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Special Holiday Events

Williamsburg...
Destination Expert
for Williamsburg
posts: 5,857
reviews: 41
Special Holiday Events

I subscribe to the Mount Vernon.org newsletter, and just today I received the newsletter announcing special events for the holidays at Mount Vernon, including the Mount Vernon by Candlelight event. I hope we are able to attend this year, and I'd like to read about it by folks who have been.

mountvernon.org/calendar/view/2011-11-25/4145

1 reply
Washington DC...
posts: 3
reviews: 28
1. Re: Special Holiday Events

What a truly disappointing experience! $20 is for the tour only - if you want to go early and see the Estate, you need to purchase another $15 ticket.

At 5:05PM we waited at the main gate for our 5:15P entrance time. At 5:20P it was announced that all 5:30P ticket holders could go in. What happened to the 5:15P entrance time? No answer to that - just a comment that we should not worry ... we could go in and have our candlelight tour.

We entered to find several hundred people waiting just like us. The small gift shop was closed and the period entertainment was barely audible. It took 25 minutes to be called, and once we walked the candlelit path, we were ushered to a small outside area where we had to wait another 15 minutes in a field. There were 2 small tents - one where small cups of cider and ginger cookies were being served (neither good) and another small tent where there was Christmas caroling. One could also stand by kettle fires - thankfully the weather was warm and we didn't need them.

FINALLY, an hour after the time on our candlelight tour tickets, we were called. We were greeted by a Mount Vernon staffer in 21st century clothing who is carrying a candle lantern and we are taken to the path that goes to the mansion. At each of the 5-6 "stations" where we stop, the staffer takes 30-60 seconds to tell us about a particular Christmas in the life of the Washington's. Finally we are deposited at the mansion.

We enter into the Servant's Hall where a man in period costume greets us to say how excited he is to be at the Washington's home. We are out of that area in 2 minutes and into the dining room where Mrs. Washington finally makes an "appearance". She's sitting next to the dining table and chats for a few minutes until a 21st century staffer tells her that other guests have arrived, so out we go. Next we enter the main hall where we meet the Washington's grand daughter - 2 minutes of her talking and we're ushered up the stairs where we meet a slave who tells about all the work she has to do. 2 minutes later we're headed back downstairs where we go into the office of General Washington's personal secretary. Lastly, we are in the kitchen and the housekeeper chats with us - she's actually quite entertaining. Out we go and it's over - less than 10 minutes in the house with no time to see any of the rooms and certainly no time to ask questions.

I called Mount Vernon to ask whether any of the buildings would be open after the candlelight tour, and was told no. Thankfully, that is not the case and the buildings surrounding the mansion were open and the blacksmith shop actually working. We didn't stop, but there was also dancing in the greenhouse.

All in all this was a very poorly orchestrated event spent mostly waiting and there was virtually no interaction with period characters or time to see the house. Also, if you want to see the Christmas area of the mansion (3rd floor), you'll have to brave HUNDREDS of people waiting in a crawling line to be shuttled through the house like cattle - we estimated 300-500 waiting for the 4:40P entrance time!

Do NOT waste your time and money! Go to Williamsburg instead. There is SO much more to see and do, and many of the Christmas events including walking around the historic area to see all the beautiful decorations and Grand Illumination, are FREE!

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