A! Magazine for the Arts

Festival of Trees is held

November 7, 2023

Big Stone Gap, VA.The Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park presents the 28th Annual Festival of Trees. The Festival of Trees will begin on Sunday, Nov. 12 through Sunday, Dec. 31. An incredible feat of community creativity and involvement, the Festival of Trees leaves all four floors of the stately Victorian home that houses the museum’s collections, lavishly decorated for the holiday season.

The tradition of the Festival of Trees began to celebrate the holiday traditions of the Victorian era as well as to honor the role that C. Bascom Slemp — the driving force behind the establishment of the museum — played in establishing the American tradition of a “national Christmas tree.” Slemp served as the personal secretary to President Calvin Coolidge. In 1923, a group from the Electrical League and the Washington, D.C. public schools approached him with an idea for a Christmas tree to be erected on the White House lawn. Slemp took the idea to the First Lady, Grace Coolidge, who took up the cause. She recommended that the tree be placed on the ellipse south of the White House, and a tradition was born.

Volunteers from the Southwest Virginia region continue these traditions by decorating holiday trees, mantels, doorwaysand banisters throughout the Southwest Virginia Museum, sharing their creative talents and holiday spirit with all who visit the site. This year, over 80 groups contributed their time and talent to create displays.

Visitors may tour the Festival of Trees from Nov. 12 through Dec. 31, during regular museum hours and during special “night viewings.” Night viewings are scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 24 and 25, Dec. 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30. Regular admission rates apply, adults - $5, children 6-12 - $3, and children under 6 are free. Group rates are available for parties of 10 or more. For more information about the Festival of Trees, contact the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park at (276) 523-1322.