Afternoon: 4-5 p.m. Registration in the hotel lobby. At 5 p.m. is complimentary wine at the hotel. At 5:45 p.m. At 6 p.m. is a Welcome-to-Natchez session at the hotel, with overview of the Road Scholar program.
Dinner: A traditional, Old South Christmas dinner will be at the hotel, featuring Chef Lynn Johnson who teaches recipes and cooking techniques.
Evening: During the dinner, Chef Lynn Johnson, who trained under Wolfgang Puck of California, will conduct an interactive cooking class that features three courses of traditional Christmas foods in the Deep South. Road Scholars will enjoy eating the foods they have watched being prepared by the chef and fellow Road Scholars. Chef Lynn will discuss recipes, history of the foods, and cooking techniques. Souvenir recipes will be distributed.
Activity note: walking
Breakfast: A buffet breakfast is served beginning at 6:30 a.m. in the hotel dining room.
Morning: Programs about Natchez history and architecture and decorative arts by two highly regarded professionals. Attend a concert of seasonal music at Trinity Episcopal Church.
Lunch: Lunch will be at Magnolia Hall, the last mansion built before the Civil War. A guided visit of the mansion follows the buffet luncheon.
Afternoon: Stroll along the historic downtown streets with a history buff. Visit historic Rosalie (1822), a National Historic Landmark mansion in downtown Natchez, decorated for the holidays. Wind up the afternoon with a complimentary glass of wine at the hotel.
Dinner: Dinner is on your own in one of Natchez's many renowned restaurants. Pick from top-rated, high quality cuisine and wine to down-home comfort food, all delicious. Road Scholar staff will assist with recommendations.
Evening: Free evening with options: (1) A free drive-by of lighted, three-dimensional Christmas vignettes with dancing figures and music; (2) "A Natchez Christmas Carol" at Natchez Little Theatre @ $15, based on Charles Dickens' famous story; (3) "A Christmas Cabaret," hosted by the Natchez Festival of Music at the Convention Center @ $45. Tickets for (2) and (3) are available in advance by going to www.visitnatchez.org.
Activity note: walking
Breakfast: Breakfast will be in the hotel breakfast room beginning at 7 a.m.
Morning: Enjoy learning about "The Mississippi: A River of Change" by the author of a new book about the subject. Then learn about Christmas in wealthy Natchez in the 19th and 20 centuries. Next be entranced by the William Johnson story of Free Blacks in Natchez.
Lunch: A buffet luncheon is at the hotel.
Afternoon: Walk to the nearby William Johnson House, built in the mid 1800s by the famous Free Black of Natchez, for a study trip through time. Exhibits and interactive history booths take you to the lives of people who literally lived between two worlds. Then revel in the hundreds of historic photographs of Natchez from 1850s to 1950s at a permanent exhibit at Natchez in Historic Photographs. Enjoy a hometown Christmas parade just outside the hotel. Wind up the day with complimentary wine at the hotel.
Dinner: Dinner is at Cotton Alley Cafe, where you'll continue learning about William Johnson as you enjoy a dinner inspired by his diary entries of 1836. Don't worry! The foods are similar to what is eaten today, but you'll get to see his description of them and then eat the chef's interpretation of them.
Evening: Enjoy a concert of classical piano music with refreshments afterward at "Chopin and Champagne," a professional event in historic Joseph Stone House. After the concert, sip champagne, wine, or juice while exploring the house and its many collections.
Activity note: walking
Breakfast: Breakfast is at the hotel beginning at 7 a.m.
Morning: Learn about the Civil War and its influence on Natchez by a local historian. An option is to attend an Advent church service at one of several historic downtown churches or another church away from downtown.
Lunch: Luncheon is at the Carriage House Restaurant on the grounds of Stanton Hall, a National Historic Landmark and one of America's most photographed mansions. The huge Christmas tree at the Carriage House is the focal point of the restaurant.
Afternoon: Explore palatial Stanton Hall, decorated for Christmas in period attire. An afternoon option is a tour of several private homes decorated for Christmas, a benefit event for the public library, $15 pp, payable at the door of the first house you visit. Late afternoon is a reading of Eudora Welty's "A Worn Path," a story set at Christmas in Natchez. Read the story in advance and volunteer to read part of it aloud! A complimentary glass of wine at the hotel winds up the afternoon.
Dinner: Dinner is at The Pilot House at The Vue Hotel overlooking the river, following a theme of "The 12 Days of Christmas." You'll enjoy "Three French Hens" and all the trimmings.
Evening: Annual crowd-pleasing Christmas concert by the Alcorn State University Choir, a group that entertained in Washington, D.C., at President Obama's first inauguration. Concert to be held in historic St. Mary (Catholic) Basilica.
Breakfast: Breakfast is at the hotel beginning at 6:30 a.m.
Morning: Check out of the hotel by 11 a.m.