Afternoon: 4-5 p.m. Registration in the hotel lobby. At 5:30 p.m. is a complimentary glass of wine or soft drink at the lounge in the hotel.
Dinner: A traditional, Old South Christmas dinner will be at the hotel.
Evening: During the dinner, comments by the chef will enlighten Road Scholars as they enjoy eating some of the food they have watched being prepared. At 7:45 p.m. is a Welcome-to-Natchez session at the hotel, with overview of the Road Scholar program.
Activity note: Walking 1 mile at noon and during the afternoon. Seats available at field trip sites. Climbing stairs to second floor of Magnolia Hall and Rosalie mansions. No elevators.
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 in Natchez before the Civil War.
Afternoon: Explore Magnolia Hall and its collections of decorative arts and historic clothing. Then stroll one block from Magnolia Hall to the mansion Pleasant Hill, the private home of John and Valerie Bergeron. Lavishly decorated for the holidays, the home has a distinct connection to Magnolia Hall, which your hosts will tell you. Then walk four blocks to Natchez Grand Hotel for a 3 p.m. lecture about William Johnson, a Free Black in early Natchez whose home has been restored by the National Park Service. Wind up the afternoon with a complimentary glass of wine or a soft drink 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 Christmas Cabaret," hosted by the Natchez Festival of Music at the Convention Center @ $35. Tickets for (2) and (3) are available in advance by going to www.visitnatchez.org.
Activity note: Walking 1 mile during the afternoon. Seats available at field trips sites. Climbing stairs to photo gallery at First Presbyterian Church. Elevator under repair. Standing to watch 20-minute Christmas parade.
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 20th centuries.
Lunch: A buffet luncheon is at the hotel.
Afternoon: Stroll two blocks along the top of the Mississippi River Bluff from the Natchez Grand Hotel to visit historic Rosalie (1822), a National Historic Landmark mansion in downtown Natchez, decorated for the holidays. Then 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 go one block to 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 or soft drink 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 .8 mile at noon and during the afternoon. Climbing stairs to second floor at Stanton Hall. Optional afternoon benefit house tour can be done on foot or by car/taxi. Three of the four houses on tour are near each other and require walking 1 mile from the hotel and back. The fourth house requires walking another 1 mile from the hotel and back.
Breakfast: Breakfast is at the hotel beginning at 7 a.m.
Morning: Learn about slavery, the Civil War, race, and Reconstruction and their influence on Natchez by a magnetic Natchez historian. An option is to attend a church service at one of several historic downtown churches or another historic church away from downtown.
Lunch: Buffet 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 Carriage House is almost as famous as the mansion.
Afternoon: Explore palatial Stanton Hall, decorated for Christmas in period attire. An afternoon option is a tour of several downtown 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. Volunteer to read part of it aloud! A complimentary glass of wine or soft drink 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.