Christmas celebrations are steeped in history with traditions spanning centuries. To discover them, unlike Ebenezer Scrooge, you don’t have to depend on the Ghost of Christmas Past. Simply take a historic holiday tour.
Daniel Boone Home Candlelight Tour
Nestled in the Femme Osage Valley in St. Charles County located along Hwy. F outside of Defiance, Missouri, is the Historic Daniel Boone Home & Boonefield Village, a collection of 19th century buildings used to interpret life on the Missouri frontier. The Boone Home Christmas Candlelight Tour is an evening filled with colorful and diverse programs, music and demonstrations that transports visitors back in time to 1819, the last Christmas before Boone’s death.
Each candlelight tour begins with a stop at the Boone Home for a visit with Daniel before setting out on the village path where thousands of candles light the way from house to house. Costumed musicians, singers and crafters entertain. Visitors can take their time touring and enjoying a complimentary cup of hot apple cider and homemade cookies.
Daniel Boone Home Christmas Candlelight Tour: Dec 5-6 and 12-13. Gates open at 5:30 Cost for adults is $15, $10 for children 4 – 11 years. Children under 3 free. To reserve tickets call 636-798-2005.
Historic St. Charles Christmas Traditions
Celebrating the holidays in Historic St. Charles is extra special this year – 2014 marks the 40th anniversary of Christmas Traditions.
Staged along St. Charles Main Street and riverfront, Christmas Traditions invites visitors to shop and savor events representing Christmases from the American colonial period to the Victorian age. Central to the experience are encounters with historic and international Santas and whimsical winter icons such as Jack Frost and the Sugar Plum Fairy. These jolly characters participate in the Santa Parade traveling along Main Street at 1:30 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday until Christmas Day.
Historic St. Charles Christmas Traditions: Festival hours Wednesdays and Fridays 6:30-9 p.m., Saturdays 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sundays at noon to 5 p.m. Christmas Eve 11 a.m.-2 p.m. For a complete schedule of special events click on www.historicstcharles.com.
Thornhill’s Candlelight Tour
West St. Louis County is another holiday destination.
Thornhill, the home of Frederick Bates, Missouri’s second governor, is located within Faust Park. A first for the holiday season, St. Louis County Parks and Recreation will host Candlelight Tours of Thornhill, Dec. 12-14.
“Thornhill has seen many holiday seasons since 1820 when it was new,” said museum tour guide Micha Kornblum. Candles will illuminate the grounds and Clement Moore’s “Night Before Christmas” will be recited in the historic barn. Cookies and apple cider also will be shared with visitors in the detached kitchen behind the main house, where period dressed docents will assist visitors with self-guided tours.
Candlelight Tours of Thornhill: December 12 & 13 6-10 p.m., Sunday December 14, 12-4 p.m.. Cost for adults $8, children 4-12 years $5. Children four and under are free.
For information click or call www.stlouisco.com/parksandrecreation or 314-615-8328.
Tower Grove House Victorian Christmas and Garden Glow
Holiday history also is found inside the Missouri Botanical Garden, where the dazzling lights of Garden Glow add to the splendor of Tower Grove House, the 19th century home of garden founder Henry Shaw. The Italianate Victorian three-story mansion designed by George Barnett is bedecked with garlands, miniature lights, candles and historical-themed holiday decorations.
Tower Grove House is open for day tours and serves as a featured destination during Garden Glow.
Visitors are invited inside to explore the mansion’s three floors and enjoy the decorations on the main floor of the old wing, the area Henry Shaw occupied. The front parlor and dining room are set for holiday entertaining as is the informal dining room. The tour continues outside with a stroll through the illuminated Victorian boxwood maze.
Before Christmas 2014 becomes numbered with Christmases past, take a trip back in time at one of these area destinations.
Town Grove House at the Missouri Botanical Garden: Admission to Tower Grove is included in both the Garden’s general admission or Garden Glow tickets. Holiday hours 9 a.m.-4 p.m daily, admission $8 for adults (St Louis County residents $4) children under 12 are free. Cost for Garden Glow is $16 for adults and $10 for Children ages 3-12. Information and tickets contact www.missouribotanicalgarden.org or 314-577-5100.