A town gathers in the heart of downtown, a chill is in the air- possibly the anticipation of the season’s first snow, they wait buzzing with excitement. With a flick of a switch, the giant tree in the center of town illuminates every corner, storefront and the rosy-red cheeks of all that have gathered. The sweet sounds of Christmas carols soon fill the air. It’s officially the holiday season. No, this is not a scene out of a holiday movie, but one that plays out every year in Gettysburg, Pa.
The annual tree lighting ceremony kicks everything off on Nov. 23 in Lincoln Square. The following week the holiday season is in full swing with an abundance of events. On Dec. 1, the inaugural Gettysburg Christmas Festival will take over downtown Gettysburg. The town will be divided into six themed sections- including a Civil War Christmas, a Colonial, a Victorian Christmas and A Roaring 20’s Christmas, each with their own activities. The annual Christmas parade and Gingerbread Festival will take place during the Christmas Festival this year as well. Christmas carolers will be able to be heard throughout the day and the big man in red himself- Santa on the Square. This festival will be enough to make even Scrooge embrace the holiday season.
Speaking of Scrooge, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol will once again be at the Majestic Theater. Enjoy this tale of Christmas spirit and the redemption of the human soul. The show will play from Dec. 14-23.
For something a bit different than what most consider standard Christmas events, consider the Annual Holiday Tuba Carol Fest. On Dec. 14, tuba players of all ages from across the country gather on the steps of the Gettysburg Hotel and lead the crowd in song with their rich, full sounds. The low brass sounds will warm the soul while complimentary hot chocolate will warm the rest.
When the holiday season rolls around, the town of Gettysburg is strung with lights, donned with wreathes and overflowing with Christmas spirit. The quaint, small town charm which is prevalent throughout the year is only heightened during the holiday season. It’s not an uncommon sight to see a horse-drawn carriage decked out in garland and jingle-bells trot down the street. In Gettysburg, everyone slows down during the holidays to enjoy the simplicity of the season.
History is not lost during the holiday season, only tweaked to fit the time of year. The Shriver House Museum, which details the civilian experience before, during and after the Battle of Gettysburg, is decorated to depict how Christmas would look in the mid-1800’s complete with strung popcorn and hanging stockings on the mantle. The Eisenhower National Historic Site is decked out in Christmas decorations Mamie Eisenhower-style. The Eisenhower’s loved everything about the holidays- the decorations, family and massive feasts. The table is set for Christmas dinner, the tree is overflowing with tinsel and ornaments all while the former president’s holiday records play in the background.
Holiday happenings aren’t limited to town, throughout the Adams County countryside are many opportunities for Christmas fun. Christmas tree farms offer experiences that go beyond just picking out the perfect tree- you get to cut it down yourself. Many of our craft beverage makers have seasonal libations to warm the soul. Sip on a mulled wine or winter beer in the warm and cozy atmosphere of a restored barn by a fireplace or tasting room. The Adams County Pour Tour will be continuing through the holiday season giving visitors the perfect opportunity to sample the seasonal drinks and accumulate stamps in the Pour Tour passports which turn into prizes.
The season caps off with a New Year’s Eve Celebration in Lincoln Square. Throughout the evening, revelers will enjoy great food, entertainment and finally, fireworks over the iconic Lincoln Square.
A full calendar of holiday events can be found at www.destinationgettysburg.com.
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