MYSTIC — There is still time to embark on one of the Lantern Light Tours at Mystic Seaport, a popular event that has become a holiday tradition for many New Englanders over these last 38 years.
There are several tickets available for the Tuesday night tours and a few tickets left for the Saturday and Sunday tours … tours that could very well add a lighthearted fright to your Christmas revels.
This year’s tour is called “The Spirit of the Holiday: A Christmas Ghost Story,” and was written by local historian and author and Mystic Seaport staff member Rebecca Bayreuther Donohue.
However scary it might sound, “The Spirit of the Holiday: A Christmas Ghost Story” is said to “weave a heart-warming holiday story about uncovering the true meaning of the season for everyone,” according to organizers.
The 70-minute progressive play unfolds through five scenes of “historical hilarity” showcasing some unexpected holiday traditions with a little help from a Victorian spiritualist. Although the plot changes each year, some parts of the event are tradition. The tours are led by characters from 1876 who take tourgoers on carriage rides and walks through the historic buildings and ships of Mystic Seaport’s whaling village. At half a dozen stops along the way, tourgoers watch specially written scenes that bring to life a typical Christmas Eve in 1876 in Mystic.
The writing and production planning for the tours typically begins in the spring and can involve hundreds of people in the process.
“The magic of the night is that once visitors step from the entrance at the Visitor’s Information Center, they’re fully transported to a time over a century ago, and a village that’s bustling with 19th-century life,” according to a story that appeared in a December 2006 edition of the Sun. “Their tour guide will be a ‘real person’ from the time with his or her own personal tales to tell, and the Christmas festivities, decorations and costumes entirely evoke a distant era, with whale-oil lamps lighting the way.
Visitors for this year’s tour will join a group of 16 to tour the Museum’s seaport village, stopping at designated points to take in the next chapter of the story. Along the way, they will enjoy a gentlemen’s athletic contest, a spirited circle dance, a visit with old St. Nick, a horse-and-carriage ride, and a scene on board one of the museum’s historic vessels.
Back in the 2006 tour, called “Things Are Not Always as They Seem,” the story centered around young Edith Ward, an adopted orphan, and James Douglass, son of a wealthy business owner. All the while they wandered, tourgoers wondered if James and Edith “would be able to find happiness despite the differences in their stations, and if Edith actually had stolen something valuable from her stepfather, the redoubtable Captain Walker,” according to writer Marshall Williams, a Sun freelance writer who also played the role of “Mr. Marshall,” a reporter for the “Narragansett Weekly” (the precursor of the Westerly Sun), who was competing with Mr. Jennings, “a competing reporter from the Mystic Press,” who was played by Mike O’Farrell, the then-public relations director of the Seaport.
This year’s tours will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 19, and Friday and Saturday, Dec. 22-23. Tours begin at 5 p.m. and leave every 15 minutes.
Tickets can be purchased online at mysticseaport.org/lanternlighttours, or by calling 860-572-5331.
Tickets are $33 for adults ($27 for Mystic Seaport members) and $26 for children ages 5-17 ($20 for youth members). Lantern Light Tours are not recommended for children under the age of 4.