Best Historic Christmas Celebrations in New England
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?
Newport, Rhode Island | Christmas at the Newport Mansions (November 22, 2014 – January 4, 2015)
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. newportmansions.org
Portland, Maine | Christmas at Victoria Mansion (November 28, 2014 – January 1, 2015)
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. victoriamansion.org
Mystic, Connecticut | Lantern Light Tours (November 29, December 5-6, 12-13, 19-21, 26-27, 2014)
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! mysticseaport.org
Manchester, Vermont | Christmas at Hildene (December 1-31, 2014)
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 6-7 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. hildene.org
Sturbridge, Massachusetts | Christmas by Candlelight at Old Sturbridge Village (December 5-7, 12-14, 19-21, 2014)
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! osv.org
BONUS! See our “Explore New England” post on Old Sturbridge Village | A Christmas by Candlelight Celebration
Salem, Massachusetts | Salem Historic House Tours (December 5-7, 2014)
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. christmasinsalem.org
Canterbury, New Hampshire | Christmas at Canterbury Shaker Village (December 6 & 13, 2014)
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. shakers.org
Woodstock, Vermont | Christmas at Billings Farm & Museum (December 6-7, 13-14, 20-31, 2014)
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 offers something new. billingsfarm.org
Portsmouth, New Hampshire | Strawberry Banke Candlelight Stroll (December 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 2014)
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. strawberybanke.org
Please Note: This article 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.