Jerry and I attended our first ever Yuletide in the Country tour on Sunday night, and it was such an AMAZING experience! I don’t typically blog about these sorts of things, but we had such a great time that I wanted to capture it all and write it down for safekeeping.
About 30 minutes from us is a magical place called the Genesee Country Village and Museum. It’s the largest living history museum in all of New York State. The whole place is designed to look like a 19th century village with houses, businesses, a church, inns, and more. A variety of old buildings line the village and you are instantly transported back in time as you enter these real, genuine 19th century buildings, and even encounter actors dressed in period clothes. I spent many summer days there as a child because my father played in their old fashioned baseball league. My mother and I would often volunteer and dress up in costume to sit in the bleachers, giving all the spectators a real experience of seeing a baseball game in the 1800s.
Yuletide in the Country is a special Christmas event that they put on each year. I hadn’t heard of it until this year when I saw a flyer on our library bulletin board. I was instantly intrigued because it seemed like a unique and festive date night that Jerry and I could go on. He agreed to go and I happily booked our tour. Tickets were $25 a piece. We also saw that they were doing a special buffet dinner that you could also attend as another option. At $30 a piece, it was a bit expensive, but the menu looked fancy and unique. We decided to book the buffet as well for after our tour. In all, the evening cost us $110 for the tour and dinner, and another $10 for beverages. This was MUCH more expensive than our typical night out, but is definitely worth saving up for. Here’s how it went.
The first real snow of the season fell on Sunday… the day of our tour! We were booked for 4:45 and decided to bundle up and head out about 3:45. We dropped Caleb off at my parent’s house and were off! The drive was snowy but also serene and beautiful, as we started to enter the country area where the village and museum are located. Christmas lights and decor greeted us on the streets as we made our way to the museum. We parked and trudged through the snow to the visitor’s center (I think that’s what it was?). It was decked out in beautiful Christmas decor, tables for waiting, a bar, and a check in table. We checked in, were given a brochure detailing each scene and setting we’d soon be seeing, and were told we’d been pushed back to the 5:00 tour. Fine with us, as it gave us time to get settled and peruse the bar. Jerry got a hard cider and I got a Diet Pepsi. We sipped our drinks for a bit until they called our group. We were introduced to our tour guide, and our group of 30 or so was off!
It was a dark evening but our walk was illuminated by lanterns that were lit by candles. Our tour guide carried one and the entire pathway was lined with them. The snow was falling and the scene was just breathtaking.
The tour consisted of stops in eight of the houses and businesses. Each one had its own scene, actors, and short story line, but they all fell under an over-arching story line as well, with a larger connecting story. Our first stop was at an old store. The actors really get into it and the buildings are accurate and realistic, with candles lighting everything instead of modern lights. In fact, our tour guide informed us that these are REAL 19th century buildings that were transported to the village and museum. Because of the realistic nature of the tour, it really felt as though we were transported back in time. Interspersed with the fun story line were also a lot of facts and information too, such as the fact that Christmas was a fairly new holiday still at this time. Who knew?!
We spent a few minutes in each building, then took a short walk to the next one. One of the stops included a surprise visit from Santa, and another stop was at a Christmas “soiree” at the Town Hall, where we got to sample gingersnaps and hot cider. The actors were interactive as well, and at the Town Hall, chose a few people to join them for a dance (not us… phew!). At the stops on the tour that were houses, the “families” really made us feel welcome and as if we were joining them for a visit with lots of “Happy Christmas” exclamations and warm welcomes. Our last stop was also at a home where we partook in a sing along to “O Christmas Tree,” and watched the couple light the candles on their Christmas tree one by one.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself, but was a little nervous to ask Jerry what he thought when we were headed back from the tour to our dinner. To my shock and delight, he loved it too! He said he’s never gotten to see actors performing in front of him and really enjoyed that aspect. In all, the tour took just under two hours, and even though my feet were wet and freezing, my heart was not (aww… right?).
We made it back to the admissions center and immediately went into the banquet hall for our buffet dinner. It was DIVINE. I never use that word, so that’ll give you an idea of how good the food was. The service was great too, with our waitress asking us how our tour was. We enjoyed all kinds of good treats like tortellini, sweet potato souffle, homemade stuffing (my favorite that I’m still dreaming about), turkey, beef with au jus, fresh gravy, and much more. Dessert included some really unique things such as a toffee cake and a rum caramel cake, as well as more classic things such as festive cut out cookies and chocolate mousse with peppermint. We stuffed ourselves silly on the amazing food and were sad to leave when our night was finally over. We stopped to take some pictures on the way out to our car, then said goodbye to a magical evening.
I’ve long been a Halloween addict, putting Christmas a little bit on the back burner, but this event really got me into the Christmas spirit. I loved every second of it, and strongly felt that it was worth every single penny. I’m not lying when I say that immediately following the outing, I already started looking forward to next year. We’ve already decided to make both the tour and the dinner an annual tradition, and as soon as Caleb is old enough, we’ll bring him along, too.
It had been years since I’d last visited the Genesee Country Village and Museum, but I’ve been looking up all kinds of events and outings for us to go to there now. I was reminded of what a cool and unique place it truly is. To all of the staff, volunteers, actors, and everyone else involved… a huge kudos and thank you for bringing the Christmas spirit back to me. I can already say with confidence that this was truly a highlight of my year.