“Holiday events are the ideal family activity, as
they encourage parents and children to enjoy their heritage
together,” said Robert Coomer, director of the Illinois Historic
Preservation Agency, which administers the state's historic sites
and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
"Holidays at the White House," Nov. 24 through Jan. 7 -- Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, Springfield, 217-558-8970
The Illinois Gallery at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum
will showcase rare artifacts, insightful stories and holiday trees
in this exclusive look into Christmas and New Year's days past at
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The regular museum admission of $7.50 for
adults, $3.50 for children and $5.50 for senior citizens will apply.
Santa's House, Nov. 24, 25 and 26 and Dec. 2, 9 and 16 -- Old Market House State Historic Site, Galena, 815-777-3310
The Old Market House at 123 Commerce St. in downtown Galena will
be the site of Santa's House. The annual parade will begin at 5:30
p.m. on Friday, and Santa's House will open after Santa arrives at
the Old Market House. Santa will give gift bags to children until 7
p.m. Santa will also greet children from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday and
Sunday and on Dec. 2, 9 and 16. The event is free and open to the
Lamplight tours, Nov. 24, 25 and 26 and Dec. 2, 3, 9 and 10 -- Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site, Galena, 815-777-3310
Lamplight tours of the Ulysses S. Grant Home at 500 Bouthillier
St. in Galena will be offered from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday
and on Dec. 2, 3, 9 and 10. The home's oil lamps will be lit, and
1870s Victorian Christmas decorations will grace the home of the
president and Civil War general. The tours are free and open to the
Julmarknad (Swedish Christmas Market), Nov. 24, 25 and 26 and
Dec. 2 and 3 -- Bishop Hill State Historic Site, Bishop Hill, 309-927-3345
The holiday season will be opened the traditional Swedish way
during Julmarknad, or Christmas Market, at Bishop Hill from 10 a.m.
to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday and on Dec. 2 and 3. The entire
village will be adorned with traditional Swedish holiday
decorations. Stores will have traditional decorations, pottery,
baskets, brooms, toys, food and other items for sale. Swedish folk
characters will wander the village, and there will be a cookie walk,
chocolate walk, musical performances, artisan demonstrations,
baking, horse-drawn rides and workshops for children. The events are
free and open to the public.
Christmas at Clover Lawn, Nov. 24-Dec. 31 -- David Davis Mansion State Historic Site, Bloomington,
An authentic Victorian holiday celebration will be featured
during "Christmas at Clover Lawn," scheduled for Nov. 24-Dec. 31 at
the David Davis Mansion in Bloomington. The 36-room mansion will be
decorated with evergreen boughs, glittering ornaments, antique toys
and Christmas trees in almost every room. During the celebration,
visitors may tour the mansion Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m.
to 4 p.m. On Dec. 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., there will be special
holiday workshops where children may make their own copy of one of
the authentic 19th-century ornaments they will see on the mansion
tour. The Clover Lawn Museum Shop, operated by the David Davis
Mansion Foundation, will have many of the mansion's unique Christmas
ornaments for sale during the holiday season. The events are free
and open to the public.
Indian Market Days, Nov. 24, 25 and 26 -- Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville, 618-346-5160
The fourth annual Indian Market Days at the Cahokia Mounds
Interpretive Center will be Friday through Sunday. Vendors and
Indian artists will display and sell artwork, jewelry, sculpture,
herbals, weaving, clothing, ceramics and other Indian-made items.
This is the ideal opportunity to locate a unique holiday gift. The
show will be conducted on Friday from noon to 5 p.m. and on Saturday
and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the
Cider Sippin' Sale, Nov. 25 -- Cahokia Courthouse State Historic Site, Cahokia, 618-332-1782
The Cahokia Courthouse "Cider Sippin' Sale" on Saturday from 10
a.m. and 2 p.m. is a perfect opportunity to find that special
stocking stuffer and enjoy holiday shopping in a historic setting
and relaxed atmosphere. While browsing through the selection of
unique gifts, visitors can enjoy a cup of hot cider, talk to
interpreters in period clothing and enjoy the warmth of a roaring
fire. Books, postcards, coffee mugs and T-shirts will be among the
items for sale. Decorative fleur-de-lis and pineapple sun-catchers
and commemorative coins would make perfect ornaments for any tree.
The event is free and open to the public.
Dana-Thomas House Christmas, Nov. 29-Dec. 31 -- Dana-Thomas House State Historic Site, Springfield, 217-782-6776
The Dana-Thomas House State Historic Site in Springfield will be
fully decorated for the holiday season in lavish
turn-of-the-20th-century style beginning Nov. 29 through Dec. 1.
Free public tours are available Wednesdays through Sundays. Special
events include Family Night, Dec. 15; Luminaria Evening, Dec. 17;
and Children's Story Hour, Dec. 28. The Sumac Shop in the
Dana-Thomas House Visitors Center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Wednesdays through Sundays and until 8 p.m. on Dec. 15, 16 and 17,
the same days the site will have extended hours. The Sumac Shop has
gained a national reputation for the quality and uniqueness of its
products, which include books and monographs, cards and postcards,
Wright reproduction and adaptation items, jewelry, period decorative
arts, and related gift items.
Christmas in the Courthouse, Dec. 1 and 2 -- Metamora Courthouse State Historic Site, Metamora, 309-367-4470
The Metamora Woman's Club 16th annual "Christmas in the
Courthouse" opens Dec. 1 in the historic 1845 courthouse on the
Metamora town square. Ten trees will be decorated with historic,
community or patriotic themes, along with wreaths, garlands and
burgundy velvet bows inside and outside the courthouse. An open
house and concert from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 1 will feature live
Christmas and traditional music in the courtroom and greeters in
Civil War costumes. A choir and carolers will lead visitors in a
community singalong. Hot cider and cookies will be served. A second
open house and an opportunity to talk with Santa Claus in the
courtroom will be offered Dec. 2 from 1 to 4 p.m. The events are
free and open to the public. The decorations may be viewed through
The Saint Nicholas tradition, Dec. 2 -- Martin-Boismenue House State Historic Site, North Dupo,
The tradition of St. Nicholas, the fourth-century gift-giver who
is the inspiration for Santa Claus, will be explored during a
special event on Dec. 2 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Martin-Boismenue
House, North Dupo. St. Nicholas will stop by the candlelit historic
home to greet families and share holiday treats with children. The
house will be decorated for the season in traditional frontier
fashion, with St. Nicholas seated in front of a crackling fire.
Parents are encouraged to bring cameras to capture their children's
delight at seeing St. Nicholas. The event is free and open to the
Holiday celebration, Dec. 2 and 3 -- Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield,
Children's holiday crafts will be offered free of charge Dec. 2
from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.
The Catholic Charities and Holy Family Food Pantry canned food drive
takes place Dec. 2 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., also in the library.
Live musical entertainment will be provided Dec. 2 and 3 in the
museum. The standard museum admission of $7.50 for adults, $3.50 for
children and $5.50 for senior citizens will apply.
Christmas open house, Dec. 2 -- Postville Courthouse State Historic Site, Lincoln, 217-735-4977
Step back to Lincoln's time and enjoy period holiday decorations,
music and sweets during the Christmas open house on Dec. 2 from noon
to 4 p.m. at Postville Courthouse. The event is free and open to the
public. The courthouse will be decorated in the style of the
mid-1800s, and its Christmas tree will feature prairie dolls, wooden
decorations and grapevines. Guides will explain the ornaments on the
tree and how they were crafted in the 1840s. China painting will be
demonstrated, and period music will fill the historic building. A
display of 1840s photography will be in the courtroom, and a Lincoln
impersonator will greet visitors. Refreshments will be served.
Christmas program, Dec. 3 and 4 -- Jubilee College State Historic Site, Brimfield, 309-243-9489
The candlelit chapel will be the setting for the annual
nondenominational Christmas program on Dec. 3 and 4 at Jubilee
College, Brimfield. The public program will begin at 5:30 p.m. on
Dec. 3, and the program for senior citizens will be at 5 p.m. Dec.
4. Each will include performances on the 1848 Henry Erben organ, and
the Flanagan High School madrigal ensemble will sing medieval and
traditional songs. Candlelight tours of the 1840s college will be
given, and refreshments will be served. The event is free and open
to the public.
Christmas candlelight tours, Dec. 8 and 9 -- Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, near Charleston,
A Christmas holiday tradition that looks like it came from a
greeting card can be experienced during the Christmas candlelight
tours on Dec. 8 and 9 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Lincoln Log Cabin,
Charleston. The event is free and open to the public. Visitors are
welcome to tour the Lincoln and Sargent farms by candlelit paths to
see how Christmas may have been observed by 19th-century Americans.
At the Lincoln Cabin, the family will gather around the hearth and
share the evening socializing with neighbors, as was common with
many farm families after the busy harvest season, all while spinning
wool, knitting and performing other small tasks. Meanwhile, at the
Sargent Farm, members of the family will celebrate the holiday with
good food, simple decorations and Bible readings. Period music will
also be performed.
Lucia Nights, Dec. 8 and 9 -- Bishop Hill State Historic Site, Bishop Hill, 309-927-3345
A Swedish holiday tradition will be re-created during the annual
Lucia Nights on Dec. 8 and 9 at Bishop Hill. In a continuation of
Swedish tradition, all Bishop Hill businesses, museums, and bed and
breakfasts will be open until 9 p.m. and will feature a Lucia girl
wearing a white robe, crimson sash and a candle crown. She will
serve hot beverages and sweets to visitors. The celebration will
begin at 6 p.m. Dec. 8 as the community Christmas tree is lit at the
southeast corner of the village park. Seasonal music will be
provided both evenings. This Swedish tradition is based on St.
Lucia, Queen of Light. Legend has it that during a famine in Sweden,
on the longest and darkest day of the year, St. Lucia appeared
wearing a white robe and a crown of candles on a ship loaded with
food. Swedish girls still awaken their families on Dec. 13 dressed
in white robes and wearing crowns of candles.
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"The Christmas Songbook," Dec. 8, 9 and 10 -- Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site, Petersburg,
Tickets must be purchased for this event.
A perennial favorite musical revue, Gordon Productions' "The
Christmas Songbook," returns to Lincoln's New Salem Visitor Center
auditorium. Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 8 and 9 and 3 p.m. on
Dec. 10. Tickets, at $12 for adults and $11 for senior citizens and
children under 12, may be reserved by calling 217-632-4000. The show
is being presented as a fundraiser for the New Salem Lincoln League.
"The Christmas Songbook" features holiday favorites that were made
famous by such entertainers as Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Karen
Carpenter, Andy Williams, Elvis, Rosemary Clooney and others. "White
Christmas," "I'll be Home for Christmas," "Winter Wonderland" and
more than 30 other holiday pop songs will be presented.
Gilded Age Christmas dinner, Dec. 8 and 9 -- David Davis Mansion State Historic Site, Bloomington,
Advance reservations and fee required.
A grand Christmas dinner featuring six courses of Victorian
culinary delights, Gilded Age decorations and holiday activities is
scheduled for Dec. 8 and 9 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. at the David
Davis Mansion, Bloomington. The event is a fundraiser for the David
Davis Mansion Foundation. To reserve tickets for this limited
seating engagement at $150 per person, call 309-828-1084. Guests
will dine in the mansion's formal dining room, where the table will
be set with heirloom china, sparkling crystal and antique silver.
Service will begin with wassail, followed by six lavish courses. At
the end of the evening, guests will withdraw to the formal parlor to
enjoy traditional Christmas music and games and open gifts that were
fashionable during the Gilded Age. Stories about the "ghosts of
Christmases past," including tales about Abraham and Mary Todd
Lincoln, will add to the atmosphere.
Christmas celebration, Dec. 9 -- Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site, Springfield,
A Christmas celebration featuring poetry readings, storytelling
and seasonal decorations will be from noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 9 at the
Vachel Lindsay Home, 603 S. Fifth St. in Springfield. The event is
free and open to the public. Several selections of Lindsay poetry
with a Christmas or New Year's theme will be read by high school
students. At 2 p.m., storyteller Roberta Codemo will spin tales of
Christmases past for children of all ages. Piano music will fill the
house throughout the afternoon. Staff and volunteers in each room
will interpret the history of the house. The home will be decorated
for the holidays, and visitors will receive candy canes and souvenir
copies of Lindsay's Christmas poetry. Spiced tea and cookies will be
Christmas open house, Dec. 9 -- Vandalia Statehouse State Historic Site, Vandalia, 618-283-1161
1830s rooms illuminated by candlelight will highlight the annual
Christmas open house scheduled for Dec. 9 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at
Vandalia Statehouse, the oldest remaining Capitol building in
Illinois. The Statehouse where Abraham Lincoln served as a state
representative from 1836 to 1839 will be trimmed with 1800s
decorations, including fresh greenery, fruits and nuts. Staff and
volunteers in period clothing will greet visitors. Period music will
be provided, and the first 100 families will receive a free handmade
Christmas ornament. Cookies and cider will be served. The event is
free and open to the public.
Christmas Remembrance, Dec. 9 -- Illinois Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Springfield, 217-782-2717
The 74 soldiers still listed as prisoners of war or missing in
action in Southeast Asia will be remembered at a special ceremony
Dec. 9 at 1 p.m. at the Illinois Vietnam Veterans Memorial in
Springfield's Oak Ridge Cemetery. During the 19th annual Christmas
Remembrance, handmade red and white heart-shaped ornaments will be
hung by family and friends on the tree planted for this purpose near
the memorial. Each ornament bears the name of one of the 74 Illinois
POWs or MIAs. Members of the general public may also bring a
weatherproof ornament to hang on the tree. A brief program will
feature Christmas music. The event is free and open to the public.
Christmas at Apple River Fort, Dec. 9 and 10 -- Apple River Fort State Historic Site, Elizabeth, 815-858-2028
The holidays as observed at a Black Hawk War-era fort will be
re-enacted during Christmas at Apple River Fort on Dec. 9 and 10,
from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Costumed interpreters will demonstrate winter
activities such as wooden toy carving, firewood splitting, candle
dipping and sausage making and will present the sometimes
controversial ideas from the 1830s about celebrating Christmas as a
holiday. Visitors should be prepared to help the settlers with
winter chores such as firewood splitting and sausage making, or join
the militia officers and their wives as they prepare for a Christmas
ball. Hot cider will be served, and visitors can make 19th-century
Christmas ornaments in the interpretive center. The event is free
and open to the public.
Holiday open house and 150th anniversary celebration, Dec. 10 -- Bryant Cottage State Historic Site, Bement, 217-678-8184
Period holiday decorations and music will highlight a holiday
open house and 150th anniversary celebration on Dec. 10 at Bryant
Cottage, which was built in 1856 for early Bement businessman and
political leader Francis Bryant, a close friend of Stephen A.
Douglas. The cottage will be decorated by the artistic team of
Petals & Porch Posts from Bement in honor of the 150th anniversary,
and guests may view the cottage by candle and lamplight from 5 to 7
p.m. Sarah Bryant, portrayed by Peggy Wells, and the Bryants'
daughter Mary Eliza will greet visitors that evening. Handmade
Christmas ornaments (one per family) will be given to the first 50
families who visit during the open house. Period holiday music will
be provided. Visitors are encouraged to view a Christmas tree
decorated with ornaments made by local first-graders. The holiday
open house is free and open to the public.
Family Night, Dec. 15; extended tours, Dec. 16; and Luminaria
Evening, Dec. 17 -- Dana-Thomas House State Historic Site, Springfield, 217-782-6776
Dec. 15 from 4 to 8 p.m. is Family Night at the Frank Lloyd
Wright-designed Dana-Thomas House. The site hours on Dec. 16 and 17
will be 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., with live music filling the house during
the afternoon and evening. Evening tours allow the public to see
this pristine example of Wright's American architecture with its
100-year-old 1904-era light levels and to enjoy the many illuminated
holiday trees and decorations. The season's most popular event at
the Dana-Thomas House, Luminaria Evening, will be Dec. 17 from 4 to
8 p.m. One thousand candles in paper sacks will line the sidewalks
and horizontal ledges of the sprawling, 12,600-square-foot Prairie
Christmas at the Mansions, Dec. 16 -- Three historic mansions in Bloomington-Normal, 309-828-1084
Fee and advance reservations required.
Three of Bloomington-Normal's most significant, historic mansions
will feature evening holiday tours and shuttle transportation for
one low price on Dec. 16. Tickets for the tours are $8 per person
and may be purchased at Casey's, The Garlic Press, Schnucks
Supermarket, Engraving Express and the David Davis Mansion. The
three mansions -- David Davis Mansion State Historic Site, 1000 E.
Monroe, Bloomington; Broadview Mansion, 1301 S. Fell Ave., Normal;
and the Vrooman Mansion, 701 E. Taylor, Bloomington -- will be
festooned with vintage Christmas decorations and open for special
Christmas evening tours from 4 to 9 p.m. Gourmet holiday foods will
be served at the Vrooman and Davis mansions. The Davis Mansion tour
will also feature seasonal music and costumed guides who will show
visitors what a Victorian Christmas celebration was like when the
Davis family lived there. Christmas at the Mansions is a fundraising
event benefiting Immanuel Bible Foundation, the David Davis Mansion
and Faith in Action.
Julotta, Dec. 25 -- Bishop Hill State Historic Site, Bishop Hill, 309-927-3345
Visitors are invited to ring in Christmas Day the traditional
Swedish way at the Julotta nondenominational service beginning at 6
a.m. Dec. 25 at Bishop Hill. The service will be at the restored
1848 Colony Church. Christmas morning in Sweden begins with the
Julotta service, and since 1970 the Julotta at the Colony Church has
reaffirmed the Swedish heritage of this historic community. The
service will be conducted in both Swedish and English. Since the
Colony Church is not heated, those planning to attend should dress
warmly. Coffee and rusks will be served following the service. The
event is free and open to the public.
Children's Story Hour, Dec. 28 -- Dana-Thomas House State Historic Site, Springfield, 217-782-6776
A popular and traditional holiday activity returns to the
Dana-Thomas House with Children's Story Hour on Dec. 28. The event
is reminiscent of the times 100 years ago when Susan Lawrence Dana
would invite children into her home for reading and fun. This year's
storyteller will be Dan Keding of Urbana, and sessions will be at
9:30 and 11:30 a.m. Each child will receive a treat at the end of
the session. The event is free but space is limited, so reservations
are required. Each session lasts about 45 minutes.
La Guiannee, Dec. 31 -- Fort de Chartres State Historic Site, Prairie du Rocher,
The New Year's celebration that was started in 1722 by some of
the state's earliest settlers will be observed Dec. 31 at Fort de
Chartres. La Guiannee, the traditional French New Year's
celebration, runs from 7 to 10 p.m. at the fort. Traditional French
holiday carols will be sung and refreshments served. In a tradition
dating back to the early 1700s, the La Guiannee singers will then
visit houses in the early French town of Prairie du Rocher and sing
for the residents. As part of the tradition, the residents provide
refreshments for the singers. The event is free and open to the
First Night Period Ball, Dec. 31 -- Old State Capitol State Historic Site, Springfield, 217-785-7960
The glamour of women twirling in hoop skirts on the arms of
dashing gentlemen will be re-created during the First Night Period
Ball on New Year's Eve at the Old State Capitol in downtown
Springfield. The dancing will be in full swing from 7 to 10 p.m.
Dec. 31 in the Old State Capitol's Hall of Representatives. The ball
is free and open to the public, and is part of the First Night
Springfield celebration. Visitors are invited to tour the candlelit
building that evening and enjoy the historic holiday atmosphere.
Other events in downtown Springfield that evening require First
Night admission. For more information on the First Night schedule
and admission prices, visit
For more information on state historic sites, visit
Historic Preservation Agency news release]