If you missed the official kickoff to the holiday season (which, according to the National Park Foundation is the tree lighting in our nation’s capitol and not Black Friday) do not fret – opportunities still exist to celebrate the spirit of the season in the nation’s showpieces before the end of the month.
The National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, has revealed its picks for holiday festivities not to be missed this year.
Indiana – Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Dec. 10, visitors can take part in Holiday Traditions in the Dunes including activities in four different park locations, tree decorating and a live performance from Nordic Kids.
Iowa – Herbert Hoover National Historic Site Through Dec. 4, the birthplace of Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States, will host “A Christmas Past” events.
Louisiana – Cane River Creole National Historical Park Stop by the Magnolia Plantation Overseer’s house Dec. 10 for Christmas crafts and live music by the LaCour Trio. The whole plantation complex will be open for self guided tours.
Missouri – Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Come out and enjoy the 2011 Historic Holiday Traditions Weekend Series Dec. 10 and 17. The Historical Old Courthouse will feature music and activities that will take place in the rotunda, which will be adorned beautifully with Victorian decorations. Complimentary cookies and juice will be served during all weekend events.
Montana – Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site Dec. 4, explore the elegant Kohrs’ family ranch house. It will be decorated to reflect a Victorian Christmas.
Nebraska – Homestead National Monument of America Through Dec. 31, the Winter Festival of Prairie Cultures celebrates the winter traditions of people who lived on the Great Plains during the homesteading era.
New York – Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site Visit the Vanderbilt Mansion through Dec. 21 to view the holiday decorations; or kick off the holiday season at the special Holiday Open House Dec. 4.
Ohio – Cuyahoga Valley National Park Journey to the North Pole on The Polar Express™ Children’s Holiday Train through Dec. 20. Enjoy hearing a reading of The Polar Express™ en route to the North Pole. Passengers are encouraged to wear their pajamas. Cookies and hot chocolate are served.
Utah – Golden Spoke National Historic Site Dec. 28 – 30, visitors can take part in the annual Winter Steam Festival and watch one of their locomotives in action, as well as at rest in the same spot where the transcontinental railroad was completed over 142 years ago.
Washington – Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Friday evenings through mid-December visitors take park in a guided lantern tour through the Fur Store, the Counting House, and Bake House. You will learn what activities would have occurred once the sun set at Fort Vancouver.
Washington, D.C. – The White House and President’s Park After kicking off the holiday season with The National Christmas Tree Lighting Dec. 1, visitors are invited to Santa’s Workshop to meet Santa and his elves and enjoy holiday music performances throughout the month of December.
For more information on these and any other events happening in America’s national parks, visit www.nps.gov.