Victorian Candlelit Christmas Tradition Continues to Grow

Hattiesburg Christmas Tradition Continues to Grow

November 16, 2017 (Hattiesburg, Miss.)– The Hattiesburg Downtown Association, in partnership with Hattiesburg Historic Neighborhood, the City of Hattiesburg and VisitHattiesburg, is hosting an “Olde Tyme Christmas” on Dec. 9-10, 2017, filled with holiday festivities. Local residents and visitors are invited to attend the weekend of events downtown.  

“The atmosphere during this weekend will be nostalgic and family-friendly. Candle luminaries will line the streets of the historic neighborhood and Downtown Hattiesburg, and horse-drawn wagon rides will be offered. Holiday shopping opportunities will be in abundance with street vendors and our traditional downtown storefronts. Add the outdoor Christmas music in Town Square Park, and visitors will be sure to find their holiday cheer,” Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association Executive Director Andrea Saffle said.

“The Victorian Candlelit Christmas, Front Street Holiday Art Market, Lucky Rabbit Market, South Mississippi Art Association Annual Art Show, Jingle Jam Music in the Park, and the Christmas downtown window display competition are also included in the Olde Tyme Christmas weekend festivities,” Saffle said.

The Annual Victorian Candlelit Christmas event is a longtime, two-day holiday favorite that draws hundreds of visitors from across the region to explore the spectacle of 18,000 white bags with flickering candles, lining the sidewalks of the Historic Neighborhood and the Downtown District. Guests experience the nostalgia of a simpler time as they walk along streets lined with luminaries and see more than 300 homes and businesses decorated for the holidays. In the neighborhood, visitors can enjoy the popular horse-drawn carriage rides, the Holiday Tour of Historic Homes, refreshments at the Walthall, and carolers throughout the district. 

“I am excited to have the City participating again this year by lining the streets of Downtown with luminaries. It’s inspiring to see this tradition grow. The luminaries will extend throughout Downtown Hattiesburg on both Saturday and Sunday nights, and this year we are adding Jingle Jam, Music in the Park at Town Square Park on Saturday,” Saffle said.

“Front Street will be closed, and most of the downtown businesses will be open late. Feel free to bring the whole family, grab a bite, stroll through our candlelit streets and enjoy all the festivities. Stop by our information booth for a map to explore all that this Holiday celebration has to offer,” Saffle said.

With the new “Go Cup” zone in downtown, adults can grab a drink and stroll through the candle-lined streets, checking out the artists and artisan crafter booths along Front Street. Explore the various galleries and shops including: The Lucky Rabbit, OddFellows Gallery, the Kress Gallery, The Open Studio on Front, McKenzie’s on Main, Walnut Square Gifts & Stationery, Southern Fried Comics, Main Street Books, and The Shop Downtown. Pop-up shops and live music will be on display throughout downtown, including the Calico Mall pop-up shop in the America Building. Guest are encouraged to stroll down to view all of the Holiday Window displays throughout downtown and to take in the Mississippi Bicentennial photo exhibition “Celebrating the Storytellers” that fills the windows of various businesses and storefronts along Main, West Pine and Front Streets. 

“Grab a bite and a cocktail at one of our downtown pubs or restaurants like Bianchi’s Pizzeria, Front Street Bar, The End Zone, Town Square Cafe, Twin Forks Wine & Provisions, The Porter, SoPro Taproom, Jazmo’s, or Blu Jazz Cafe, ” Saffle said.

Schedule of Activities:

Saturday and Sunday:

  • Victorian Candlelit Christmas: 18,000 luminaries will light the sidewalks throughout the Historic Neighborhood and Downtown. 
  • Carriage rides will circle through the neighborhood leaving the Walthall (600 Rebecca Ave.) starting at 5 p.m. and continuing until 9 p.m. Each will take 15-20 minutes. Tickets for the carriage rides will be $10 for adults, $5 for children under 12 and will be sold only at the Walthall both days.
  • FREE Grove Transit Shuttle will be available between various marked parking lots for Walthall, Open Houses and Downtown. Refreshments will be for sale in the Walthall, including hot chocolate, coffee, chili, and baked goods. 
  • Holiday Tour of Homes will feature historic homes and the Masonic Lodge. The Tour of Homes will run Saturday and Sunday from 5:30pm until 8:30pm. Tickets available at the Walthall.
  • “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All” holiday window displays throughout downtown.
  • Bay Street Presbyterian Church (202 Short Bay St.), which is the oldest surviving church structure in the city, will host an “Old Fashioned Carol Sing” with the pipe organ on Saturday at 6 p.m. and on Sunday at 6 p.m. carol singing on the front porch.

Saturday Only:

  • Court Street United Methodist Church (609 Southern Ave.) presents the Victorian Christmas Café on Dec. 9from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tickets are $5.00 per plate, $20.00 for family of five. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will be in the chapel from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., and there will be a Live Manger Scene Petting Zoo. Contact courtstreetumc@bellsouth.net or call 601.583.1711 for ticket information.
  • Sacred Heart Church is hosting Christmas Carolers on the Steps from 6 to 7 p.m. 
  • The “Brew HoHo Celebration” kicks off at the Historic Saenger Theater at 9 p.m. This ticketed event benefits the Hub City Players.
  • Jingle Jam: Music in the Park is at Town Square Park from 5 to 9 p.m.
  • Front Street Holiday Market is from 5 to 8:30 p.m. 
  • The South Mississippi Art Association is hosting its 41st Annual Holiday Art Show at the Historic Train Depot from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. 
  • HAC’s Open Studio on Front Street will host artist Nicole Clinton.

Background History of Victorian Candlelit Christmas

Candlelighting began in the Hattiesburg Historic Neighborhood District in 1976 as a way to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial as well as to draw attention to the renovation going on in the district, characterized by homes built between 1884 and 1930. The neighborhood has changed from a declining section populated mostly by older residents to a lively, attractive neighborhood that is home to a vibrant mix of families with young children to retirees and everything in between.

Candlelighting has grown from a one-day display of a few thousand candles to a two-day event with about 18,000 luminaries and other activities. Each year as dusk falls and the candles are lit, hundreds of local and out-of-town visitors flow into the neighborhood, strolling or driving along the streets lined with the glowing candles. Neighborhood residents and visitors walk from house to house, stopping to chat and admire decorations. Many house parties are held to celebrate the season in the glow of thousands of candles.