Tallahassee Commemorates the First Christmas in North America With a Month-long Celebration

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ — Toasting the season, the charming Southern town of Tallahassee continues a joyous tradition with an annual month-long celebration to commemorate its prestigious “claim to fame” – - Tallahassee marks the site of the first Christmas celebrated in North America more than 450 years ago — with special rates beginning at $59* per night.

Amidst rolling hills, canopied roads and “coolish” nights, Tallahassee presents joyous festivities, including a historical 16th century encampment located at the first Christmas observance, special tours of sculpted gardens with blooming camellias, gracious plantation homes candelit in Sunday finery, a spirited 1880s farm, the Victorian House that Rhymes, acres of giant moss- draped oaks glowing with thousands of twinkling lights — even a holiday cruise on the crystal clear waters of Wakulla Springs.

Tallahassee’s holiday events include:

Maclay Gardens Camellia Christmas Dec. 2, 2005
19th Annual Winter Festival Dec. 3, 2005
Knott House Museum Holiday Open House Dec. 3, 2005
40th Annual Market Days Dec. 3-4, 2005
Goodwood Museum Making Spirits Bright Dec. 4, 2005
Governor’s Mansion Tours Dec. 5-16, 2005
Pebble Hill Christmas Candlelight Tours Dec. 9-10, 2005
Nutcracker Ballet Dec. 9-11, 2005
Goodwood Museum Candlelight Tour Dec. 10, 2005
Wakulla Springs Holiday Cruise and Dinner Dec. 10, 2005
Tallahassee Symphony Holiday Magic Dec. 17, 2005
11th Annual Phipps Park Trail Holiday Hike Dec. 31, 2005
Hernando DeSoto Encampment Jan. 14, 2006

“Tallahassee adds a distinctly Southern twist to the time-honored traditions of the holiday season,” says John Citron, interim president, Tallahassee Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Tallahassee has been identified as the official site of the First Christmas by the discovery of rare copper coins, fragments of armor and a fossilized pig’s jaw that were part of conquistador Hernando de Soto’s 1539 winter encampment. Today, we celebrate our place in history by combining our Spanish beginnings with Southern heritage and spirit.”

Thousands of lights create illuminated canopies over downtown parks and the streets of Tallahassee during the Winter Festival for the Celebration of Lights and Jingle Bell Run. Scents of cinnamon and spice waft from the nearly 200-year-old grounds of Goodwood Museum and Gardens, while little tykes listen intently to old-fashioned story time.

Unique stops on holiday tours feature the Camellia Christmas at Maclay Gardens with more than 100 varieties of blooming camellias. Knott House Museum Candlelight Tours highlight eccentric rhymes attached to the furnishings of this 1840 park-front mansion while the holiday bedecked antebellum Governor’s mansion, patterned after Andrew Jackson’s columned home, offers splendor.

The holidays wrap up with the Hernando de Soto Winter Encampment at the authentic 1539 Spanish site. An entourage of 16th century garbed soldiers and priests with tents, firearms relive the atmosphere where America’s first Christmas mass took place.

A sampling of accommodations includes:
Cabot Lodge, North from $59 per night
Hampton Inn & Suites from $74 per night
DoubleTree Hotel from $89 per night
Park Plaza Hotel from $89 per night

To experience Tallahassee’s festive spirit and southern charm, call the Tallahassee Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 628-2866 or visit http://www.seetallahassee.com/ .

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