South Carolina
A Cultural Christmas Feast in Historic Charleston
You’ll catch the holiday spirit in Charleston as you attend a Christmas show, see the James Island Festival of Lights and learn about historic homes decked out in their holiday finest.
Rating (4.67)
Program No. 14327RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation, Social
Isle of Palms/Charleston
Coastal Retreat Center, Isle of Palms/Charleston

Activity note: Check-in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Registration begins at 4 p.m. in lobby. Coffee, tea, water, fruit, and snacks are provided upon your arrival at the Coastal Retreat. As is the custom with non-profit retreat centers, you are provided fresh sheets to make up your bed upon arrival. If you would enjoy wine or spirits during your stay, please feel free to bring them with you.

Dinner: Participants will have their first of many delicious entrées for the week, and local fare will delight your palate! Expect seafood to be available as an occasional featured dish throughout the week. Parish House Catering with Toni Scott is our on sight chef for the week. Kindly let us know of dietary restrictions at time of your registration.

Evening: Beginning at 7pm, your Road Scholar host and resident manager offer you a warm Southern welcome, along with orientation to the retreat center and program schedule. Following orientation, we will enjoy fellowship with other participants at a welcome reception.

Christmas Music, Magnolia Plantation, Festival of Lights
Isle of Palms/Charleston
Coastal Retreat Center, Isle of Palms/Charleston

Activity note: Walking and stairs at Magnolia Plantation, Lunch and Supper at local Charleston restaurants, and the James Island Festival of Lights, rain jackets and/or umbrellas may be needed

Breakfast: 8:15 a.m. Enjoy your first Breakfast of the week featuring Southern Favorites as well as traditional breakfast fare both hot and cold. Coffee is provided at all hours to accommodate the early birds.

Morning: At 9:00 a.m. We begin our program of Christmas Music Through The Ages providing an educational look at music as well as live performances. Today's feature is on Classical and Sacred Christmas Music history. Following the presentation, we will embark on a luxury coach across the beautiful Ravenel and historic Ashley River bridges for a lunch with unforgettable views.

Lunch: Lunch with a view will be at the Circular Holiday Inn Charleston - Riverview in West Ashley. Buffet lunch with soda, tea, coffee, and water will be provided, with extra beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Founded in 1676 by the Drayton family, Magnolia Plantation has survived the centuries and witnessed the history of our nation unfold before it from the American Revolution through the Civil War and beyond. The “Slavery to Freedom” presentation will share important information about the slave quarters and tasks which will help complete the picture of plantation life in early America.

Dinner: Supper at a local restaurant will feature delicious local cuisine. Coffee, tea, soda or water provided and other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Find the holiday magic in the millions of sparkling lights and hundreds of displays at the Holiday Festival of Lights on James Island. The Festival includes an enchanted 3-mile driving tour, and there are exciting opportunities available including marshmallow roasts, two dazzling gift shops, carols, lakeside lights, walking trails, carousel rides, gingerbread houses, life-size greeting card display, and more!

Boone Hall, Sweetgrass Baskets, The Magnolia Singers
Isle of Palms/Charleston
Coastal Retreat Center, Isle of Palms/Charleston

Activity note: Boone Hall Plantation house tour with authentic slave cabins will require some walking. Rain jackets and umbrellas may be needed.

Breakfast: Hot or cold breakfasts available, with fresh fruits, juices, hot coffee, tea, available.

Morning: This morning we will depart for Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant. With authentic slave cabins and the Gullah Theater presentation, this working plantation is not to be missed!

Lunch: A delicious picnic lunch will be enjoyed at the Boone Hall Plantation Butterfly Café. Water provided with other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Following the Boone Hall Plantation visit, we will return to the Coastal Retreat for a presentation about Gullah History and Sweetgrass Basket making, an art dating back to pre-slavery Africa and passed down through generations.

Dinner: Dinner this evening will feature local cuisine catered by Toni Scott and Parish House Catering. Coffee, tea, and infused water provided. As always, you are welcome to bring your own alternate beverages.

Evening: Tonight's performance will be delivered by The Magnolia Singers, featuring Ann Caldwell. Ann Caldwell and the Magnolia Singers is an acapella group that performs spirituals, Gullah poetry, and stories indigenous to the Lowcountry.

Historical Homes, Folk and Jazz Music Presentations
Isle of Palms/Charleston
Coastal Retreat Center, Isle of Palms/Charleston

Activity note: Visits to the Edmondston-Alston Mansion on the Battery, Nathaniel Russell House with its floating staircase, and the Aiken-Rhett Mansion with dependency quarters will each require some walking and stairs.

Breakfast: Breakfast is served at 8:15 a.m.

Morning: Our luxury coach takes us to the Charleston Visitors Center, then to the historical Charleston Battery where we begin our visits to three beautiful historical mansions decorated for the Holiday season. Of Charleston's many fine house museums, only the Edmondston-Alston House (constructed in 1825 and enhanced in 1838) commands a magnificent view of Charleston Harbor. From its piazza, General P. T. Beauregard watched the fierce bombardment of Ft. Sumter on April 12, 1861, signaling the start of the Civil War. And on December 11 of the same year, the house gave refuge to General Robert E. Lee the night a wide-spreading fire threatened his safety in a Charleston hotel. The Nathaniel Russell House Museum, 51 Meeting Street, located near the High Battery in downtown Charleston, is widely recognized as one of America’s most important neoclassical structures. The Charleston Historical Foundation purchased this National Historic Landmark in 1955, and the house served as the Foundation’s headquarters for 37 years. Today, the interiors are restored to their original 1808 grandeur and surrounded by formal gardens.

Lunch: Lunch today will be enjoyed at a restaurant near the famous Charleston Market. Tea, soda, and water will be provided with additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Built in 1820 by merchant John Robinson, the Aiken-Rhett House is nationally significant as one of the best-preserved townhouse complexes in the nation. Vastly expanded by Governor and Mrs. William Aiken, Jr. in the 1830s and again in the 1850s, the house and its outbuildings include a kitchen, the original slave quarters, carriage block and back lot. The house and its surviving furnishings offer a compelling portrait of urban life in antebellum Charleston, as well as a Southern politician, slaveholder and industrialist. The house spent 142 years in the Aiken family's hands before being sold to the Charleston Museum and opened as a museum house in 1975. Following this house tour, our coach will safely deliver us to our home away from home at the beautiful Coastal Retreat.

Dinner: Another delightful dinner featuring Lowcountry fare will delight guests. Coffee, tea, infused water provided. Other beverages of your own provision are always welcome.

Evening: Following a brief history of Jazz and Folk music and the adaptation into Christmas Tunes we will then delight in the Folk music of musician Bart Saylor and the lovely Jazz of professional thespian and musician Vicky Saye.

Musical Theater Overview, Free Time, Dock Street Theater
Isle of Palms/Charleston
Coastal Retreat Center, Isle of Palms/Charleston

Activity note: Scholars will enjoy lunch together, then select either an option of free time in Downtown Charleston or on Isle of Palms, Supper will be together at a downtown restaurant and we will then enjoy a stage production to be announced. Rain jackets and umbrellas may be needed.

Breakfast: Breakfast begins at 8:15 am with coffee available for early birds at all hours.

Morning: The enjoyable and educational presentation of Christmas Music Through the Ages continues as we take a closer look at stage and film. Professional Thespian Vicky Henderson, recently named the South Carolina Teaching Artist of the Year, shares a musical overview from staged Christmas Plays. Afterwards, Scholars have the option of departing for downtown Charleston or staying on the Isle of Palms for lunch on your own and an afternoon of free time. Suggested restaurants and tour spots will be provided to participants.

Lunch: Today's lunch will be together at Coastal Retreat.

Afternoon: This afternoon allows Scholars to enjoy their pleasure of sights, either in downtown Charleston or on the lovely Isle of Palms. We'll provide ideas and suggestions to enjoy your time in addition to the option of transportation to the historic district at 11:30am or 4:30pm.

Dinner: Dinner is early today, at 5:30 p.m. where Scholars will delight in fresh local Charleston Cuisine and share stories of their free afternoon ventures. Coffee, tea, soda and water provided and other beverages will be available for purchase. After supper, we will enjoy a brief stroll to the Dock Street Theater for our evening production.

Evening: Scholars will delight in the performance of A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Dock Street Theater, which originally opened February, 1736. Built on the corner of Church Street and Dock Street (now Queen Street), the Historic Theatre was the first building in America built exclusively for theatrical performances. Flora, the first opera performance in America, took place at Dock Street Theatre. The original Dock Street Theatre was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1740. In 1809, the Planter's Hotel was built on the site. Many notable persons worked and patronized the Planter's Hotel including 19th Century actor Junius Brutus Booth (father of John Wilkes Booth). Robert Smalls, an African-American Civil War hero who stole a steamboat in the harbor and turned it over to the Union Fleet, once served as waiter in the hotel's dining room. After the Civil War, the Planter's Hotel fell into disrepair and was slated for demolition. But in 1935, the original building became a Depression Era WPA project. At that time, the present theatre was constructed within the shell of the Planter's Hotel. The beautiful woodwork and mantels of the second floor drawing room were salvaged from the Radcliffe-King Mansion (circa 1799). Modeled on eighteenth century London playhouses by Charleston architect Albert Simons, the present Dock Street Theatre's new stage house and auditorium were built in the hotel's courtyard. Following this $350,000 renovation, The Historic Dock Street Theatre's second grand opening took place on November 26, 1937. Notables in the audience included author DuBose Heyward (Porgy). The Historic Dock Street Theatre reopened for the third time on March 18, 2010 after a three year, $19 million dollar renovation by the City of Charleston. The theatre was made seismically secure and fully handicapped accessible. Now owned and managed by the City of Charleston, the Historic Dock Street Theatre is home to many of the City's finest cultural institutions including Spoleto Festival USA.

Presentation & Closing Concert, Program Concludes
Isle of Palms/Charleston

Activity note: Check-out 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Breakfast is served at 8:15 a.m.

Morning: This morning presentation includes an hour long Holiday Concert performed by local musicians. You'll be sure to leave this program with a song in your heart! Following this final concert, please prepare to check out of your rooms by 11:00 a.m. by stripping your bed sheets and placing linens and towels outside of your door with the door propped open to indicate it is ready for cleaning. Luggage may be safely stored in the lobby area.

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