Friday, October 31, 2014 · 8:06 a.m.

Field Excursions: Seven Christmas destinations in East Tennessee

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East Tennessee offers a variety of ways to enjoy its spectacular natural and cultural history throughout the holidays. Enjoy the magic of season by stepping back in time to Christmases past or out into the starry skies and brisk air of the great outdoors at any of the following events that take place during December.

Historic Mansker’s Station Yulefest
When: Dec. 1, 6-9 p.m.
Where: Bowen Plantation House and Mansker's Fort in Goodlettesville, Tenn.
Celebrate Christmas customs typical of the late 18th century at Bowen Plantation House and Mansker's Fort, an authentic reconstruction of a 1779 frontier forted station typical of early Cumberland settlements. Enjoy refreshments and live music as you tour the living history center by candlelight. For more information, visit their site or call 615-851-2241. 

Dancers at Dickens of a Christmas in downtown Franklin. (Photo: Williamson County CVB)

Dickens of a Christmas
When: Dec. 8-9
Where: Downtown Franklin, Tenn.
Historic downtown Franklin’s Main Street steps back in time to the Victorian era, with more than 250 costumed characters bringing to life “A Christmas Carol” and other tales of Charles Dickens. The event includes costumed characters from Dickens’ stories, dancers and street musicians, horse-drawn carriage rides, a holiday bazaar and crafts area, and much more. For more information, click here.

Festival of Christmas Past
When: Dec. 8, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: Sugarlands Visitor Center in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
This annual celebration of the culture of the Smoky Mountain people, with an emphasis on the Christmas season, features costumed interpreters, storytelling, old-time mountain music and demonstrations of traditional domestic skills. For more information, visit their website.

Holiday Trail of Lights
When: Dec. 15, 5-8 p.m.
Where: Red Clay State Historic Park in Cleveland, Tenn.
Enjoy the quiet beauty of a winter evening outdoors at Red Clay State Historic Park, the capital of the Cherokee Nation from 1832 until 1837 and where the Trail of Tears began. Park grounds will be lit by candlelight, and guests can enjoy festive music, interpretive talks, storytelling and refreshments. For more information, click here or call 423-478-0339.

Ruby Patterson demonstrates quilting techniques in the Mark Twain family cabin. (Photo: Nell Moore)

Christmas in Old Appalachia
When: Dec. 1-24
Where: Museum of Appalachia in Clinton, Tenn.
Step back in time to enjoy simple Christmas traditions from days past during the Museum of Appalachia’s annual holiday display, Christmas in Old Appalachia. Each December, this renowned living history museum celebrates the season with the holiday traditions that were dear to the hearts of rural pioneer Appalachian families. For more information, visit their site or call 865-494-7680.

Santa’s reindeer tour at Strickland Place Farm. (Photo: Strickland Place Farm)

Santa’s reindeer tour at Strickland Place Farm
When: Tours offered through Dec. 24 (reservations required)
Where: Strickland Place Farm, White House, Tenn.
Meet Santa’s reindeer and step back in time to experience the magic of days gone by at this 100-acre farm listed on the National Historic Register. After meeting live reindeer and having a photo taken with the reindeer in an antique sleigh, guests will tour some of Strickland Place Farm’s historic structures, including an old-fashioned mercantile museum stocked with original products from the 1930s and 1940s. To make a reservation, visit www.santaseindeertour.com.

Enchanted Garden of Lights
When: Through Jan. 5
Where: Rock City in Lookout Mountain, Ga.
This award-winning light extravaganza features more than 30 holiday scenes that transform the garden’s natural daytime splendor into a nocturnal fantasyland. Visit with St. Nick and his elves, enjoy gingerbread cookie decorating and hot cocoa, and see elves harvesting candy canes and building toys. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.seerockcity.com/pages/enchanted-garden-of-lights.

Jenni Frankenberg Veal is a freelance writer and naturalist living on Walden’s Ridge, who finds enchantment in living history events and spending time in the great outdoors. Visit her blog at www.YourOutdoorFamily.com.

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