November 21 – December 31, 2020 @ Southwest Virginia Museum
BIG STONE GAP, VA. — The Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park presents the 25th Annual Festival of Trees. To adhere to Covid 19 guidelines, park staff has worked to make this event safe for guests and participants. The Festival of Trees runs from Saturday, Nov. 21 through Thursday, Dec. 31. A feat of community creativity and involvement, the Festival of Trees leaves all four floors of the stately Victorian home that houses the museum’s collections lavishly decorated for the holiday season.
The tradition of the Festival of Trees began as a way to celebrate the holiday traditions of the Victorian era, as well as to honor the role that C. Bascom Slemp — the driving force behind the establishment of the museum — played in establishing the American tradition of a “national Christmas tree.” Slemp served as the personal secretary to President Calvin Coolidge. In 1923, a group from the Electrical League and the Washington, D.C. public schools approached him with an idea for a Christmas tree to be erected on the White House lawn. Slemp took the idea to the First Lady, Grace Coolidge, who took up the cause. She recommended that the tree be placed on the ellipse south of the White House, and a tradition was born.
Volunteers from the Southwest Virginia region continue these traditions by decorating holiday trees, mantels, doorways and banisters throughout the Southwest Virginia Museum, sharing their creative talents and holiday spirit with all who visit the site. This year, over 60 groups contributed their time and talent to create truly beautiful displays.
There are several Covid 19 precautions that guests must adhere to at this year’s event. Participants are required to social distance between those not in the same household. Face coverings are required inside the museum. To assist with traffic flow throughout the building, directional arrows will be placed on each level of the building. Additionally, tree guides and voting for trees will not occur at this year’s event.
Visitors may tour the Festival of Trees through Dec. 31 during regular museum hours and during special “night viewings” on Nov. 21, 28 and Dec. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19 and 26 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Advanced tickets must be purchased for all night viewing dates, and are on sale now. Twenty tickets per time slot will be sold for night viewings. Time slots are 20 minutes each to allow for social distancing inside the building. Advanced tickets and daily admission fees for this year’s event are adults $5, children 6-12 $3, under 6 free. Group rates are available for parties of 10 or more. Call the park at (276) 523-1322 to purchase advanced special “night viewing” tickets, or for more information about the event. Advanced tickets may be purchased Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The museum gift and artisan shops will be open during viewings for all your holiday shopping needs.