From the warm glow of a hand-dipped beeswax candle at Old Salem’s Candle Tea to the shimmer of more than a million twinkling lights at Tanglewood Park’s annual Festival of Lights, Winston-Salem knows how to turn on the cheer during the holiday season. Read on to learn about three of our favorite holiday traditions to experience during your next visit, plus get tips for mastering three different styles of holiday decor from the experts charged with decorating some of Winston-Salem’s top attractions.
Candle Tea in Old Salem
A Christmas tradition since 1929, Home Moravian Church’s Candle Tea takes place at the Single Brothers House across from Salem Square in Old Salem. During the event, visitors experience early Moravian Christmas traditions. In addition to a tour of the house led by costumed interpreters, guests enjoy carols accompanied by a 1798 Tannenberg organ, watch as beeswax candles are made by hand, and try traditional Moravian sugar cake and lovefeast coffee.
Visitor Tip: As an event that draws more than 10,000 visitors each year, crowds can be heavy. Try attending on a Thursday afternoon for shorter wait times.
Decorating Tips Inspired by Historic Moravians:
- Create a triangle-shaped wooden pyramid, like one that would have been on display in a Moravian home. Decorate the pyramid’s shelves with nativity scene characters, seasonal books, candles, or local greenery and fruit for authenticity or add personal touches to make this tradition your own.
- Try adding beeswax candles to your windows for a simple, gentle glow and gather greenery from the local landscape to spruce up your doorway.
Reynolda House Museum of American Art
This year marks the 101st Christmas at Reynolda House, but the decorating traditions remain much the same as the very first year. The 1917 country estate of R.J. and Katharine Reynolds (today an American art museum) decorates for the holiday season just as Katharine Smith Reynolds did with natural elements and personal touches. Join Reynolda for a number of special holiday programs, including wreath-making workshops, caroling, and a Carolina Brass holiday pops concert.
Decorating Tips a la Katharine Reynolds:
- Incorporate natural greenery from your own backyard into your holiday decor. Katharine loved magnolia leaves, nandina berries, pine cones, cotton, and even dried flowers. These can easily be used in a gorgeous centerpiece or mantle display.
- Keep holiday greeting cards from years past and use them to decorate. String together as garland, feature in frames, or gather together in a simple holiday card tree.
Tanglewood Park’s Festival of Lights
Now in its 27th season, Tanglewood’s Festival of Lights is a holiday tradition. The Park transforms every November into a winter wonderland that’s earned a reputation as one of the largest and most spectacular light shows in the Southeast. Today, the Festival of Lights route runs five miles and includes more than a million lights and over 100 displays. The event draws 250,000 visitors each year and ends with a Holiday Gift Village featuring marshmallow roasting by the fire and craft gift items for purchase.
Outdoor Holiday Lighting Tips from Tanglewood:
- For trees, white or clear lights provide brilliance and the appearance of a light coating of snow. For easier installation, drape the light strands over the upper branches and then run the lights vertically instead of around the tree’s circumference.
- To outline the exterior of your home, look online, or at home improvement stores, for eave, gutter, ridgeline, or shingle clips to hold strands of lights. These easy-to-use items greatly simplify installation and removal.
- Give “depth” to your yard by staggering lights in the woods, if you have them, and uplight yard trees with colored flood lights for maximum impact with minimum effort.
Enjoy these holiday experiences and much more during your next visit to Winston-Salem. Check out our holiday page to start planning your trip.