Two weeks ago when I did my Haunt Jaunt of the Week segment on “Keeping the Spirits Alive!”, I spoke about a great place to find the ghosts of Christmas Past: Jekyll Island. What I meant by “ghosts of Christmas past” was a historic place dedicated to bringing the Christmas season from bygone eras alive. It also just so happens that the Jekyll Island Club Hotel entertains spirits of the paranormal variety year-round.
I decided to create a post about other such places. Places that deck the halls in a major way for the holiday season, where you can get a sense of Christmases past, and that are haunted.
BRACEBRIDGE DINNER AT THE AHWAHNEE HOTEL – YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA
For the Christmas season, the Ahwahnee Hotel offers “a seven-course formal dinner, presented as a feast given by a Renaissance-era lord.” It is inspired by a story by Washington Irving (The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent and a Yule celebration described within.)
I saw this 17th century English feast on the Travel Channel the other night. With this post in mind, I researched the hotel to find out if it had any ghost sightings. Yep.
One of the hotel’s former operators, Mary Curry Tresidder, has been reported on the sixth floor, where she used to live. Maids have also reported a rocking chair rocking on its own in the parlor of a fourth floor suite. The catch to this one is: there is no rocking chair in that room.
Other reports suggest ghosts from when the hotel was used by the Navy as a convalescent hospital kin 1943 might account for sightings on the mezzanine level and the third floor.
To learn more about the Bracebridge Dinner or the Ahwahnee Hotel, visit the hotel’s website.
CHRISTMAS IN VICTORIAN CAPE MAY – CAPE MAY, NJ
In 2010, Haunt Jaunts “awarded” Cape May with the distinction of being the City that Best Promoted Its Paranormal Tourism. This seaside vacation spot is a National Historic Landmark thanks to all of its Victorian architecture, and in the last few years has really stood out as a haunted travel destination.
At Christmas, there are many ways to feel the ghosts of Christmas past.
- Take a Cape May Christmas Tour that takes you on a trolley tour of the area’s mansions and a tour of one of the B&Bs.
- Experience the “sights, sounds, tastes and scents of the Dickens’ era” via the Cape May Dickens Christmas Extravaganza.
- Stroll at your leisure admiring the sights on a self-guided Christmas Candlelight House tour.
- The Physick Estate decks its halls with authentic Victorian Christmas decorations and opens its doors to Christmas tours. It’s also considered Cape May’s “original haunted house.” Among the ghosts are Dr. Physick’s Aunt Emilie and several of his dogs.
- Cape May’s ghost tours also operate at this time of year, so you can learn about the town’s haunted history with ChristmaChristmas Tour you can step back into time with
o learn about all the Christmas activities in Cape May, visit their website.
CHRISTMAS IN HISTORIC WILLIAMSBURG – WILLIAMSBURG, VA
Whether you like music, dancing, eating, etc., you can find a ton of ways to experience Christmas through the eras (from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War the Big Band era of the 1940s) in “Colonial” Williamsburg during the holiday season. And if you’re looking for ghosts, there are tours for that too.
- Take a Christmas decoration walking tour
- Cry witch (or not) as you sit as if you were a juror and listen to charges brought against Grace Sherwood, who was charged as a witch in 1706.
- Take the “Ghosts Amongst us” ghost tour and learn about Williamsburg’s haunted history.
- Really find some spirits on the Tavern Ghost Walks.
- Have a Dickens of a good time experiencing a Victorian Christmas with A Charles Dickens Christmas.
- Experience a Colonial Christmas in the Jamestown Settlement.
- Tour Bassett Hall and get a sense of how John D. Rockefeller and his family celebrated Chr5istmas circa 1940.
To learn more about all the ways to enjoy Christmas in Colonial Williamsburg, visit their website.
CHRISTMAS AT THE JEKYLL ISLAND CLUB HOTEL – JEKYLL ISLAND, GA
If you want to explore a place where the likes of J.P. Morgan, William Rockefeller, Vincent Astor, Joseph Pulitzer, and William K. Vanderbilt once vacationed, head to Jekyll Island. Some even had vacation “cottages” there. Cottages is in quotes because what they called cottages the rest of us would call mansions. They were grand, lavish, and befitting the society who frequented them in the summer.
The cottages didn’t come first, however. What attracted these powerful and wealthy men was the Jekyll Island Club, which opened in 1888. It was built to be a hunting club for wealthy northerners, but evolved into the most exclusive club in the U.S.
All architecture reflects that period of time, so Victorian. But the crown jewel is the Queen Anne style club (now a hotel) with its impressive turret.
But are there ghosts there? Yep. And what I like is the hotel is open about them. So much so they have an archive of Ghost Stories on their site which details some of the sightings and activity. You can learn about Samuel Spencer, a railroad magnate who died on a train but is said to still visit a suite in the Annex. (The one on the second floor, last door on the left.)
Room 2416 is also rumored to have activity. One windless night a couple staying in that room reported the balcony doors blowing open only, a bright light shining in, and them the doors shutting by themselves.
At Christmas, Jekyll Island decks its hall, and so does the the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. Lights are plentiful (you can take a trolley tour to see them) an d the hotel offers special holiday meals and even a holiday high tea. (They always have high tea, but jazz it up even more for Christmas.)
To learn more about Christmas at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel (or its ghosts), visit their website.
CHRISTMAS IN NEWPORT – NEWPORT, RI
For Christmas there really isn’t a lot as far as ghost tours going on in Newport at Christmas. Newport’s Grand Dame of haunted houses, Belcourt Castle, is closed for the season and its ghost tours are also on hiatus for the season.
However, Newport is a haunted town. It’s also historical and loaded with architectural gems, perhaps most notably the Newport Mansions. During Christmas season Newport decks its halls and celebrates it’s Colonial, Revolutionary War, Victorian and Gilded Age roots with events like Holiday Lantern Tours of Historic Newport and a Candlelight Tour of Historic Private Newport Homes.
If you want to stay somewhere rumored to be haunted, try Newport’s Hotel Viking. According to Shadowlands and Ghost Traveller, there are reports of a “phantom party” that sometimes disturbs guests. Another reported spooky stay is the Agassiz Mansion at the Castle Hill Inn & Resort. A female spirit is said to roam this elegant retreat.
To learn more about Christmas celebrations in Newport, visit their website.
CHRISTMAS IN QUEBEC – CANADA
When conducting a search for best places to spend Christmas, Quebec kept making the lists. We jaunted there in early Fall back in 2010. It was enchanting. I can only imagine adding in a dose of cold weather, some snow, and those cobbled streets that glowed in the gaslight at night would be even more magical.
Things to do in Quebec at Christmas include:
- Exploring Christmas markets (just like they have in Europe!)
- Nativity scenes
- Festive lights
Sort of like Newport, R.I., there’s not exactly ghost-centric Christmas activities going on in Quebec, but Quebec’s architectural crown jewel, the Cheateau Frontenac, would make a delightful Christmas getaway. It’s in the heart of Old Quebec and is alleged to be haunted. Supposedly the Governor of New France, Louis de Buade, wanders in search of his fiancee, who was still in Europe when he passed. Another ghost, a woman, is said to roam in her nightgown and is sometimes known to lie in bed with guests.
Another haunted Quebec gem is the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. When we did the Ghost Tour of Quebec, this was a building we got to actually go into and hear about the ghost or ghosts inside. Apparently they’re not sure if it’s the lady who killed her illegitimate child,or a lady who was buried alive inside who haunt the church, but many have reported a female apparition in the balcony. What better place to attend Christmas Eve or Christmas Day mass?
To learn more about the activities going on in Quebec for the holiday season, visit their website.
CHRISTMAS IN VICTORIA, B.C. – CANADA
If you like ghost tours, history, and charming locales, with the added bonus of Christmas flair, Victoria has got you covered. In addition to holiday lights galore, concerts, and shows, Victoria boasts three ghost tours:
- The Ghosts of Christmas Past (“specifically designed to focus on ghost stories and the supernatural at Christmas in Victoria”)
- Christmas in Old Victoria
- Chinatown Walks
The Old Cemeteries Society also offers Christmas tours in December. (“Stories told are tales of Christmas that happened in the 1800s to the people buried in the cemeteries.”)
Like Quebec’s Chateau Frontenac, Victoria’s grand historic hotel (also a Fairmont Hotels and Resorts property) is The Empress Hotel. At Christmas it is festooned in holiday finery, and, yes, is purported to be haunted. A woman is commonly reported on the sixth floor. She appears and asks for help finding her room, only to disappear when people attempt to help her.
For more information on the above ghost tours of other Christmas in Victoria events, visit their website.