Chestnuts on an open fire, steaming mugs of cider and cocoa. All the heat of the season but there might be one thing missing. Have you checked your holiday tours list twice? Take a breather with the fam by going on a candlelight tour. Besides, the magic of the season is best when done by the flicker of a tiny flame. We’ve got some of the best and brightest treks, sure to make your wish list again next year.


Mount Vernon by Candlelight
Jonesing for a dose of silent night? Get a sample of Christmas before electronics ruled the world and celebrate the yuletide 18th Century America style. Silence the cellphone and take a gander at Martha and George’s festive holiday décor, Aladdin the camel, carols sung by the fire and candlelit walks. Can you keep a secret? The hush-hush, and rarely seen third floor (aka Martha’s elegant garret chamber) will be open, too.  That’s not all. Free cookies, hot cider and a blazing campfire keep the whole event going through the holiday season.

When: Sat. and Sun., through Dec. 22 (5 pm-8 pm)
Cost: $22/adults; $15/kids under 11

3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy, (Mount Vernon, Va)

Candlelight Tour of Historic Houses of Worship
Your family doesn’t have to be particularly religious or of a specific denomination to enjoy the beauty that is a candlelit church, cathedral, or synagogue. Twenty-seven years strong, this divine program starts at sunset when a dozen historic houses of worship open their doors for families to come in and listen to choirs, check out nativity scenes, or just wander the pews of the famous chapels. If the awe-inspiring walks work up kiddo’s appetite, don’t fret. Some spots, including All Saints Epicsopal Church and Saint John the Evangelist Catholic Church, offer free snacks for those tightening bellies.

When: Dec. 26, 4 pm-9 pm
Cost: Free

Pick up a map from the Frederick Visitor Center
151 S. East St. (Frederick, Md)

Candlelight Tours at Sully Historic Site
Don’t leave Loudoun County off your list this time of year. A trip to Sully Historic Site should definitely make your list of must-do’s.  Go back in time to the elegant home of Richard Bland Lee, circa 1794. Get in the Victorian spirit with costumed characters, sit by the fire and take part in some old-fashioned caroling. Wait! What’s that sound?  It’s Ole Saint Nick! The sound of authentic Victorian jingle bells will alert the little ones that St. Nicholas is on his way to give them a treat. Sleigh photos are there for the taking as well as traditional cookies and cider. Civil War and Jane Austen themed holiday tours are also available by candlelight.

When: Dec. 21, tours start at 5 pm and run in 15 minute increment
Cost: $8

3650 Historic Sully Way (Chantilly, Va)

Have you been on a cool candlelight tour with your family? Tell us about it in the Comments section below. 

—Victoria Mason

Photo courtesy of Roseinthegarden via Flickr

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