Celebrate Christmases Past: Historical Spots to Ring in the Holidays

by Kristy Tolley

By Leah Chester-Davis

The holidays often bring to mind favored traditions or the desire to make new ones. If yours is to experience how Christmas was celebrated long ago, these four destinations provide many options.

Hart Square Village | Vale, NC

Enjoy a walk through this magical early American village along lantern-lit pathways. Learn about pioneer Christmases with a tour of eight or so cabins in this impressive collection of 100 historic log structures, the largest in the country.

Popular pioneer yuletide traditions are a highlight: roasting chestnuts on an open fire, making candles and knitting stockings to hang by the chimney with care. Create your own cornhusk angel ornament and enjoy delicious treats such as Brunswick stew, ham biscuits and molasses cookies.

Details: Event dates are Dec. 4 and 5, 2020. Seating is limited, so order tickets early. 828-528-5029



Bridge in Old Salem decorated for Christmas


Old Salem | Winston-Salem, NC

Stroll the charming streets of Old Salem, lined with over one hundred original historic buildings and structures, where the fragrances of pine bough decorations greet you. It’s the perfect place to escape the season’s hustle and bustle. Pick up sugar cake, Moravian cookies, and Lovefeat buns from Old Salem’s bakery annex on Tuesday and Thursdays. Bring a picnic, a warm beverage and stroll the decorated district, a beautiful and scenic location to spend the holidays with your loved ones. Enjoy online holiday programming, like Music at the Tavern, a musical livestream on Sunday, Nov. 29 from 5 – 7 p.m. on Old Salem’s YouTube channel and Facebook page. A December Music at the Tavern concert will be announced soon. Check out their websites for more online offerings.

Details: Online Holiday offerings available in November and December. The Historic District is open to explore, but buildings and bathrooms are temporarily closed due to Covid-19. 336-721-7300


Christmas lights display on grounds of Biltmore Estate


Biltmore Estate | Asheville, NC

Opulent abundance is the hallmark of Biltmore Estate, especially during the holidays. The mansion exudes warmth and elicits child-like wonder as more than 50 hand-decorated Christmas trees are adorned with miles of ribbons, garlands, lights and fanciful ornaments. Another 60-plus trees are decorated across the estate. Choose to visit during the day or for one of the Candlelight Christmas Evenings and let the inspiration and celebration begin! AAA Members can save up to 40 percent when they purchase their Biltmore Estate tickets through AAA!

Details: Holiday events run from Nov. 6, 2020 – Jan. 10, 2021. 800-411-3812


Historic Williamsburg building decorated for Christmas


Colonial Williamsburg | Williamsburg, VA

America’s Colonial past is celebrated in the entire town, which is considered an interactive history museum. Greenery and lovely fruit-studded wreaths and other adornments that are a signature of the Williamsburg style lend an elegant holiday splendor to windows and doorways. Tours are available for those who want to learn more about the traditional holiday decorations. Enjoy a wide range of seasonal offerings and events such as ox wagon rides, historic organ recitals, secrets of the chocolate maker, children’s tours, theatrical performances, family-style dinners and a Community Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Save on tickets when purchasing online at AAA.com/ColonialWmbg.

Details: Various events run throughout December. 888-965-7254

Please note: Event information may change due to COVID-19. Confirm details and current operating protocols with each destination before visiting. 

(Photos: Old Salem photo courtesy Old Salem Museums and Gardens)

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