Among the first of the great houses in the region to celebrate the Christmas season is Oatlands Plantation near Leesburg, Va. The holiday season at Oatlands opens on Saturday and continues through Dec. 22.
Decorations throughout this classic revival mansion re-create a Victorian Yuletide, with kissing balls of aromatic boxwood and arrangements of magnolia leaves, pine cones, fruits and nuts. Much of the material used is gathered from the plantation grounds, and the decorations are reconstructed from descriptions in a diary of Elizabeth Grayson Carter Beach, who was born at Oatlands in 1867. A large pine tree in the drawing room will be trimmed in the Victorian fashion with strings of popcorn, dried apple ladies, yards of ribbon and paper chains.
During candlelight tours on Saturday evenings from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., living history vignettes will be presented throughout the 18-room mansion. Costumed volunteers will depict the excitement of Christmas Eve as they trim the Christmas tree, set the table for Christmas dinner and sing carols in the drawing room. Complimentary refreshments of hot cider and home-baked cookies will be served. Admission is $6.
Regular daytime tours will be offered daily (except Thanksgiving Day) from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $5.
Oatlands is on U.S. 15, six miles south of Leesburg. For information, call (703) 777-3174.
Museum shops from around the region will provide an opportunity to buy some unique gifts during the second annual Festival of Museum Shopping at the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington Saturday and next Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sponsored by the Delaware Trust Company, the festival brings 20 museum shops from Maryland, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey to the Hagley to sell a wide assortment of gift items at varied prices. You'll find Egyptian mummy bead necklaces and one-of-a-kind American Indian jewelry from the University Museum of Archaeology/Anthropology; fraktur work and scherenschnitte from Ephrata Cloister, miniature German chests from the Hershey Museum of American Life, nautical books from the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Shakespearean memorabilia from the Folger Shakespeare Memorial Library and reproduction Victorian children's books from Rockwood Museum among the choices. Other participating museums are American Swedish Historical Museum, Delaware Art Museum, Delaware Museum of Natural History, Hagley Museum and Library, Historical Society of Delaware, Landis Valley Museum, Montgomery County Historical Society, Museums of Kent County, National Gallery of Art, National Museum of Racing, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Philadelphia Zoological Society, Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education and Wheaton Village.
Food will be available at both the Hagley's Soda House and the Library. Admission is $3, free for children under 6. For this event use the Buck Road entrance, off Route 100. For information, call (302) 658-2400, Ext. 305, weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
The annual Christmas Shopping Faire in St. Mary's City is scheduled Saturday and next Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the 19th century Brome-Howard House, located on the grounds of the state's outdoor museum.
The fair will feature reproductions of 17th century jewelry and pottery, Victorian ornaments and Christmas cards, and a historic St. Mary's City Christmas Stocking with depictions of the Old State House and Maryland Dove. Refreshments of hot cider and cookies will be served. Admission is free. Farthing's Ordinary, the museum's re-created 17th century inn, will be open both days for lunch between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Reservation are being taken for the Christmas Madrigal Evenings on Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 2, 8 and 9 at the Old State House. The evening includes a wassail hour, festive gourmet dinner, entertainment by St. Maries Musica and a playlet by the St. Maries Citty Players. Tickets cost $35. Call (301) 862-0965.
St. Mary's City is on Route 5 in Southern Maryland. For information, call (301) 862-0990.
The 34th annual Grand Army of the Republic Remembrance Da scheduled in Gettysburg, Pa., on Saturday. The 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Fife & Drum Corps will lead the parade from Gettysburg Recreation Park to Gettysburg National Military Park at 2 p.m. It will be followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the Albert J. Woolson monument in Zeigler Grove (Woolson was the last survivor of the Grand Army of the Republic).
The day continues with a program of Remembrance Day tributes at the National Park Service Cyclorama Auditorium at 3:45 p.m. In the evening a dinner will be held at the Holiday Inn ballroom in Gettysburg followed by the annual Blue-Gray Ball at 9 p.m. The ball, a Civil War period dance, is open to the public. Admission is $5. For information, call (717) 334-6274.