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December 2, 2009

CW's guests can enjoy special evening holiday traditions

Colonial Williamsburg’s guests can enjoy evening illuminations throughout the Historic Area during special programs this holiday season. The illuminations feature flickering cressets, musket fire and Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums. The narrated tours describe the festive significance of illuminations in the 18th century.

Illuminations were commonly used to celebrate major events such as great military victories, the birthday of the monarch or the arrival of a new colonial governor. Written accounts of illuminations in 18th-century Williamsburg include descriptions of “candles in the cupolas of public buildings and windows of gentlemen’s houses.” Families are invited to enjoy these evening illuminations in the Historic Area:

  • Illumination of the Taverns — 5:30 p.m. Dec. 10, 22 and 27.
  • Illumination of Palace Green —5:30 p.m. Dec. 12, 19 and 26.
  • Illumination of Market Square — 5:30 p.m. Dec. 15 and 21.
  • Illumination of the Capitol — 5:30 p.m. Dec. 17 and 29.

    Guests can sing the songs of the holiday season with caroling throughout the Historic Area.

  • Caroling at the Courthouse — 6 p.m. Dec. 11, 18 and 23.
  • Caroling at the Robert Carter House — 6 p.m. Dec. 12 and 19.
  • Caroling at Wetherburn’s Tavern — 6 p.m. Dec. 17 and 22.
  • Caroling at the Palmer House — 6 p.m. Dec. 20.

    On Dec. 24, guests can experience an 18th-century tradition, the Firing of the Christmas Guns. During the 18th century, it was customary for Virginians to fire their guns in salute to the Christmas season as an expression of joy and celebration. Fifes and Drums follow the program from the Palace Green to the Courthouse along Colonial Williamsburg’s main thoroughfare, Duke of Gloucester Street.

    No ticket is required for these programs. All programs are free and open to the public.

    Request a 2009 Holiday Planner for a detailed listing of holiday season events by calling toll-free 1-800-HISTORY.

    Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121

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