It’s Christmas in Natchez

Published 12:11 am Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mikey Brown, above, watches the Christmas tree lighting Friday night from the shoulders of his dad, Michael Brown. The Christams tree lighting kicked off the Christmas in Natchez celebration.

As twinkling light-threaded garlands are strung on Natchez’s grandest houses, and the downtown Christmas tree looms as a reminder of the holidays, the Christmas in Natchez Committee is preparing for a busy month of events.

Tickets are still available for ice skating on the bluff Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9 and 10. Coordinators suggested that youth groups and other organizations buy a block of tickets for ice skating.

Regina Charboneau, Christmas in Natchez Committee member, said tickets must be purchased in advance for ice skating at the Natchez Pilgrimage Tours office.

Tickets are $15 for 30 minutes of skating. Skates are provided with the fee.

“A half hour of skating will wear you out,” Charboneau said. “Just show up with your ticket, and they have everything you need.”

Professional skaters will be available to help those who might have a hard time getting used to the ice. Children under 5 are asked to be accompanied by someone 16 or older.

Natchez Downtown Development Association will be at the skating rink with hot chocolate and hot dogs.

Christmas at Melrose, a free holiday program, will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, with house tours beginning every 15 minutes.

This year’s free program focuses on the holiday season of 1861. Interpreters in period dress will guide visitors inside the decorated house.

Saturday and Sunday events run from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. with house tours beginning every half hour. Tours are limited to 15 people per tour. Tickets must be purchased at Melrose, located at 1 Melrose-Montebello Parkway.

Longwood is enveloped in Christmas lights, and guests can view the unique house from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and Dec., 8, 10, 11, 16 and 18 for $5 a car.

No Christmas in Natchez would be complete without sounds of the season.

Choirs will present Christmas songs at the Natchez Eola Hotel from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. every Thursday beginning this week.

The First Presbyterian Church choir with bells, accompanied by the children’s choir, will perform Thursday.

“It’s going to be fabulous this year,” Charboneau said. “These are some of the best choirs in the community.”

The second annual Holiday Bazaar and Merry Market, benefiting Trinity Episcopal School, will be from 9 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Natchez Convention Center.

Kathryn Nutter, co-chairperson of the bazaar, said the number of vendors participating has doubled this year.

The majority of vendors are local, joined by new vendors from across the region.

“We will have a great mix of merchants, artists, craftsmen offering a wide variety of goods to meet every need on your shopping list — from jewelry to holiday decor, fashion clothing to handmade art, stationary to collegiate gear, and a little bit of everything in between,” Nutter said.

Food and beverage vendors and gift wrapping and package storage services are included in the bazaar this year.

For those looking to be dazzled this season, the Towers Jeweled Christmas is not to be missed.

See thousands of pieces of vintage costume jewelry dating from 1860 through 1950. This display of necklaces, brooches, earrings, bracelets, rings, tiaras and crowns is a delight for all.

Tours are available at scheduled times throughout each Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 24, and Thursday, Dec. 22. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children. Visit www.thetowersofnatchez.com for more information.

Treasures on the Trace will be 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Brandon Hall on the Natchez Trace. Enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride through the beautiful grounds of Brandon Hall followed by a Christmas tour of the antebellum home. Christmas classics will be played on the grand piano.

Tickets for $15 can be purchased at Natchez Pilgrimage Tours or at the door at Brandon Hall.

The Christmas in Natchez parade will be at 6 p.m. Saturday on the streets of downtown Natchez. Fireworks over the Mississippi River will follow the parade. Charboneau said the fireworks show will be extended with more fireworks, because Saturday’s show was cancelled because of rain.

The first candlelight tour of The Burn bed and breakfast will be at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Christmas cocktails will be served. Admission is $15 for adults and $8 for students. Tours are also scheduled for Dec. 9, 10, 16 and 17. Tickets can be purchased at Natchez Pilgrimage Tours.

Santa will pose for photos from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday in the parlors of Dunleith, with brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Castle. For more information call 601-446-8500.

The Library Tour of Homes is scheduled from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Houses on tour can be viewed in any order, and include the Doyle House at 704 State St., the Callon House at 400 South Pearl St., the Maples House at 506 Orleans St., and the Staniforth House at 315 North Rankin St.

A new event this year is the refreshment center at the First Presbyterian Church, Stratton Chapel, including a gallery tour.

The cost is $15 per ticket or $25 for two, which includes all homes and refreshments. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the library or at the door of any of the homes on the day of the event. Tickets are also available at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.

The Alcorn Choir will perform at 7 p.m. St. Mary Basilica.

“This is one of the best events of the season,” Charboneau said. “It’s usually standing-room only. It’s another one of our great, free musical events.”

Natchez Little Theatre is presenting ongoing performances of “A Christmas Carol” with a Natchez twist. All show times are at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 through 18, with exception of Dec. 11 and 18 at 2 p.m. Admission is $15. For more information call 601-442-2233 or visit natchezlittletheatre.org.

Carriages, Candlelight and Christmas at Magnolia Hall and The Towers will be from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Dec. 16.

The combines elegance, romance, traditional Christmas decorations at Magnolia Hall and glamorous Jeweled Christmas at The Towers. Admission for adults is $75; students ages 8-12 $35; students age 13 to 17 $50. Tickets are on sale at Natchez Pilgrimage Tours.

The Natchez Blues Christmas Jam will be at 9 p.m. Dec. 17 at the Under-the-Hill Saloon, located at 25 Silver St.

Eric Glatzer is coordinating the event.

“It’s a real live blues jam,” Glatzer said. “We invite all local musicians to sit in with each other. Jams are usually fairly magical —individual musicians are playing because they love it, and really nice things happen. You might hear music you won’t hear elsewhere.”

Glatzer said musicians bring their best to show out and network with each other. Players should just show up with their instruments, and check in with the emcee. Each group will play three or four songs.

“It’s a musical lovers paradise,” Glatzer said. “If you want to hear some really good music, this is the place to come. It’s music at its finest.”

Glatzer said for more information, musicians can call him at 601-660-2792.

Admission is $5 for the jam, and coordinated by the Natchez Blues Heritage Association.

Rounding out Christmas in Natchez will be the Christmas High Tea at Twin Oaks from 3 to 5 p.m. Dec. 23, hosted by Charboneau, at 71 Homochitto St.

Charboneau’s champagne cocktails, tea sandwiches and holiday desserts will highlight the event.

“This event is more geared toward adults,” Charboneau said. “This is the perfect girlfriend getaway. The house will be decorated, and it will be very festive.”

Admission is $25. Call Natchez Pilgrimage Tours at 601-446-6631 for more information.

For a complete list of Christmas in Natchez events, visit the website at www.christmasinnatchez.com.