Holiday Traditions

Luminaries light up the hillside by the historic Newcomer House at AntietamYou're invited to experience authentic holiday traditions in the Heart of the Civil War. Spend the night and wake up in history—hotel package details are below. Among the season's highlights each winter are:

  • The memorial illumination at Antietam National Battlefield: held the first Saturday of December, volunteers light over 23,000 luminaries to honor the men killed, wounded or missing during the September 1862 battle. Visitors can dedicate their own luminary that will be displayed on the grounds of the Newcomer House during the months leading up to the event.
  • Civil War Christmas in Shepherdstown: the college town just across the Potomac River from Sharpsburg offers a suite of family-friendly activities during the first weekend in December. The celebration includes a parade, living history encampments, period activities for children, and programs at Ferry Hill Plantation along the C&O Canal.
  • Old Tyme Christmas in Harpers Ferry: This national historical park comes alive to celebrate yuletide traditions during the first weekend in December. Don't miss the candy-making workshop and living history encampment: Captain Flagg’s US Quartermaster City, 1864: Prospects of Peace.
  • Civil War Encampment: Reenactors camp on the grounds of the Carroll County Farm Museum grounds in Westminster to show how troops celebrated the holidays during the Civil War including a pay muster, mail call, infantry drill and skirmish. Children can make ornaments onsite and help decorate the camp Christmas tree.
  • Traditional Village Christmas: The historic village of Catoctin Furnace in Northern Frederick County offers a glimpse into the past with old-fashioned Christmas treats. Decorate a fresh wreath, select unique handmade gifts, visit historic homes in the village, and meet Kris Kingling.
  • Museums by Candlelight: Frederick County museums welcome visitors at no charge on the second Saturday in December. During this self-guided event, enjoy period demonstrations, living history vignettes, hands-on crafts, refreshments, tours, music, holiday decorations and historic settings by candlelight as night falls.
  • Historic houses of worship tours: Visitors to Hagerstown and Frederick can tour the cities' historic churches, many of which were standing during the Civil War and even served as makeshift hospitals after the Maryland Campaign of 1862, by candlelight. 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the tour in Frederick.

Looking for a hotel package for your visit to the area? 

The SpringHill Suites Hagerstown is offering a special Winter Lights & Lore Package for the weekend of December 2-4, 2016. Rooms start at $99 and must be booked by November 18. The package includes:

  • A DVD of the Emmy award-winning film, Maryland’s Heart of the Civil War (2012) 
  • Luminary dedication kit, for those who would like to decorate and dedicate a luminary to be added to the illumination at the Newcomer House on December 3
  • Vouchers to be redeemed for coupon books at Premium Outlets
  • Big Cork Vineyards discount – two for one
  • Pry House Field Hospital Museum – two for one admission plus 10% shop discount
  • GeoCoin for those who successfully complete the Heart of the Civil War GeoTrail