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Colonial Christmas at Williamsburg & the James River Plantations

Program No. 22934RJ
Sing Colonial carols, design historical decorations and enjoy a holiday dinner with period personalities on this time-travel deep-dive into the history of Christmas in America.

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DATES & starting prices
Dec 2 - Dec 7, 2024
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Dec 5 - Dec 10, 2024
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Dec 9 - Dec 14, 2024
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Dec 12 - Dec 17, 2024
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DATES & starting prices
Filling Fast!
Dec 2 - Dec 7, 2024
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Dec 5 - Dec 10, 2024
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Dec 9 - Dec 14, 2024
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Filling Fast!
Dec 12 - Dec 17, 2024
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At a Glance

Travel back in time to Colonial Williamsburg as reenactors make history come to life for Christmas. Explore the historical and cultural significance of Christmas in the 18th and 19th centuries and find out how music, traditions, festivities and food have evolved from early America to what we know and love at Christmastime today. Observe and then make historical decorations, sing music of the era with costumed singers and learn about religious customs of both free and enslaved people. And at the end of your week of celebration, sit down with period personalities for a festive meal in a colonial tavern!
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Considerable amounts of walking and long periods of standing.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Enjoy a private organ concert in the College of William & Mary’s historic chapel, sing along with well-known musicians and meet African American and colonial interpreters.
  • Visit seasonally decorated homes spanning four centuries of history from Colonial Williamsburg to the James River plantations.
  • Create your own Colonial decoration using traditional techniques, prepare a Colonial treat and savor both a lunch and a festive farewell dinner in Colonial taverns.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Dean Shostak
Dean Shostak, in 1991, became involved in the revival of the rare glass armonica, invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761. Today, he is one of eight glass armonica players in the world, and the only musician since the 18th century to use a flywheel and foot treadle as Franklin originally designed. Dean began his musical career in Colonial Williamsburg at the age of 14, and after graduating from the University of Virginia, began to study 18th-century instruments such as the pocket violin and the hurdy-gurdy.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Dean Shostak
Dean Shostak View biography
Dean Shostak, in 1991, became involved in the revival of the rare glass armonica, invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761. Today, he is one of eight glass armonica players in the world, and the only musician since the 18th century to use a flywheel and foot treadle as Franklin originally designed. Dean began his musical career in Colonial Williamsburg at the age of 14, and after graduating from the University of Virginia, began to study 18th-century instruments such as the pocket violin and the hurdy-gurdy.
Profile Image of Stephen Christoff
Stephen Christoff View biography
Stephen Christoff has been a musical fixture at Colonial Williamsburg for more than 15 years. Since 2006, he has performed his one-man show called "Seller of Songs" at the Hennage Theater in Colonial Williamsburg to sell-out audiences and rave reviews. In 2007, Stephen was a member of a collaborative performance team that played over 100 performances of "American Musicworks," a signature show designed for the Dewitt Wallace Galleries folk art exhibition. He also performed for the Jamestown Godspeed Sail and Landing Party Festival.
Profile Image of Tom Marshall
Tom Marshall View biography
Tom Marshall has been an instructor in the music department at the College of William and Mary and a harpsichordist for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation for more than 20 years. Not only is he featured playing original instruments in many of Williamsburg’s historical recordings but he has made seven study explorations in Europe to examine and play many surviving keyboard instruments from the 15th to the 19th centuries.
Profile Image of Anne Conkling
Anne Conkling View biography
A native of Pennsylvania with family roots deep in that state, Anne Conkling attended American University before finally settling in Williamsburg, Va. She has a passion for anything historical, particularly from the period 1500-1875. Her interests include colonial Virginia, the role of the Anglican Church in colonization, royal charters, political life cycles, and the roles of women of all races. Anne has written for various newspapers and publications, is a historical interpreter at Bruton Parish Church, and a teacher of historical interpreters at Jamestown Island.
Profile Image of Bunny Rich
Bunny Rich View biography
Bunny Rich has worked for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation for more than 40 years. Among her many interests, she has concentrated on Colonial family life, cooking, and clothing, often interpreting at the Powell House. Bunny also has served as a leader for VIP guests ranging from Bill Clinton to David Brinkley. A native of York County, Bunny can trace her roots on the Virginia Peninsula back to the 1630s.
Profile Image of Lee Rose
Lee Ann Rose View biography
Lee Ann Rose has found a way to use her theatre degree and her love of history into a career that has spanned 20 years at Colonial Williamsburg and now has allowed her to step out creating her own company called, Shades of Our Past. At her time at Colonial Williamsburg, she has played Martha Washington and coached other character interpreters and Nation Builders. When she is not performing, she is working on a book about Martha Washington's children.
Profile Image of Mary Griffith
Mary Griffith View biography
Mary Griffith, a chocolatier, has an MBA from Old Dominion University and started Virginia's Finest Chocolate while an undergraduate student at Christopher Newport University. Taking the Small Business Institute class, she created the business plan for Virginia's Finest Chocolate and carried it out. For more than 25 years, Mary has enjoyed sharing her love for all things chocolate with her handmade products and educational programs. Her products carry Virginia's Finest Trademark as awarded by the Virginia Department of Agriculture.
Profile Image of Kate Tilley
Kate Tilley View biography
A Pennsylvania native, Kate Tilley received a bachelor’s in theatre from DeSales University with concentrations in acting and costuming. In 2009, she turned her costuming attention to historical clothing in the colonial time period and began an internship with the tailors at Colonial Williamsburg. As a historic clothing technician at the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Kate served as a mentor for new staff in the historical clothing services department, team leader for day-to-day activities at the Jamestown Settlement Costume Shop.
Profile Image of Christi Pancoast
Christi Pancoast View biography
Christi Pancoast is originally from Ohio and has been a teacher in Richmond, Virginia for over two decades. She is a self-proclaimed travel junkie, lifelong learner, and people enthusiast. In her free time, she enjoys Zumba, yoga, and being with her friends.
Profile Image of Mary Alie
Mary had a 34-year career in education as a classroom teacher, assistant principal and principal. Since retiring in 2001, Mary has worked as a schools and groups Interpreter for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. She has also served as an instructor for the Colonial Williamsburg’s Teacher Institute. Mary also serves as a costumed interpreter in Colonial Williamsburg’s original and restored homes and public buildings, such as the Governor’s Palace and the Colonial Capitol.
Profile Image of Teri Toepke
Teri Toepke View biography
Teri Toepke has been an educator for her entire adult life. She graduated from The College of William & Mary with a B.A. in Elementary Education, an M.Ed. in Special Education, and advanced course work in administration. She taught at Eastern State Hospital, public and private schools, and Hampton University Department of Education. Moving into museum education, she provided educational programs for children and adults. In 2006, she returned to the College as director of Learning Odysseys. Teri is a Civil War historian and reenactor.
Profile Image of Debbie Downs
Debbie Downs View biography
Debbie Downs has worked on Road Scholar programs since 2005. She has worked with Colonial Williamsburg as school group interpreter, educational specialist, and an African-American history interpreter. She currently works as an instructor for Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute and Evening Programs. She also serves as a program manager for the Shadows of the Past, telling ghost stories. Debbie has a master's degree in education from Old Dominion University and is employed by Newport News Public Schools as a pre-kindergarten teacher.
Profile Image of BJ Pryor
B.J. Pryor was born and raised in Montgomery County, Maryland, and attended the College of William and Mary. He spent his first year after graduation in Vienna, Austria, but returned to Williamsburg in 1979 and, the following year, took a job at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, where he remained for almost 40 years. He played many roles, including the impersonation of several "people of the past." Since leaving Colonial Williamsburg, he has made his portrayal of Benjamin Franklin available to schools, museums, and special events.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Christmas in Colonial and Early America
by World Book
We Were Marching on Christmas Day
by Kevin Rawlings
Colonial Williamsburg Decorates for Christmas: Step-by-Step Illustrated Instructions
by Colonial Williamsburg
A Very Virginia Christmas
by Wilford Kale
The Artful Tree: Ornaments to Make Inspired by the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum
by Jan Gilliam and Christina Westenberger
Christmas in Williamsburg
by K. M. Kostyal

Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.