Christmas at Hills and Dales

The historic and beautiful Callaway Hills and Dales estate is open for its Christmastours. This year makes the 14th year that the home has been decorated and opened to the public to tour the home. On display are beautiful red poinsettias, a circa 1940’s tinsel-laden Christmas tree, with fresh holiday decorations all around. The visitor center is also decorated with trees, poinsettias, and garlands.

The center’s elegant Fraser Fir decorations and scent of fresh homemade teacakes add to the estate’s atmosphere of festive cheer. Made from Mrs. Callaway’s original recipe, these teacakes offer a personal treat to touring visitors.

As you walk through this majestic home, you will also hear classic Christmas melodies playing in the background. This brings back memories of days from the past and just makes the experience even more pleasurable.

According to horticulture manager Jo Phillips, “Guests appreciate our fresh decorations. We don’t use artificial greenery, which creates a level of authenticity rarely seen today. The fresh wreaths and swags are purchased, but the majority of our decorations and arrangements throughout the house are made with foliage, berries, and botanicals collected from our own garden.”

Tour coordinator Suellen Dolan, who leads the tours, said, “One of the most popular decorations is the small cedar Christmas tree in the nursery. It reminds our visitors of the time when families went out and cut their own tree. Other favorites are the beautifully decorated gingerbread cookies hanging from the pot rack in the kitchen. The kitchen is the center of the home during the holidays.”

Christmas tours will be given Saturday, December 1st through Saturday, December 29th.

On Saturday, December 15, another popular event will be taking place at the estate. The Children’s Christmas Celebration, held from 10:00 AM 1:00 PM, is a free event where children and grandchildren will have fun decorating gingerbread houses at the visitor center. They get to be creative using all types of candies. Their imaginations are able to run wild and create beauty where and how they see it on a gingerbread house. Every year somewhere around 350 gingerbread houses are built, and the children enjoy it so much that they usually run out of houses. They will also have the opportunity to decorate ornaments. Plan to get there early so that your child or grandchild can enjoy this creative, enjoyable event.

Santa will also be on hand for the Children’s Christmas Celebration. He will greet them from 10:00 AM – 11 AM. Mama Jama, along with Mason Gentry, will be there at 11:00 AM to tell Christmas stories like Clement C. Moore’s “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” They will also host a holiday sing-along— with ciders and cookies provided.

During this holiday season, Hills and Dales Estate will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 Am – 5 PM. The adult admission is $20 and students 7 and up is $8. The estate tours include museum exhibits along with a 14-minute orientation film in the visitor center. After that, a tram ride is provided to the house and a guided tour of the 31-room Callaway home. Next visitors enjoy a self guided tour of the greenhouse and the five-acre formal boxwood gardens filled with a wide range of plants and garden ornaments. If you are active military, discounts are available.

For an enjoyable holiday trip or just a relaxing walk back in time, Hills and Dales is definitely the place to go see this holiday season.

The author of this article can be reached via email at info@troupcountynews.net.