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Holiday happenings: a north-to-south guide to the most festive and fabulous Christmas events around the state.

Hernando

Hernando's annual Christmas Open House takes place November 16, featuring dozens of shops, wonderful food, carolers, and pictures with Santa. The event will take place at the Hernando Court Square. For more information, call 662/429-9055 or visit www.hernandoms.org.

Holly Springs

Holly Springs launches the holiday season with a tour of six elegant historical homes, all decorated in Christmas splendor, December 6 and 7. The Holly Springs Museum, 111 Van Dorn Ave., will kick off the tour with a choir concert. For more details, call 662/252-3669.

Tunica

Historic downtown Tunica will host its annual Christmas Open House November 9 from 1-5 p.m. Visitors are invited to enjoy carriage rides, caroling, and pictures with Santa, and to begin working on their Christmas lists at a variety of unique shops. For details, call Tunica Main Street at 662/363-6611.

Tupelo

The Tupelo Ballet will present two performances of its annual production of "The Nutcracker" December 6 at the Ruth Liveakos Performing Arts Theater on the Tupelo High School Campus. Performing with the Tupelo Ballet Company dancers and a cast of more than 100 will be guest artists including Le Yin of the Northwest Pacific Ballet and Catherine Gaduco, formerly of Ballet Alabama. The Tupelo Symphony Orchestra and the Tupelo High School chorus will provide live music. Reserved seating is available; for additional details, call 662/844-1928 or 844-4352, or see www.tupeloballet.com

For a different perspective on this holiday classic, the Moscow Ballet will perform "The Great Russian Nutcracker" December 10 at the Tupelo Civic Auditorium, 4125 Cliff Gookin Blvd. As many as 60 local children will take part in the ballet. Call 800/320-1733 or see www.nutcracker.com for additional information.

Pittsboro

The Biblical City, a re-enactment of life in the first century, will be presented from 6-8:30 p.m. December 4-6 at the Agri-Center on Hwy. 9 North in Pittsboro. Visitors will see exotic animals and citizens dressed in authentic period clothing. Large bus groups are welcome, and the event is wheelchair-accessible. Refreshments will be available. For details, call 662/637-2257. (See "Biblical City," pg. 10, for more information.)

Aberdeen

Visitors are invited to enjoy a tour of homes decked out in the brightest holiday finery on the afternoon of December 13. In the evening, a Christmas Lights Driving Tour with thousands of candles lining the streets of Aberdeen will take place. For more information, call 662/369-9440 or visit www.aberdeenms.org.

Drew

Christmas at the Gazebo, a Drew Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event set for December 6, will feature an old-fashioned parade along with a festival with food and craft vendors, games, activities, and entertainment at Gazebo Park on Main Street. At sunset, the Drew Garden Club will hold the annual lighting of the Christmas tree. A special 2003 Drew collectible landmark ornament featuring the Old National Guard Armory will be available. Call 662/745-8975 for additional information.

Greenwood

The Greenwood Garden Club invites visitors from around the state to "Enjoy the Sights of Christmas" at their annual Holiday Tour of Homes from 1-5 p.m. December 11. Five beautiful homes, each grandly decorated for the season, will be featured on the tour this year. Tickets are $8; for additional information on the tour, call 662/453-0018.

Leland

"Christmas on Deer Creek" kicks off with an opening ceremony November 30. The program consists of music and a dramatic entrance by Santa, who will light the trees and floats. The floats are then permanently anchored along Deer Creek through December 31. For more details, see www.lelandms.org or call 662/686-2689.

Winona

Frosty's Christmas Bazaar, a high-quality arts and crafts show with live local entertainment, will be held November 22 and 23 at the Montgomery County Coliseum in Winona. Don't forget to let the kids stop by and say hello to Santa. Visit www.frostysbazaar.org or call 662/283-5795 for more information.

Columbus

The city of Columbus will offer tours of beautifully decorated antebellum mansions as part of its Star Home Driving Tour. The tour runs through the entire month of December. Call 800/327-2686 for additional information or visit www.columbus-ms.org.

One hundred voices, a community orchestra, and 6,400 lights will form a 30-foot singing Christmas tree December 5 at First United Methodist Church at 602 Main St. For details, call 662/328-5252.

The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway goes all out for the holidays with a beautiful display of decorated boats during the season. Stop by the Stennis Lock and Dam, East Bank, for "Christmas on the Tenn-Tom" December 6. For details, call 662/329-8869 or see www.columbus-ms.org.

Vicksburg

The historic city of Vicksburg will show its holiday spirit beginning November 21-23 with the 2nd annual Festival of Trees, set to take place at the Vicksburg Convention Center. Highlights of the show include a preview gala Friday evening, a "Reindeer Roundup" and breakfast with Santa Saturday morning, and the Silver Bells Tea for seniors Sunday afternoon. Santa's Village, an interactive area for children, will be open throughout the festival, and live entertainment will be presented on the "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" stage. Proceeds benefit Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, a national organization founded by Carolyn Duren of Vicksburg to honor law enforcement professionals. General admission to the festival is $3 for adults and $1.50 for children and seniors; special event ticket prices vary. For tickets or details, call 601/630-2929 or see www.vccmeet.com.

On November 30, from 1-5 p.m., visitors are invited to experience the early sights, sounds, and scents of the season at more than 25 great stores and restaurants at downtown Vicksburg's Old-fashioned Christmas Open House. For additional information, call 601/634-4527.

Cedar Grove Mansion will feature festive decor and a 14-foot Christmas tree in the double parlors December 9. Guests will enjoy tours led by guides in Victorian dress. Live entertainment, hot apple cider, eggnog, and cranberry brie will be available at this "Christmas Open House at the Mansion." Visit www.CedarGrovelnn.com or call 601/661-6100 for more details.

Clinton

Live animals and theatrical lighting create the perfect scene for the Christmas story at Parkway Baptist Church in Clinton. From December 10-14, the public is invited to drive by and experience the "Greatest Gift," a step back in time to the miraculous events of the very first Christmas night. For more information, call 601/924-9912.

Jackson

For many Mississippians, it wouldn't be Christmas without a visit to Mistletoe Marketplace, the Junior League of Jackson's annual fund-raiser, set this year for November 6-8 at the Mississippi Trade Mart on High Street. More than 140 merchants from 22 states will offer their wares to an expected crowd of 35,000. Funds raised by the Junior League go toward the group's volunteer projects focusing on local children and youth. General admission shopping hours will be Thursday, 12-9 p.m., Friday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children and seniors, and $20 for a three-day pass. Special events will include a preview gala Wednesday, Mistletoe Morning and Business After Hours Thursday, and Marketplace Brunch and a new "Frolic with Frosty" family event Friday. For more information, call 888/324-0027 or see www.mistletoemarketplace.com.

The Old Capitol Museum of Mississippi History will hold its Holiday Open House on Sunday, November 16, from 12:30-4:30 p.m. This event, offering visitors a sampling of the state's folk art, crafts, and books, will also feature a 2 p.m. concert by the Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra. "Christmas at the Old Capitol," the museum's most popular annual event, will be celebrated from December 3-23 and will feature the Old Capitol trains, period decorations and toys, and beautifully adorned Christmas trees. Special Sunday concerts will be held December 7, 14, and 21, at 3 p.m. For details on any of these events, call 601/576-6920.

From December 3-19, the Governor's Mansion will host its own special Christmas celebration. The historic section of the mansion will be adorned with traditional holiday decorations made of fruit and seasonal greenery. Free guided tours will be offered Tuesdays through Fridays, every half-hour from 9:30-11 a.m. To confirm availability or for details, call 601/359-6421.

Enjoy the city's holiday decorations by the glow of candlelight during the Old Jackson Christmas by Candlelight Tour Friday, December 5, from 5-8 p.m. This popular annual event will highlight the Old Capitol Museum, Manship House Museum, Governor's Mansion, and State Capitol. Special entertainment will be provided at each site. Call 601/576-6920 for additional information.

Bring your blankets and lawn chairs to the Belhaven College soccer bowl December 5 and 6 to take part in a Jackson holiday tradition. The "Singing Christmas Tree" is an outdoor choral performance that features the season's best Christmas carols. Please call 601/968-5930 or see www.belhaven.edu for more information.

Ballet Mississippi will present four performances of its annual holiday classic, "The Nutcracker," at Thalia Mara Hall December 5-7. More than 100 of the state's finest dancers, along with guest artist Christopher Alloways-Ramsey of the Boston Ballet, will take part in this not-to-be-missed extravaganza. Each performance will offer a distinct experience Friday night is "Ballet in Blue Jeans," where theater-goers are encouraged to dress casually; the Kids' Matinee takes place Saturday at 2 p.m.; that night, the Gala Performance will take place; and Sunday afternoon's performance will be followed by the traditional Sugar Plum Children's Party. For more details, call 601/960-1560 or see www.balletmississippi.com.

The Manship House Museum gets into the holiday spirit from December 5-23, offering tours featuring authentic Victorian decorations Tuesdays through Fridays, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. On Monday, December 8, at 3:30 p.m., children ages 5-12 can learn to make a Victorian Christmas craft during the free St. Nicholas Day Crafts Workshop. Reservations are required for the workshop. For details, call 601/961-4724.

Even the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science gets in on the holiday act by offering three exciting events this season. From 10 a.m. to noon December 7, youngsters will learn about winter birds and make holiday bird feeders at "Christmas for the Birds," Visitors will learn to make holiday ornaments from natural and recycled items during "Nature-Made Christmas," 10 a.m.-noon December 13. That same day, all are invited to enjoy the beautiful sounds of dulcimer music, as Dulcimore plays in the museum rotunda from 2-4 p.m.

From December 8-27, drive or stop by the Old Tyme Christmas Village on Lakeland Drive to see a miniature 1900-era lighted community. The scene features a church, schoolhouse, post office, and other buildings, complete with the sounds of the season. For details, call 601/713-3365.

The Moscow Ballet's annual touring production of "The Great Russian Nutcracker" will take the stage at Thalia Mara Hall on East Pascagoula Street at 3 p.m. December 21. This year's production features the work of a new choreographer and artistic director, Anatoly Emelianov, who has danced with the Moscow Ballet since its premier U.S. season. As many as 60 local children will take part in the ballet. For tickets or information, call 601/355-5252 or see www.nutcracker.com.

Florence

The Florentine Clubs of Florence will hold their 8th annual Christmas Tour of Homes on Sunday, December 14, from 1-5 p.m. Tickets are $10; special group rates are available. For more information, call 601/845-8840.

Meridian

Meridian starts the season with the special "Trees of Christmas" event December 1-7. This wonderful tradition features trees decorated with various themes at the Merrehope and F.W. Williams Houses. For additional information, call 601/483-8439.

Tylertown

Christmas in the Park will celebrate its sixth year delighting visitors to Holmes Water Park this holiday season. The holiday display, sponsored by the Walthall County Chamber of Commerce and staffed by volunteers, features millions of twinkling lights and animated displays covering more than 20 acres.

One of the park's largest exhibits is a 15-foot-high grist mill, complete with stream. Another highlight is an 18-foot-wide steamboat located on a river setting. A unique Cajun Village, complete with several lighted buildings, a pirogue, and an alligator, is the contribution of a former Louisiana resident who moved to Tylertown. Other special exhibits include Ole McDonald Farm, Noah's Ark, Paul Bunyan, and a reindeer driving a Ford Model T. Traditional favorites include a stable and manger scene, a partridge in a pear tree, a 30-foot lighted tree, and Santa with his sleigh.

This year's event opens with a special preview showing in conjunction with the all new Christmas Bazaar November 21 and 22. The bazaar, sponsored by Calvary Baptist Church, will take place at the Southwest Events Center, adjoining the park.

Then, beginning on Thanksgiving, the park will be open for viewing on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights from 6-8:30 p.m. through Christmas week. Many of the exhibits have been donated by individuals or groups, and some are dedicated as memorials or honorariums.

In connection with this event, the Christmas in the Park board has issued a special pewter ornament for the past two years. The tradition continues this year with a depiction of crossed candy canes; the collectible ornament can also be used as a pendant or pin and is available for $15.

Last year, some 3,600 vehicles and 14,500 people passed through this winter wonderland; of those, about 2,400 cars were from outside Walthall County, proving that this is an event worth traveling to, volunteers say. Admission is $5 per car, $10 for larger church vans, and $20 for buses; the park is located east of downtown on Hwy. 198. For more information, call 601/876-2680.

Natchez

To look at the list of holiday events planned for Natchez this year, one might think they'd had to increase the number of days of Christmas from 12 to 60 or so to make room for all the festivities. The fun starts early, on November 1-2, with the Christmas in Natchez Arts and Crafts Show at the Convention Center. This annual event features regional vendors showing jewelry, arts and crafts, food, and plants, if you miss the first show, it all happens again December 6-7. For details, call 601/445-9710, ext. 23.

During the entire month of December, the celebrations continue with the Christmas in Natchez Homes Tour. Historic houses all around Natchez will be grandly decorated for the season. For ticket information, call 601/446-6631 or 800/647-6742. Also happening all month long is a Christmas celebration at Rosalie, where the first and second floors will be decorated in Victorian style. Call 601/445-4,555 or see www.rosalie.net for more details.

Enjoy the holiday tastes of a Victorian Christmas luncheon December 4 at historic Magnolia Hall. The meal will be served from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m.; tickets are $7. For reservations or additional information, call 601/443-9065.

The lighting of the Natchez Community Christmas tree takes place downtown at 5:30 p.m. December 5. Join with other revelers as the enormous tree is lighted, and let the children visit with Santa. The next morning, children of all ages are again invited to rub shoulders with Old St. Nick during the Breakfast with Santa Claus, 8:30-10:30 a.m. Call 601/442 2929 for more information on this event, sponsored by Natchez Downtown Development.

A special Children's Victorian Christmas Celebration will take place at Jefferson College December 6-26. Christmas trees decorated by local fifth-grade classes will be on display in the historic buildings throughout the celebration. This event, sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, is free to the public. For more information, call 601/442-2901.

A unique Lour of private downtown homes will be offered during the Friends of the Library Christmas Home Tour December 7, presented annually to benefit the Natchez City Library. Refreshments will be served. Tours are from 2 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at the Natchez Visitors Center and at the door of each home on the day of the tour.

On December 7, downtown merchants on Franklin Street will throw open their doors for the annual gala Holiday Open House. The event promises something for everyone and everything you'll need for holiday gift-giving.

Baking and sharing holiday goodies is always a fun part of the holidays, and the December 13 Christmas Cookie Class and Bake Sale at the Main Street Marketplace downtown is sure to help visitors get into the spirit. Be creative and design your own cookie masterpieces, or buy them from talented local bakers. The Marketplace is located on the corner of Main and Rankin Streets. Call 601/445-8479 for details.

Guides in antebellum costumes will show the historic Rosalie and Melrose homes in a unique light during the Victorian Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes December 13 and 20. You'll experience the magic of Christmas with a trolley tour through the lighted historic district and music with snacks at beautiful antebellum Auburn. Tickets will be sold at Rosalie and Melrose; admission is $10. For information, call 601/445-4555 or see www.rosalie.net.

Two special events will draw visitors downtown December 14. The Natchez Downtown Merchants Holiday Open House will feature fine shopping and great decorations along Main Street and around town. Also that evening, bring your candles and sing along during Caroling In the Park in Veteran's Memorial Park behind St. Mary's (across from Main Street Marketplace). Songs begin at 7 p.m. For more details, call 601/446-5963.

For additional general information on any of these events, call the Natchez Visitors Center at 601/446-6345.

Laurel

Landrum's Country Homestead and Village, a one-of-a-kind re-creation of an 1800s settlement, will hold its 20th annual Christmas Open House November 29. The event will feature entertainment, food, exhibits, a candlelight tour, an encampment of Confederate soldiers, and lots of great family fun. The homestead is located at 1356 Hwy. 15 South. For details, call 601/649-2546 or see www.landrums.com.

Hattiesburg

"Holiday in the Hub" offers a full week-end of candlelighting, historic home tours, seasonal music, carriage rides, holiday lights, and more on December 13 and 14. This beautiful downtown neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. See www.hattiesburg.com or call 601/545-4503 for more details.

The same weekend, enjoy carriage rides through the Hattiesburg Historic District and see 15,000 luminaries lining the streets of homes decorated for the holidays. Stay for entertainment and refreshments. Call 601/583-4329 or visit www.hattiesburg.org for information.

Pass Christian

"Christmas in the Pass," an event for the whole family, will take place in the Business District of Pass Christian. Scenic Drive will offer the best view of the events taking place December 5, which will include a parade, carolers, an open house with lots of merchants, and children's activities throughout the downtown area. For more information, call 228/452-3311.

Gulfport

Unique art is the focus of the "13 Days of Christmas" exhibit set for November 22-January 3 at the 13th Street Gallery in Gulfport. Throughout the season, the gallery, which is owned and operated by four painters, two potters, and a sculptor, will offer original paintings, signed and numbered prints, potter, sculpture, and other handmade items made by 13 Gulf Coast artists. An opening reception will be held December 4 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. The 13 days leading up to Christmas will also feature special events including artist demonstrations, live music, raffles, door prizes, and food tastings. Extended holiday hours will be 11 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays. The gallery is located at 2608 13th St. For details, call 228/822-0040 or see www.geocities.com/thirteenthstgallery.

The Gulfport Civic League will present its 44th annual Holiday Tour of Homes Sunday, December 7, from 2-5 p.m. Three exquisite homes, each elaborately decorated for the Christmas season, will be featured on the tour this year. For more details, call 800/243-6081.
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Publication:Mississippi Magazine
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Date:Nov 1, 2003
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