If you have never been to Bellefonte Victorian Christmas, Sally Houser wants this to be the year you make it part of your holiday.
The annual yuletide festivities in the Centre County seat jingle into town this week, and Houser and other organizers were busy Tuesday making final preparations.
“Bellefonte Victorian Christmas is so awesome because we have a beautiful town and beautiful architecture,” she said.
The old-fashioned fun gets started Thursday night with the 4th annual Gaslight Gala, a fundraising event that sets a classy tone for the weekend celebration. Reservations can no longer be accepted for the catered affair at the American Philatelic Society, but those who scored a seat early will spend an evening with Dickens & Co. characters, period music and entertainment.
The real opening event happens Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Bellefonte Elementary School.
“My favorite venue has to be opening night. That’s when the kids get to showcase their talent,” said Houser. The Bellefonte Community Band will be there, as well as the Nittany Knights, but children are the real stars. The fourth and fifth grade choir is joined by the middle school women’s chorale, bell choir, and the St. John’s Elementary choir.
That performance, like many of the events over the weekend, is free of charge.
“We have something for everyone,” said Houser. “We try to keep it affordable.”
Other free events include children’s activities at the Centre County Library, crafts and model train displays at the middle school, a variety of concerts, visiting Santa at his house on the diamond, and, of course, interacting with the Dickensian characters strolling the streets in their period costumes.
Houser called the Dickens & Co. characters one of the highlights of the weekend, something that brings people back year after year. In addition to the professional characters, many of the organizers and volunteers like Houser and her husband will be in on the costumed fun, too.
Another perennial favorite is the homes tour that lets fans of Bellefonte’s history and architecture get up close and personal with it instead of just looking on from outside. Eight homes are on this year’s tour, including the Our Fair Lady Bed and Breakfast and the Daniel Hastings Mansion. Tours are $15 for adults, $5 for children under 12, and take place between noon and 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Perhaps the most famous building in town isn’t on the tour, but it is still there to be viewed. The Reynolds Mansion will host a classic high tea.
“It’s a beautiful event and a great way to see the house,” said Houser.
For more information about all of the weekend’s activities, visit the website at www.bellefontevictorianchristmas.com.