THERE are a handful of museums in our region that have unusual programs every Christmas, each so special that I try to share news of them every year.

None is more interesting than “Christmas on Cockrell’s Creek,” the holiday house tour in Reedville that has grown into a three-day extravaganza from Dec. 13–15. It includes a fashion show, an artisans’ Christmas bazaar, a bake sale, a concert and more.

It’s all coordinated by the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum and a host of other groups in the community at the tip of the Northern Neck in Northumberland County.

For the event’s 25th year, visitors will again be able to take a ride on three large boats around the creek and to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Some years, those boats make the tour of half a dozen houses decorated for Christmas, giving those with tickets the option of going by land or by sea.

This year, the houses are spread around Reedville, and it didn’t make sense to use a trio of donated boats as water taxis. But because the nautical part of the day is such a draw, they’ll still be there to let visitors get out on the open water, weather permitting.

The part of the festivities that’s expanding this year happens Dec. 13, when there’s an event called “Mistletoe & Mimosas” at the museum’s Festival Halle across the street. That event, which runs from 10:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., includes food, mimosas, door prizes and a fashion show of items at Dream’s Fashion Boutique in Burgess, the only place tickets are available. (Call 804/453-9453 for info.)

The Artisan’s Christmas Bazaar, which will be set up in the nearby American Legion Hall in Reedville, will run from 1–5 p.m. that Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 14 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 15. There will be an array of gifts and collectibles from artisans available.

The central event of the weekend is still the house tour, where a mix of new and historic houses will be decorated with classic Christmas touches by the Chesapeake Bay Garden Club.

Those house tours run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the 14th and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the 15th, with each house offering its own style and artwork.

Included in the weekend’s festivities is the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Claus coming to the museum’s dock aboard its vintage boat, the Elva C. There’s also a bake sale, cookies, hot cider and caroling in the museum’s Covington building. The community tree will be illuminated Saturday afternoon and there will be a performance by the Chesapeake Chorale in a Christmas concert Sunday afternoon at 3 in Festival Halle.

“It’s our 25th year and we’re excited by all we have to offer,” said museum Director Lee Langston–Harrison. “And don’t forget the running of the model trains in the museum building. New this year in the display of models is the town of Kilmarnock.”

Tickets to the house tour and other events are $25 per person in advance, $30 at the door. For information and to purchase or reserve a ticket, call 804/453-6529 or go online to rfmuseum.org.

Christmas in Kinsale

A week before the Reedville festivities, another quaint, small town in the Northern Neck has its big holiday celebration on Saturday, Dec. 7. It’s called “Christmas in Kinsale,” a celebration coordinated by the town’s foundation and museum.

It’s a mix of holiday fun and fundraising that last year generated nearly $10,000 that went—as it will this year—to Christmas gifts distributed through Westmoreland County Social Services and WRAR’s Christmas Wishes program. There will also be contributions to The Haven and the food pantry at Ebenezer Methodist Church.

The event includes a pancakes-and-bacon breakfast prepared by the town’s Masons from 8–10 a.m., a Christmas Bazaar in the town’s firehouse that will spill into the town park, a silent auction, hundreds of dozens of cookies for sale, live music in the town park, and wine tastings by Rivah Vineyards at the Grove.

At midday, there will be oysters cooked every which way, a kid zone with games and stories for children, Santa in the Grey Barn, a town parade, a bike giveaway, a decorations contest and the lighting of the Memorial Tree at 4:15 p.m.

Lynn Norris, the director of the town’s museum and organizer of the event, characterized it this way: “Each year, Kinsale is swept by a flood of kindness on a very special weekend … when the spirit of the season is swelled by kindness to benefit our less fortunate neighbors.”

For more information on the event or to learn how to donate to the event, call 804/472-2013.

Holiday Marketplace

The Steamboat Era Museum in Irvington, which tells the stories of steamboats that once ran from Baltimore to Fredericksburg and all over the Northern Neck, holds a fundraiser at this time every year.

Jewelry, fiber, books, oyster art, wooden toys and more will be displayed, and the museum shop will be filled with gifts and decorations such as Santas, placemats, pillows, puzzles, hostess towels and cocktail napkins.

The museum will be selling a Christmas ornament of the steamboat Potomac, individual tins of white, milk and dark chocolate with photos from the museum’s collection and the “Northern Neck” poster applied to wood and offered as a sign, postcard, journal and magnet.

Other gifts include a vintage-style map of the Chesapeake Bay showing steamboat ports presented on a 72- by 30-inch scarf, and small ceramic watermen’s boots.

The Marketplace will also be open at the museum at 156 King Carter Drive in Irvington on Dec. 7, 14 and 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All proceeds support the museum.

For more information, call the museum at or go online to steamboateramuseum.org.

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Rob Hedelt writes for

The Free Lance-Star.

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