Victorian Candlelit: Christmas tradition continues to grow

The Downtown Hattiesburg Association, in partnership with the Hattiesburg Historic Neighborhood Association, will celebrate the holiday season with the Downtown Candlelit Christmas on Saturday, December 14, and Sunday, December 15. The holiday tradition is now in its 43rd year and is one of the longest-running holiday traditions in Hattiesburg.

The event includes a variety of activities taking place throughout the weekend, all centered in and around downtown Hattiesburg. Hosted by and taking place in the Hattiesburg Historic Neighborhood, festivities take place around the luminarias and other traditional activities and expand into the greater downtown district. 

 This year’s Downtown Candlelit Christmas event will include the Ghosts of Christmas Past Walking Tours presented by HCLO (ticketed event), extended holiday shopping at downtown merchants, a hop-on/hop-off shuttle provided by Grove Transit that will connect visitors to the neighborhood and locations around downtown, visits with Santa and children’s activities hosted by SmART Space in the Carter Building on Front Street, South MS Art Association’s Annual Art Show at the Train Depot, holiday music performances at various churches, and historic home tours.

The annual Victorian Candlelit Christmas is a two-day holiday-favorite event 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 are invited to experience the nostalgia of a simpler time as they travel historic streets lined with luminarias alongside more than 300 homes and businesses decorated for the holidays with garlands, bows, and twinkling lights.

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.

Carriage rides will be available around the neighborhood and various homes will be open for tours. Both carriage rides and home tour tickets will be sold at the Walthall Community Center located at 600 Rebecca Avenue. 

Other joyous activities include caroling at Sacred Heart Church and choral and Deep South Ringers handbell choir performances at Bay Street Presbyterian Church. Court Street United Methodist Church will host its annual Christmas Café and visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus on Saturday and invites visitors to stop in for an Open House on Sunday evening. 

"The streets will be lit and downtown businesses will be open late for this holiday celebration,” said Andrea Saffle, executive director of the Downtown Hattiesburg Association. “We invite participants to bring the whole family, grab a bite to eat, and stroll through our candlelit streets to enjoy the festivities.

“Families will certainly want to stop by our Santa’s Village in the Carter Building off of Front Street for a photo opportunity with Santa and exciting children’s art activities.

“In addition, Town Square Park will be decked out as a winter wonderland of lights and there will be Christmas music and caroling at various locations throughout downtown to get visitors in the Christmas cheer. Everywhere visitors go, they’ll find holiday activities.”

Maps will be available at the Carter Building for visitors to pick up and see times and places for various activities.

With downtown’s "To-Go Cup” ordinance, adults can grab a drink and stroll through the candle-lined streets, enjoying the activities throughout downtown.

Shops and galleries open for evening hours include Bloom’s: A Garden Shop, Oddfellows Gallery, McKenzie's on Main, Walnut Square Stationary & Gifts, Main Street Books, Twin Forks Wine & Provisions, Ruby Nails, and The Shop Downtown. Patrons can also grab tasty food and cocktails at a downtown pub or restaurant like Fika Swedish Café, Blu Jazz Café, Nellie’s Chicken & Daiquiris, The Porter, and SoPro Taproom.

For more information about DHA and a complete list of Downtown Candlelit Christmas activities, visit  on Facebook at DowntownHattiesburg.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Saturday, December 14
* 18,000 luminaries will light the sidewalks throughout the Historic Neighborhood and Downtown.
* Carriage rides leaving from the Walthall (600 Rebecca Ave) starting at 5pm-9pm and circling thru the neighborhood. (carriage rides take about 15-20 minutes) Tickets $10 adult, $5 kids 2–12yrs, lap riders are free.
* Holiday Tour of Homes will feature three historic homes. The Tour of Homes will run Saturday and Sunday from 5:30 until 8:30pm. Tickets available at the Walthall for $10.
* Refreshments will be for sale in the Walthall – hot chocolate, coffee, chili, baked goods.
* FREE Grove Transit Shuttle between various marked parking lots, Walthall, open houses and downtown.
* Court Street United Methodist Church presents the Victorian Christmas Café from 5:50-7 :30p.m. Saturday, December 8, from; featuring Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus pictures. They will also offer homemade chili and red beans and rice in the Candlelight Café. Tickets are $5 for singles and $20 for family of five. Contact  or call (601) 583.1711 for ticket information.
* Bay Street Presbyterian Church, 202 Short Bay St., the oldest surviving church structure in the city, will host an “Old Fashioned Carol Sing” on the steps, 6pm Saturday.
* Sacred Heart Church- Carol Sing on the steps, times 6-7:30 pm.
* Ghosts of Christmas Past Walking Tour presented by HCLO take a stroll back in time and hear stories of Hattiesburg’s history from some of its colorful characters. Tickets available on-line and HCLO’s Facebook page.
* South Mississippi Art Association – 43rd Annual Holiday Art Show at the Historic Train Depot, 11am-8:30pm
* Downtown – Shops will be open late for holiday shopping some will have live music and refreshments, pick up a map at any of our downtown shops to explore all of the festivities.
* Santa’s Village – Photo opportunity with Santa and kid’s activities
* Town Square Park will be decked out as a winter wonderland of lights,

Sunday, December 15       
* 18,000 luminaries will light the sidewalks throughout the Historic Neighborhood and Downtown.
* Hayrides leaving from the Walthall (600 Rebecca Ave) starting at 5- 9pm and circling thru the neighborhood. (rides take about 15-20 minutes) Tickets $5 for everyone, kids under 4 are free.
* Refreshments will be for sale in the Walthall – hot chocolate, coffee, chili, baked goods
* FREE Grove Transit Shuttle between various marked parking lots, Walthall, Open Houses and Downtown.
* Court Street United Methodist Church presents Christmas open house from 5:50- 7:30pm with refreshments.
* Bay Street Presbyterian Church, 202 Short Bay St., the oldest surviving church structure in the city will host an “South Ringers Hand bell Choir” at 6pm, 6:45pm
* Holiday Tour of Homes will feature three historic homes. The Tour of Homes will run from 5:30 until 8:30pm. Tickets available at the Walthall.

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