Celebrating the season: from gilded luxury to simple traditions in West Volusia
As holiday happenings go, there is nothing quite like the Stetson Mansion, decked out in full regalia for its annual Christmas celebration. The Stetson Mansion Christmas tours are the highlight of any holiday visit to DeLand and the West Volusia region. This Victorian mansion on Florida’s first-ever luxury estate is open daily for tours (advance reservations required) which offer a step back in time. The estate was built in 1886 for famed hat maker John B. Stetson. Its current residents are carrying on the Stetson tradition of extravagant gatherings with an event described as “over the top in the best meaning of that expression,” by Trip Advisor.
The annual holiday tours are conducted from mid-November through mid-January and decorations change each year. Elaborate displays in each room celebrate a different theme and the home’s rich architectural details make the exhibits even more spectacular. Guides share the stories of the decorations and historic highlights of the mansion as well as the journey of the current owners through an extensive restoration.
For a simpler celebration, the Barberville Pioneer Settlement offers A Florida Christmas Remembered. The one-day event is held on the grounds of this charming village and features living history demonstrations, children’s craft projects and appearances by Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Live music provides entertainment throughout the day, including the sounds of carolers and a hand bell choir.
The settlement is a year-round educational facility which hosts school groups for demonstrations of the pioneer lifestyle of early Floridians, through hands on experience, folk life demonstrations and historical exhibits. During the Christmas season, it becomes the perfect site for renewing old fashioned family holiday traditions.
Highlighting more contemporary locations, the Lake Helen Christmas tour takes visitors through a number of homes and churches as well as historic buildings. This year’s event will be held December 9th -10th and includes refreshments and additional activities sure to ignite the holiday spirit.
The Athens Theatre, a classic American theatre in the heart of downtown DeLand, joins in the holiday celebration with its presentation of “A Christmas Story.” The Tony-winning Broadway smash hit will bring its quirky holiday tale to this historic gem of a theatre, which opened in 1922 and became the centerpiece of this Central Florida region. Shows will run November 30 through December 17 and offer a delightful holiday outing for the entire family.
Holiday celebrations are just one reason to visit the West Volusia region, a destination with stories to tell, history to share and fun to have. Nestled between Orlando and Daytona, West Volusia encompasses fourteen communities with an eclectic collection of accommodations and attractions. The authenticity travelers are looking for is here. From top-rated downtown DeLand to the scenic St. Johns River, this is real Florida. And what variety it offers! Start your journey at www.visitwestvolusia.com.