Two historic houses in the Hudson Valley are offering 21st century visitors a chance to see the holidays as they were celebrated before the dawn of electric lights, courtesy of romantic, candlelit tours taking place in December. Throughout the month, Washington Irving’s Sunnyside in Tarrytown and Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson are fully dressed for the holidays in authentic period style. But this special opportunity for evening tours takes place only on selected weekend nights.
Van Cortlandt Manor candlelight tours take place Friday and Saturday, Dec. 22-23, and 29-30. Tours are offered from 4-8 each evening, and reservations are a must. Tickets may be purchased online at www.hudsonvalley.org or by calling 914-631-8200, Ext. 618.
After a tour of the Manor House, all decorated for Christmas and featuring a harpist in the formal parlor, a guide carrying a candlelit lantern brings visitors to the site’s Ferry House, where a first-person account of Twelfth Night takes place, featuring the Lord of Misrule who leads the festivities. At the Ferry House, visitors are encouraged to dance to fiddle music and toast the season with cider and cookies near the warmth of a bonfire.
Sunnyside and the romantic landscape it’s nestled in along the Hudson will be entirely lit by candlelight for four evenings: Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9-10, and 16-17. Tours are offered from 4-8 each evening, and reservations are a must. Tickets may be purchased online at www.hudsonvalley.org or by calling 914-631-8200, Ext. 618.
In the house, quotes from Washington Irving and a bounty of candles help illuminate the holiday experience. A special treat takes place in the parlor, where Irving’s circa 1830s pianoforte is played and visitors are invited to join in singing Christmas carols. At the end of the tour, hot cider is served outside, where visitors can stay warm next to a bonfire.
Candlelight evenings at Sunnyside will also feature musical performances. Dates and performers are: Saturday, Dec. 9, the choir from the Sacred Heart Church in Hartsdale; Sunday, Dec. 10, the music department from Hackley School in Tarrytown; Saturday, Dec. 16, the Westchester Chorale; Sunday, Dec. 17, the Dobbs Ferry High School Choir.
Tickets for Candlelight tours are $12 for adults, and $6 for children 5-17. Children under five are admitted free. For members of Historic Hudson Valley, tickets are $6 for adults. Sunnyside is open daily except Tuesday from 10-4 through Dec. 31. Van Cortlandt Manor is open weekends from 10-4 through Dec. 31. All Historic Hudson Valley sites are closed on Christmas Day.