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For many people, the best part of the holiday season in the Fredericksburg region is the chance to see some of the area’s most historic homes decked out in their full holiday splendor.

Over the course of the holiday season, homes and museums throw open their doors to the public for special tours and programs. Many locals have made annual traditions out of visiting these homes and seeing the creative efforts of the designers who decorate them each year.

Here are some excellent opportunities to see historic homes decorated for the holidays in 2016:

Rising Sun Tavern will hold an open house on Dec. 2 from 6 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Come hear Colonial music and see this fascinating eighteenth-century tavern at 1304 Caroline St. While you’re downtown on this evening, also plan to stop by the James Monroe Museum at 908 Charles St. for A Monroe Christmas. This open house runs 6 p.m. until 8 p.m., and includes cider, cookies and seasonal music on the harp and pianoforte.

Mary Washington House holds its annual candlelight tour on Dec. 4 from 4:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. at 1200 Charles St. Peruse the gift shop for unique items and soak in the surroundings where George Washington’s mother once lived.

Spotsylvania’s Courthouse Christmas Luminary has become a well-loved tradition at this historic site. Come see the candles lit at 4:45 p.m. on Dec. 4 on the lawn of the Old Courthouse. Bring a lawn chair, blankets and warm gloves to stay and hear area choirs perform songs of the season. This is a lovely chance to get in the holiday spirit.

The Historic Fredericksburg Foundation’s 46th Annual Candlelight Tour offers the chance to tour some of Fredericksburg’s most historic homes Dec. 10-11. This year’s tour features homes on Winchester and Lewis streets in Downtown. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 the day of. The tour runs 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with special tickets available for an evening tour and cocktail party from 6 – 10 p.m. on Saturday. Visit for more details.

Gari Melchers’ Home and Studio at Belmont truly sparkles at the holidays. Visit Nov. 25 through Dec. 30 to see it decorated for the season in the spirit and style of the Melchers. Read more here about why Christmas is such a special time at Belmont.  

Kenmore will host its “Wee Christmas” miniatures exhibit for the third year, from Dec. 4 though 30. Visit the Crowninshield building to see detailed dollhouses, including a replica of Kenmore itself. This is a great family activity, as multiple generations can participate in the “I Spy Miniatures” challenge. Pair it with a tour of the restored house, or visit during Kenmore’s Twelfth Night performances Jan. 6-8.

Friends of Wilderness Battlefield will host the 8th annual “19th Century Christmas at Ellwood Manor” on Dec. 17 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. This 18th-century mansion will be decorated by the Fawn Lake Garden Club. Santa will welcome children from 9 a.m. until noon, and arts and crafts activities will be available. Live music by Evergreen Shade will be performed from noon until 2 p.m. Learn more about this event here.

Experience Christmas at Chatham on Dec. 18 from noon to 4 p.m. At this grand home where union soldiers encamped during the Civil War, you can visit with a Civil War Santa, learn about how soldiers and civilians experienced Christmas during the conflict and participate in 19th century Christmas traditions. Learn about how to make sure you get a time slot to see Santa, and about additional educational activities happening at this event here