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Best Historic Christmas Celebrations in New England

Best Historic Christmas Celebrations in New England
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In a region as rich in history as New England, taking a trip to the Christmas past is easy, and doesn’t require help (or a visit) from any Dickensian spirits. If you’re feeling historically festive, you can head to one of the region’s many terrific living history museums for special holiday programs, or tour a historic house or two for examples of Christmas decor and style from different eras of New England history.

Here are some of our favorite places to experience the best historic Christmas celebrations in New England. Which is your favorite?

The Great Hall of The Breakers decorated for Christmas in Newport.
Photo/Art by The Preservation Society of Newport County
The Great Hall of The Breakers decorated for Christmas in Newport.

Newport, Rhode Island | Christmas at the Newport Mansions (November 21, 2015 – January 3, 2016)

Prepare to be sparkled and dazzled as you tour three of the magnificent Newport Mansions (The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House) decked out in Gilded Age Yuletide finery, including thousands of poinsettias, fresh flowers, evergreens, wreaths, and more than 20 Christmas trees. At The Breakers, don’t miss the gingerbread mansion display in the kitchen or the iconic 15 foot tall red poinsettia tree.

Portland, Maine | Christmas at Victoria Mansion (November 27, 2015 – January 3, 2016)

Explore one of New England’s finest 19th century mansions decked out in glittering holiday finery. Each year a team of local designers get to work decorating each room to complement the year’s theme. Tours are self-guided, and the mansion also hosts a roster of special holiday events throughout the season.

mystic lantern light tour christmas
Photo/Art by Mystic Seaport
Lantern Light Tours at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut.

Mystic, Connecticut | Lantern Light Tours (November 27-28, December 4-5, 11-13, 18-20, 2015)

Lantern Light Tours at Mystic Seaport offer a glimpse of Christmas Eve in 1876. Seasonal delights include a traditional tavern dance, a horse-drawn carriage ride and the glow of hundreds of lanterns, not to mention the possibility of a visit from jolly St. Nick himself!

Manchester, Vermont | Christmas at Hildene (December 1-31, 2015)

Experience the beauty of a Victorian Christmas Robert Lincoln (the only surviving adult son of President Abraham Lincoln) and his wife Mary would have when they celebrated the holiday season at Hildene in 1909. On the weekend of December 5-6 the museum store welcomes visitors to shop for the holidays with special sounds and tastes of the season. And after your visit, the nearby upscale Manchester Designer Outlets are also ideal for holiday shopping.

Christmas by Candlelight at Old Sturbridge Village
Photo/Art by Erika Sidor
Christmas by Candlelight at Old Sturbridge Village

Sturbridge, Massachusetts | Christmas by Candlelight at Old Sturbridge Village (December 4-6, 11-13, 18-20, 2015)

Christmas by Candlelight at Old Sturbridge Village whisks you back to New England during the early 1800’s, with sleigh rides, Victorian carolers, Christmas readings, gingerbread and mulled cider samples, a re-creation of Mrs. Cratchit’s Christmas dinner, musical performances, the chance to vote in the annual gingerbread house contest, and so much more!

SEE MORE: Old Sturbridge Village | A Christmas by Candlelight Celebration

Salem Historic House Tours in Salem, Massachusetts
Photo/Art by Historic Salem
Festive Salem Historic House Tours in Salem, Massachusetts.

Salem, Massachusetts | Salem Historic House Tours (December 4-6, 2015)

Who needs Halloween? Trade your broomstick for a peppermint stick and enjoy a festive peek at a number of 18th and 19th century homes decorated for the holidays in historic Salem. There’s also free trolley service, dining and shopping discounts, and special events and performances throughout the city.

canterbury shaker village christmas magician
Photo/Art by Canterbury Shaker Village
19th century magic at Canterbury Shaker Village in Canterbury, NH.

Canterbury, New Hampshire | Christmas at Canterbury Shaker Village (December 5 & 12, 2015)

Enjoy the special sights and sounds of a Shaker-style Christmas at Canterbury Shaker Village. Take a candlelight stroll through the Village, watch a 19th Century magic show, enjoy live music and tasty treats, or ride in a horse drawn wagon.

Christmas at Billings Farm in Woodstock, Vermont
Photo/Art by Billings Farm & Museum/Jon Gilbert Fox
Christmas at Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock, Vermont.

Woodstock, Vermont | Christmas at Billings Farm & Museum (Select Dates Throughout December)

Discover the traditions of a 19th century Vermont farm Christmas, complete with horse-drawn sleigh and wagon rides, farmhouse tours, and the chance to make special Christmas crafts. Each weekend (including Woodstock’s popular Wassail Weekend) offers something new.

Candlelight Stroll at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, NH
Photo/Art by Strawbery Banke Museum
Candlelight Stroll at the Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, NH

Portsmouth, New Hampshire | Strawbery Banke Candlelight Stroll (December 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 2015)

Stroll through life in a simpler time as 350 years of American history, winter traditions, and holiday celebrations unfolds around you in the state’s oldest waterfront neighborhood. Activities include historic house tours, horse-drawn carriage rides, live music, traditional barrel making demonstrations, 18th century holiday hearth cooking, tinsmith demonstrations, and more.

More New England Christmas:

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Aimee Seavey


Aimee Seavey


As Yankee's Digital Editor, Aimee manages, produces, and promotes content for Yankee's digital and social media initiatives. A lifelong New Englander, she loves history and a good Massachusetts South Shore bar pizza.
Updated Monday, November 30th, 2015

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