Tryon Palace, the recreated governor's palace in New Bern, pulls out all the stops each holiday season, proving once again that the Georgian inspired showplace was the heart of North Carolina's colonial aristocracy.
Visit with historic characters in period clothing, witness holiday vignettes spanning two centuries, and experience black powder fireworks on the South Lawn. Explore the grounds and buildings of Tryon Palace to travel from 1771 through 1835, and see how New Bern residents from different times and upbringings celebrated the holidays.
Running from 4:30-9:30pm on two consecutive Saturdays, Dec 8 & 15, Tryon's Candlelight Christmas is a site-wide event encompassing the palace, the grounds, and the historic houses nearby that help make up the grounds. For this 38th annual event, each of the structures will showcase a different period in time
Governor’s Palace: 1771 – Experience the beauty, joy, and magic of the holidays as governor and Mrs. Josiah Martin invite guests into their new home for “Masquerade: A Candlelight Christmas Celebration.” To celebrate their first holiday season at Tryon Palace, the Martins are throwing a masquerade ball and guests have come from far and wide to experience a bit of fun and culture with elegant costumes and beautiful decorations based off of the four elements.
Stanly House: 1800-1801 – John and Elizabeth Stanly have recently moved into the impressive house John’s parents built. It’s time for Elizabeth to put her stamp on the house, but there’s pressure on her to meet New Bern society’s expectations and live up to the Stanly name. It’s a lot for a country girl with big shoes to fill! Tour her home and see how she meets this challenge.
Dixon House: 1835 – The Dixon House wasn’t just home to the Dixon family, but also to Dixon’s apprentices. These boys and young men learned the arts and mysteries of tailoring from New Bern’s resident expert. Take a look at a lost part of Christmas told through the apprentices’ views.
Commission House: Enjoy a visit with Santa, listen to Christmas music, write a Christmas card to New Bern’s first responders, and create your own Masquerade mask.
While walking around the candlelit grounds, be sure to catch the entertaining circus acts, fire eating, sword swallowing, and acrobatics of the Pickled Brothers Circus, the mysterious magic of 18th-century magician Rodney the Younger, the thrilling balancing act of Signora Bella, the joyous sights and sounds of the Tryon Palace Jonkonnu troupe, and much more.
Food will be available to purchase from food trucks located outside the palace gates and guests can stop by The Plucked Peacock Tavern to grab a seat and enjoy beer, wine and baked goods in a festive holiday setting. Also, warm up with hot cider and cookies from Mack’s Cider House in the Trades Building. Don't forget to end your enchanted evening with a show of black powder fireworks on the South Lawn.
Holiday decorations at the palace will be up throughout the month of December and available for view on the regular daytime tour. And they're definitely worth a trip. Boxwood wreaths are embellished with anything colonists would have been able to get their hands on – holly berries, apples, dried yarrow, pomegranates and pheasant feathers, bouquets are made with oranges and pineapple feathers and rich satin taffeta is woven through garlands that line the mantels. All decorations are designed and constructed on site with the help of staff and an entourage of volunteers.
While daytime viewers will be able to enjoy the sights – it truly comes to life during the evening celebrations. Candlelight is a rain or shine event, but fireworks may be cancelled during extreme weather conditions. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for youth and generally sell out early. Learn more at tryonpalace.org.