Hudson Valley Dressed In Holiday Finest, December candlelight tours showcase history and romance of Washington Irving’s Sunnyside and Van Cortlandt Manor

Starting Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 23-25, visitors to Washington Irving’s Sunnyside and Van Cortlandt Manor — two historic properties nestled along the Hudson River — have a chance to see the sites dressed for the holidays.

And during select December weekend evenings, the sites will be bathed only in the light of candles, harkening back to the country’s pre-electric days of horse-drawn carriages and hoop skirts.

Just off Route 9 in Tarrytown, Sunnyside and its charming, romantic waterfront landscape will be entirely lit by candlelight for four evenings: Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8-9, and 15-16. Tours are offered from 4-8 each evening and reservations are a must. Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling 914-631-8200, Ext. 618. Sunnyside is at 89 West Sunnyside Lane.

During the tours, quotes from Washington Irving and a bounty of candles help illuminate the holiday experience. A special treat takes place in the parlor, where Irving’s circa 1830s pianoforte is played and visitors are invited to join in singing Christmas carols. At the end of the tour, hot cider is served outside, where visitors can stay warm next to a bonfire.

Candlelight evenings will also feature musical performances: Dec. 8, the Sleepy Hollow High School Chamber Singers; Dec. 9, Hackley School music department; Dec. 16, TBA; and Dec. 17, the Dobbs Ferry High School choir.

Candlelight tours of Van Cortlandt Manor, the Croton-on-Hudson home of The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, take place Friday and Saturday, Dec. 21-22, and Friday through Sunday, 28-30. Tours are offered from 4-8 each evening, and reservations are a must. Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling 914-631-8200, Ext. 618. Van Cortlandt Manor is at 525 South Riverside Avenue in Croton, just off Route 9A.

After a tour of the Manor House, which will be decorated for Christmas and features a harpist in the formal parlor, a guide carrying a candlelit lantern brings visitors to the site’s Ferry House, where a first-person account of Twelfth Night takes place, featuring the Lord of Misrule who leads the festivities. Inside the Ferry House, visitors are encouraged to dance to fiddle music and outside, to toast the season with cider and cookies near the warmth of a bonfire.

Both historic sites are open from 10-4. Sunnyside is open daily except Tuesdays through Dec. 31. Van Cortlandt Manor is open weekends through Dec. 31. Two other Historic Hudson Valley properties, Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, and the Union Church of Pocantico Hills, are also open Thanksgiving Weekend. All Historic Hudson Valley sites are closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for children 5-17, and free for those under five and for members of Historic Hudson Valley. Full information on all of the properties can be found at

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About the Author: Rob Schweitzer