Step back in time and enjoy the holidays the old-fashioned way with a Dickens of a Christmas celebration in historic downtown New Bern, North Carolina. Plan your day or weekend trip now to shop, dine, visit Santa, and Light Up Your Holiday Season
The Christmas season starts Friday, November 25, 2011 with the arrival of Santa Claus for the “Light Up the Season” celebration. Santa will arrive by horse and carriage, where he will “light up” Bear Plaza amid much fanfare with a very special assistant!
You can visit Santa every Friday (4:00 to 8:00 pm), Saturday (10:00 am to 5:00 pm), and Sunday (12:00 to 4:00 pm) at our beautifully decorated Santa’s House located in festive Bear Plaza (Middle Street between Pollock and S. Front Streets) through Saturday, December 24 (10:00 am to 2:00 pm). Have your picture taken with Santa (for just $5!). Leave Santa a letter with your “wish list” and return address in Santa’s Mail Box, and Santa will answer all letters to good girls and boys! While visiting Santa, drop off a toy for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program or canned food for the Religious Community Service (RCS). Note, drop offs will only be accepted when the Santa House is open.
Lights, lights, lights, all over downtown! Every Friday from November 25 until December 16, there are two Dickens of a Christmas Trolley Tours (scheduled for 5:30 and 7:00 pm). Enjoy a one-hour guided tour of New Bern’s Historic Downtown Business District. This will be a wonderful and fun opportunity to see the unique decorations and lights that our downtown merchants will showcase, and your chance to learn about New Bern’s interesting history and unique architecture. For more information and reservations, call New Bern Tours at 252-637-7316. The cost is $10 per person.
“It’s a Wonderful Wreath” decorating contest for our downtown businesses and shops was such a hit last year, we are bringing it back bigger and better, and incorporating the “Dickens Detective” treasure map. It’s a fun way to get the whole family involved in the Christmas Spirit. Although the “Dickens Detective” is designed for ages 6 thru 12, anyone can do it! All you have to do is pick up a map at any business that has a wreath and the hunt is on! Don’t forget to go on line at www.NewBernSJ.com and vote for your favorite wreath that best depicts the “spirit” of the business!
Bring your camera to not only capture the lasting memories created by your visit to downtown New Bern, take your photo at the Kissing Stations and as a Dickens character in the “passé-tetes,” a Dickens-themed “head-in-a-hole” in Bear Plaza. These photo opportunities are quickly becoming holiday traditions!
Tryon Palace is offering 250 years of America’s holiday traditions with “Music, Mirth, and Merriment,” from November 25, 2011 – January 5, 2012. This historic site will celebrate the season with special programs, tours, and craft activities throughout the month and will display seasonal decorations from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. Experience an eighteenth-century candlelit Christmas celebration during the Grand Illumination Saturdays, December 10 and 17, from 5:00 to 9:00 pm. The evening includes a tour through the Palace (and perhaps a word or two with Governor Tryon!), performances by Tryon Palace’s Fife and Drum Corps and Jonkonnu troupe, and an assortment of performers. The evening ends with a grand illumination (fireworks) over the South Lawn. The tours of the Palace during the Grand Illumination are timed tours, and tickets must be purchased in advance. Call the Palace at 252-639-3524 or 1-800-767-1560 for more information, or visit www.tryonpalace.org.
Christ Episcopal Church, located in the 300 block of Pollock Street, will sponsor a Community Sing of your favorite Christmas carols at 6:00 pm on Thursday, December 15.
The 13th Annual Cookie Walk will be held at the Ministry Center on Middle Street from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on Saturday, December 10 (pay by the pound!), while being serenaded by the Middle Street Moods. Christmas Eve services will be held at 3:00 pm, 7:00 pm, and 10:00 pm on Saturday, December 24. Everyone is welcome.
There are many more special events planned:
-The Holly and Ivy Tour, sponsored by The New Bern Woman’s Club, will be held on Saturday, December 10, from 12:00 to 5:00 pm. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 on the day of the tour. Tickets will be available after November 1 at the Craven County Visitors Center, Harris Teeter, and the Bank of the Arts. For more information, call (252)514-2936.
-Bear City Opry Christmas Show is a musical that is fun for the whole family. The show features live music of all kinds played like you heard in the good ole days! December 3 and 10 at 6:00 pm at the Masonic Theatre (shows are 7:00 to 9:00 pm), 516 Hancock Street. Tickets are $12 in advance, and $15 at the door; tickets for children under the age of 12 are $5. For more information and ticketing call 252-670-7082.
- Get in the Holiday Spirit by joining carolers from across the community in singing favorite Christmas Carols. This year, Craven Brass will add to the festivities! Join us in the 300 block of Pollock Street (which will be closed to vehicular traffic at 5:45) on Thursday, December 15 at 6:00 pm. For more information, contact Gen Bolena at 252-633-2109.
-“Christmas in-a-Shoebox” is the story of the Stewarts, a family of sharecroppers who reside in rural North Carolina two miles outside of Kinston. On this midday, we find them gathered in the living room of their small plank farmhouse two days before Christmas in the early 1960’s. Snow is falling as they sing holiday songs. Mama and Daddy Stewart, along with their two grandchildren, are heading to town in the old pick-up truck. Left behind are six other children. Sibling bantering, an unexpected guest, a special cake, an advancing snow storm and a stranger on the muddy path make this a hilarious original family play, reminding us of a distant time no more and the true meaning of Christmas. Enjoy warm cider and cookies before the event. Co-sponsored by the North Carolina Association of Black Storytellers (NCABS). This event will be held in the Cullman Performance Hall at Tryon Palace, Sunday, December 11 at 3:00 pm. The cost is $6 per adult, $3 per student. For more information, call Brandon Anderson at 252-639-3584.
-Plan to attend the Tree Lighting Ceremony, Friday, December 2, 2011 at xxx (time?). The Flotilla on the confluences of the Trent and Neuse Rivers, Saturday, December 3, at xxx (time?), and the Christmas Parade, Saturday, December 3, at xxx(time?). The area B&Bs will host their annual Open House Sunday, December 4, from (xxxx time?).
Enjoy a slower paced, more enjoyable atmosphere where shopping can still be fun at the many unique art galleries, shops, and restaurants that will be open throughout the Dickens events. Make it a day or a weekend trip; the celebrations are perfect for a “Girls Shopping Getaway!” Many stores are open late on Fridays.
New Bern offers warm and welcoming accommodations ranging from B&B’s and inns, to affordably priced hotels; several are pet-friendly. There is plenty to do in the area, and New Bern is conveniently located off Highways 17 and 70 in Eastern North Carolina, located just two hours from Raleigh and one hour from the beach.
Many more special events are being planned by the Downtown Council of the New Bern Area Chamber of Commerce. The most up-to-date information is on www.downtownnewbern.blogspot.com or www.visitnewbern.com , or visit the Chamber’s web site at www.newbernchamber.com . You can also call the Chamber of Commerce at 252-637-3111 or the Convention and Visitors Center at 1-800-437-5767.