With festivities planned for the entire month of December
Written by Laticia Headings
This year, the Town of Middleburg will be celebrating the holidays all month long with festivities planned throughout December. Kicking off the season, there will be caroling and refreshments at the Pink Box on Friday, December 3, starting at 5 p.m. for the town Christmas tree lighting ceremony with Mayor Bridge Littleton.
The highly anticipated return of Christmas in Middleburg parade will take place on December 4, starting with the Hunt and Hounds Review at 11 a.m. and the main parade at 2 p.m. Parking passes are required.
A host of exciting events has been added to the 2021 Christmas lineup. The festive theme, “A Dickens Christmas in Middleburg,” was pitched by Mary Ann Burns, Chairman of the Middleburg Arts Council, and inspired by her family’s love of the Charles Dickens’ classic novella, “A Christmas Carol,”published in 1843.
“I found an abridged version by a playwright in London and licensed the script with the idea to do a play in Middleburg,” said Burns, who is also the co-owner of Old Ox Brewery, located in Middleburg and Ashburn.
Burns shared her idea with Punkin Lee, owner of Journeymen Saddlers, who brought it to the Middleburg Business and Professional Association. Everyone agreed the theme would bring universal good cheer. “It’s encouragement for people to return to Middleburg after parade day because we have so much to offer throughout December,” said Lee, who has been in business for 45 years. “We’re giving the Dickens theme a three-year run, but regardless of the theme, the month-long festivities will become an annual event.”
For the month of December, businesses will be decorating their storefronts with Dickens-inspired displays and there will be a prize for the best dressed window. In fact, the whole town will be decked out this year. Both the east and west entrances to town, as well as all four corners at the stop light, will have Christmas tree displays adorned with lights.
Visitors will be able to step back in time at the Old Ox Brewery, which will be transformed into a Dickens pub with special winter brews and a menu reminiscent of the Victorian era. “It’s just another step in the evolution to have holiday activities in Middleburg all month long instead of just one day for the parade,” Burns said.
Each weekend in December, visitors will be greeted by carolers and street performers dressed in period costumes handing out candy canes and taking photos. Carriage rides through downtown will be available for purchase and the Town of Middleburg will be giving out free hot chocolate at Scruffy’s Ice Cream Parlor. Holiday revelers may even get lucky and run into Middleburg Huntsman Richard Roberts and his pack of hounds for a family-friendly meet and greet.
The “What is it?” display will make appearances around town and will feature gizmos and gadgets from centuries past. Mystery items from daily life in the 19th and early 20th-century are sure to bamboozle family members, even grandma and grandpa! All of these artifacts are part of the Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum’s hands-on education collection.
On Saturday, December 11, all naughty and nice canines will have a chance to strut their holiday spirit in the first annual Dickens of a Dog Show. Prizes and “barking rights” will be awarded to the dog with the best holiday costume, the best costume with a Middleburg theme, and the best-dressed human. Participants can register in advance or onsite starting at 11:30 a.m. Registration is $10 and all proceeds benefit the Middleburg Humane Society. Please check the websites listed at the bottom of this article for information about the venue as the date approaches. Dogs must be on leash at all times.
There will be a Run Like the Dickens 5K and Walk Like the Dickens One Mile on Sunday, December 12. Runners will leave from the Old Ox Brewery parking lot and race through Hill School grounds. Participants are encouraged to put on their ugly sweaters and crazy Christmas hats and join the fun!
Dance Like the Dickens will be happening on Saturday, December 18 at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. The Civil War Dance Foundation will perform dances from the Victorian era, during which everyone will be invited to participate.
Also on Saturday, “A Christmas Carol” will come to life during two outdoor performances on S. Madison Street at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. (run time 30-40 minutes). Journey back to 19th-century London where the ghosts of Christmas pay a visit to the notorious Ebenezer Scrooge.
“Middleburg is filled with talented people, and I was pleased local actors wanted to be part of this,” Burns said. This adapted version will be directed by Middleburg freelance theater director, Erin Coulter. Several New York thespians will also join the cast to make this an unforgettable Middleburg experience.
Jackson Thompson and his girlfriend, Alice Sherman, are long-time actors who are sharing the role of narrator. The couple lives in Queens, New York, and got involved through Thompson’s aunt, Jennifer Long of Long Design, who serves on the Middleburg Arts Council. “I went to high school in Leesburg, college at James Madison University, and I have family in Middleburg, so I have been coming here for holidays and family events for the past 20 years,” Thompson said.
In 2015, Thompson and Sherman performed together in “A Christmas Carol” at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, Alabama. “This is near and dear to our hearts. It’s such a magical story,” Thompson said.
Admission for “A Christmas Carol” is free and seating will be provided, so don’t be a humbug and be there! ML
This article first appeared in the December 2021 Issue.