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Oatlands Plantation swings open its doors for Christmas tours

It's beginning to look like Christmas in some of the region's great houses. Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg, Va., is among the first of the great houses to show off its lavish holiday decorations. "Christmas at Oatlands" opens Saturday and continues through Dec. 20 with tours offered daily (except Thanksgiving Day) from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sundays.

This 18-room mansion captures the holiday atmosphere of the 1880s, reflecting the taste of the original owners. The large tree -- in the parlor will be trimmed with paper chains, popcorn, cranberries and paper lanterns, and mantels and doorways will be draped in greenery and natural materials from the estate.

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Candlelight tours will take place every Saturday between 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Costumed actors will show how the Carter family spent the holidays during the early days of the plantation. A new feature this year is the re-enactment of the wedding preparations of Elizabeth Grayson Carter, one of the daughters of the second generation of Carter family. The wedding took place at Oatlands on Christmas Day in 1893. Admission to the candlelight tours is $6.

Daytime tours cost $5; free for children under 12. All visitors can enjoy cider and home-baked cookies. On Dec. 12, St. Nicholas will visit Oatlands. Children will find him in the carriage house from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

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Oatlands is six miles south of Leesburg, Va., on U.S. Route 15. For information, call (703) 777-3174.

Museum Shopping

The Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington is sponsoring its fourth annual Festival of Museum Shopping next weekend from Friday to Sunday.

This is the largest festival to date with representatives from 26 museum shops in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and D.C. Each will bring quality merchandise from their shops to sell at the festival. You'll find fraktur work from Ephrata Cloister, miniature German chests from the Hershey Museum of American Life, Shakespearean memorabilia from the Folger Shakespeare Library, Russian and French decorative art from the Hillwood Museum, along with Christmas ornaments, decorations and wrappings.

Joining the festival for the first time are the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Franklin Institute Science Museum, Longwood Gardens, the Delaware Nature Society and the Harrison Township Historical Society of Mulica Hill, N.J., which will have a display of a traditional country store interior complete with old publications, regional foods, dry goods and toys.

The festival will be held in both the Soda House and the Library building, with light luncheon fare available at the Soda House. Hours are 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $3.50; free for children under 6. Museum admission is extra. Use the museum's Buck Road East entrance off state Route 100. For information, call (302) 658-2400, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Philadelphia Art Show

A nationally acclaimed art event will take place this week in Philadelphia. The annual Philadelphia Art Show & Sale will be held Thursday through Nov. 23 at the Adam's Mark Hotel Exhibition Center.

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The event was originally organized by four parents of children with life-threatening illnesses to raise funds for the hematology-oncology clinic at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. Now, 12 years later, it is the largest art show and sale for charity in the country. The show features about 4,000 works by local, regional, national and international artists with prices ranging from $25 to $100,000.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23. Admission is $8 for one ticket; $15 for two. The center is at Interstate 76 and U.S. Route 1 in Philadelphia. For information, call (215) 427-5061.

Waterfowl Week

Waterfowl Week will be observed Saturday through Nov. 29 at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Chincoteague, Va. It is the only time the service road on the northern end of the island is open. Visitors will be able to drive out to see the thousands of snow geese, ducks and other waterfowl during what could be the peak of the fall migration. The service road will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Several guided nature walks are planned at 10 a.m. from the refuge visitor center. "A Marsh for All Seasons" is the title of one walk, scheduled Thursday and Saturday. Friday's walk focuses on animals indigenous to the area, and on Sunday an early bird walk is planned.

Activities are free with a $3 entrance fee, which is good for seven days. Call (804) 336-6122.

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The sixth annual Waterfowl Show will take place Nov. 27 and 28 at the Chincoteague High School gymnasium on North Main Street. This is a juried exhibition of decoy carvings and wildfowl art with demonstrations by many of the artisans. The show's featured carver, Robert Joseph Watson, and featured artist, Kevin McBride, will both donate one of their works for a raffle on Saturday. Refreshments will be available. Hours are 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. The annual auction is scheduled after the close of the show on Saturday. Admission is $2 per person per day; free for children under 12 accompanied by an adult. Proceeds benefit the Deborah Hospital Foundation. For information, call (804) 336-3478.

Delaware Antiques Show

Winterthur Museum and Gardens is the sponsor for this year's 29th annual Delaware Antiques Show Friday through next Sunday at the Du Pont Country Club in Wilmington. Proceeds will benefit children's educational programs at the museum.

The expanded show has a roster of 40 dealers from around the country, and several special events have been planned. The loan exhibition, "In Pursuit of Treasures: Collector's Choice," consists selected objects from private collections, each with an unusual story about its acquisition. There will be talks by Dwight P. Lanmon, the newly appointed director of Winterthur; Ellen G. Miles, curator of the National Portrait Gallery; and Albert M. Sack, a New York antiques dealer. A Young Collectors' Evening, an antiques appraisal workshop, tours and luncheons are other features.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. The $10 admission fee includes a catalog and parking. The club is on Rockland Road off state Route 141 in Wilmington. For information, call (302) 655-5126.

Threshing Day

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An 18th-century Threshing Day will be held at the Claude Moore Colonial Farm at Turkey Run in McLean, Va., next Sunday (weather permitting) from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Visitors can assist with the fall chores by helping the farmer thresh and winnow wheat or make yeast cakes with the farmer's wife. Afterward there will be time for 18th-century games and hot cider and sugar cakes.

Admission is $3 for adults; $1.50 for senior citizens and children ages 3 to 12. The farm is at 6310 Georgetown Pike in McLean. For information, call (703) 442-7557.

'Foods and Feasts'

"Foods and Feasts in 17th Century Virginia" will be the subject of historical interpretations at Jamestown Settlement over the Thanksgiving holiday Nov. 26-28.

At James Fort you can see a whole hog processed for sausage, hams and chops, open hearth cooking demonstrations, pastry preparations and pickling and preserving fruits and vegetables. Aboard the Susan Constant you will hear about the 17th-century seaman's diet, and interpreters at the Indian village will prepare vegetable stews and roast game birds and fish over the open fire.

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Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults; $3.50 for children ages 6 to 12. The museum is on state Route 31 just southwest of Williamsburg, Va. For information, call (804) 229-1607.


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