Olde Tyme Christmas, a celebration spanning two weekends, kicks off Friday, Dec. 2, with an opening ceremony. A ceremonial yule log is lit and the fire from the log is spread from venue to venue throughout Harpers Ferry, lighting candles along the way.
The opening ceremony also is a chance to step back to the 19th century, with business owners, re-enactors and Harpers Ferry residents dressed in period costumes.
"Many, many people on that first evening are coming in full costume," says Jane Murto, coordinator of Olde Tyme Christmas events. "Anyone is welcome if they are re-enactors to come and participate in period costumes," she adds.
The annual Harpers Ferry Olde Tyme Christmas Arts and Craft show at the Hilltop Hotel starts Saturday, Dec. 3, and continues Sunday, Dec. 4. Both weekends of Olde Tyme Christmas, Friday, Dec. 2, through Sunday, Dec. 4, and Friday, Dec. 9, through Sunday, Dec. 11, will include chestnuts roasting along Potomac Street, live music and carolers.
St. Peter's Catholic Church will host a variety of musical performances, including concerts by Washington County, Md., high school students, harp players, Irish groups and pipe organists.
A highlight of the Christmas celebration are living nativity performances at St. Peter's at 6 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, Dec. 3 and 10.
"That's really worth it," says Wright of the living nativity. "It puts you in the spirit of Christmas."
At dusk Dec. 10, two miles of luminarias will be lit from Harpers Ferry to Bolivar.
"At night it's really pretty," Wright adds. "We're all candlelit and decorated with greens."
"There are activities all day long for adults and children," Murto says. "It's a beautiful location. It's just a total experience."
Olde Tyme Christmas includes activities each day for children at the Potomac Street tent. Many businesses and restaurants offer live music during the festivities and Harpers Ferry businesses offer extended hours, often until 9 p.m.
The National Park Service will present "Prospects of Peace: A Soldiers Prayer" Dec. 3 and 4. The program looks at Christmastime 1864 when Harpers Ferry soldiers tried to create their own version of Christmas on the battle front. Local citizens and soldiers preparing for Christmas, a Civil War-style Santa Claus giving presents to soldiers, a Victorian dance, yuletide confections and guided walking tours are part of the program.
Two weekends of holiday cheer
Here's a listing of some of the activities scheduled for the Olde Tyme Christmas weekends in Harpers Ferry, W.Va.
Friday, Dec. 2
7 p.m. - Opening ceremony, including lighting the yule log and caroling.
Saturday, Dec. 3
8 to 11 a.m. - Breakfast with Santa at the Hilltop Hotel. Also Saturday, Dec. 10.
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. - Harpers Ferry Olde Tyme Christmas Arts and Craft Show at the Hilltop Hotel. Also Sunday, Dec. 4.
10 a.m. to 9 p.m. - Shops open in Harpers Ferry
1 p.m. - Wonderment Puppet show at Children's Potomac Street tent
1 p.m. - Tuba Christmas at Secret Six Tavern
1:30 p.m. - Traditional Irish music at St. Peter's Catholic Church
6 p.m. - Living nativity at St. Peter's. Also at 8 p.m., and 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10
7 p.m. - Pipe organ concert at St. Peter's Catholic Church
Sunday, Dec. 4
10:30 a.m. - Pipe organ and violin concert at St. Peter's
11 a.m. - Mass at St. Peter's Catholic Church
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. - Shops open
Friday, Dec. 9
Shops open until 9 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 10
10 a.m. to 9 p.m. - Shops open
Noon - Harp player at St. Peter's Church
Noon to 5 p.m. - Toy train rides at Potomac Street tent
3 p.m. - Santa visit, tree lighting, music, awards ceremony and holiday gathering at Harpers Ferry Bolivar firehouse
Dusk - Luminarias will be lit from Harpers Ferry to Bolivar
7 p.m. - Caroling by St. James Youth Group
Sunday, Dec. 11
11 a.m. - Mass at St. Peter's
11 a.m. to 6 p.m. - Shops open
12:30 p.m. - Loudoun Border Guards Fife and Drum Corps on High Street
2 p.m. - Dulcimer player at The Vintage Lady and 3:30 p.m. at Westwind Potters