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A Carolina Christmas

Have you ever wanted to step back in time, and celebrate Christmas the Colonial way? Thanks to a partnership between Natural and Cultural Resources, Edenton, Bath and New Bern, we've made it easy for you to experience the splendor of 1700s holiday right here in North Carolina. 

Historic Edenton State Historic Site

Begin your Carolina Christmas weekend in Edenton, considered by many to be the prettiest town in the south. That afternoon, tour the Roanoke River Lighthouse along the edge of Edenton Bay, the last lighthouse of its kind still standing. Then tour the annual “groaning board” Christmas at the James Iredell House, home to colonial leader and George Washington's appointee to the first United States Supreme Court. It is a display of Southern Hospitality at its finest with the table so full of cookies that the boards groan!

Now that you are definitely in the holiday spirit, stop by the Cupola House for Wassail, the Chowan Arts Council for a Confection Perfection treat and continue your tour with the annual Candlelight Tour of historic homes decorated for the season. 

Join the Edenton State Historic Site for its “Caroling in the Courthouse” to hear the traditional sounds of Christmas as they echo off of the walls of the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse, a National Historic Landmark, and one of the most important Colonial buildings still standing in the state.

All of these sites are within walking distance of restaurants and shops along the coastal quaint streets of Edenton, known for its collection of truly interesting inns. Stay the night and have breakfast, then get ready for a fun day in Bath.

All programs except for the Candlelight Tour of Homes are free and do not require tickets. Get your tickets for the tour early. This program tends to sell out quickly.


Historic Bath State Historic Site

Leave Edenton after a good hearty, winter breakfast and take the scenic drive to North Carolina’s "First Town, First Port" and one-time home to Blackbeard, Bath. Surrounded by the beauty of the Pamlico Sound, Historic Bath State Historic Site tells the story of a place where politics and piracy intermingled in the activities of the citizens as they ran the state’s first port, first library and what is now the state’s oldest extant church, St. Thomas.

On this special Colonial Christmas weekend, there will be morning activities for the whole family and an open house from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. where guests can enjoy the harpsichord performances in the Palmer-Marsh House, home to the early colony’s surveyor general and port collector.

Walk to the decorated 1830 Bonner House and smell Christmas wafting in from the kitchen where interpreters are busy cooking and feasting. Children will enjoy the activities designed just for them—as well as the Children’s Christmas Art Show, held in the 1921 Bath High School building.

There will be seasonal community performances on site, as well. Sip some cider, have some ginger bread, and don’t forget to walk to Bonner’s Point, where the large creeks at the tip of Bath’s peninsula meet to make history. It’s one of the most scenic places in the state.

After taking one last look, return to your car for your ride to New Bern. Depending upon when you leave, you may want to have lunch in Bath or wait and travel a few miles to Washington, N.C., the first place ever named for the father of our country. There are restaurants galore along the riverfront where, if time allows, you can add a bit of Natural History to your weekend with a stop at the North Carolina Estuarium.

All programs in Bath are free and do not require tickets.

Tryon Palace

Arrive in New Bern by at least 5 p.m. Then, travel to the centerpiece of the community, Governor William Tryon’s home and the seat of North Carolina’s colonial government, long known as Tryon Palace.

For decades, the Palace has hosted its candlelight celebration with a yearly changing theme. Merriment, drama, and romance fill the air this holiday season when Tryon Palace celebrates its 36th annual Candlelight Christmas Celebration.

Step back in time to a critical point in the Revolutionary War in the year 1781. Celebrate 12th Night and the return of John Stanly with the Stanly Family in 1803, after Stanly fled the state upon killing former Governor Richard Dobbs Spaight in a duel a year earlier. Enjoy a children’s Christmas to remember in the Dixon House where George Dixon is helping his family recover from the New Bern fire of June 1835. The 1950s come to life in the Commission House, where Mr. and Mrs. Mohn are hosting a Christmas Eve party with family and friends.

Enjoy the magic and wonder of circus acts, fire eating, sword swallowing, acrobatics, historical interpretations, and 18th-century magic tricks from The Pickled Brothers Circus, Signora Bella, and Rodney the Younger. While touring the candlelit grounds, stop in at the all-new tavern on the main lawn for dinner and refreshments. Then, end your enchanted evening with a display of black powder fireworks illuminating the night sky over Tryon Palace.

Tickets are required for Candlelight at Tryon Palace. Get your tickets early. This program tends to sell our quickly.