December 25 to January 6 – was a time of merriment and feasting. Little is known about Christmases at Jamestown, but it is likely there were few celebrations other than church services to mark the holiday.
On Christmas-themed tours, available at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. December 1-21 with advance reservations, learn about the English colonists’ Christmas at sea in December 1606, the Powhatan Indian hospitality shown to Captain John Smith’s trading party in 1608 during a winter storm, and the Lord of Misrule, an English tradition. Daily orientation tours of the museum’s outdoor living-history areas will be offered at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. during “A Colonial Christmas.”

Visitors can see wattle-and-daub buildings in the 1610-14 re-created fort decorated with greenery. Fort visitors can experience riddles and revelry by the Lord of Misrule, “grand captain of all mischief,” at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. daily and, from December 22 through 31, also at 4 p.m.

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 1:05 and 3:05 p.m. daily, observe artillery demonstrations.

At the clapboard farmhouse adorned with greenery, historical interpreters 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 take part in candle-dipping activities.

In Jamestown Settlement’s re-created 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, 27 and 30; Barry and Lynn Trott on mandolin, guitar, flute, and viola da gamba December 29; and Jim Holloway on recorder and pipe and tabor December 28; and Jim Holloway and Madeline and Anna Hower on recorder December 31.

At the Yorktown Victory Center, farm visitors can enjoy 18th-century musical entertainment during the week with daily performances at 11:35 a.m. and 3:35 p.m. Musical performers include the Itinerant Band with music from the British Isles December 26 and 29, Dan Jackson on guitar and recorder December 27 and 31, David Gardner on fiddle December 28, and members of the Fifes & Drums of York Town December 30.

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 value-priced 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, $9.75 for adults and $5.50 for ages 6-12. Children under 6 are free. Parking is free at both museums. Customized private tours are available for an additional fee with advance reservations.

Guided Christmas tours of Jamestown Settlement are available December 1-21 with advance reservations; space is limited to 25 people per tour. Reservations can be made online or by calling (757) 253-4939.

A History is Fun for the Holidays combination ticket – available online only – offers seven days of unlimited admission to both museums at $20 for adults and $10 for ages 6 through 12 and includes coupon booklets for Williamsburg Premium Outlets and the Historic Yorktown Rewards Card. The History is Fun for the Holidays vacation package starts at $199 for two nights’ lodging in the Williamsburg area and three days of unlimited admission for two adults to Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center. Several other multi-attraction holiday ticket and package options are available.

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. Admission is not required to visit the museum gift shops, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

The museums are separated by a 25-minute drive along the Colonial Parkway, a National Scenic Byway. Jamestown Settlement is located on Route 31 just southwest of Williamsburg. The Yorktown Victory Center is located on Route 1020 in Yorktown. Parking is free. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838.