An Old-Fashioned Christmas

For a couple of evenings each December, Thomasville, Georgia, looks back to another time. Just after sundown in this charming village, Broad Street empties of modern vehicles and gives way to handsomely dressed people delicately stepping out onto the historic brick avenue.

Many display the splendid finery--silks and satins, long skirts and waistcoats, top hats and spats, canes and parasols--of bygone days. Others, comfortable in jeans and T-shirts, simply take in the glorious sight. Everyone is here to celebrate the town's annual Victorian Christmas.

Thomasville spruces up its downtown buildings with a warmth and friendliness as genuine as South Georgia's balmy December breezes. Between the 1890s structures, vendor tables along the street teem with treats, while roaming singers ring the air with melodies. Costumed storytellers enchant audiences with holiday tales, and small ensembles softly play favorite Christmas carols.

More than 100 shops and restaurants glow in an inviting welcome. At Kevin's, shoppers crowd the aisles stuffed with outdoors sporting gear. Fine fashions lure ladies into Hicks Clothing. The crammed corners of Josephine's Consignment Shop offer plenty of costume jewelry, stylish clothes, and vintage gloves and hats--all fitting for this festive night.

Revelers stop in at Buon Appetito, a fun kitchen shop, for steaming cups of coffee. Other locals relish the chili dogs served from the window at The Billiard Academy.

The sounds of "Silent Night" and "Joy to the World" blend with the merry jingle of horses as they pull carriages full of riders around the historic district. And even though the temperature is mild, passengers cozily pull blankets over their legs.

Choirs from area churches perform on a small stage in front of the city's Welcome Center, a perfect celebration for the holiday season.

Victorian Christmas: December 12-13. Hours: 6-10 p.m. For more information: Contact Thomasville Main Street at (229) 227-7020, 1-800-704-2350, or www.downtownthomasville.com.

Thomasville's Grandest Lodging
One of the South's most remarkable plantations welcomes you for a special treat. Tucked into the shadows of massive Burford hollies that shine with bright red berries and drip with Spanish moss, Melhana, The Grand Plantation has been restored to its original late-1800s magnificence. You'll find an enchanting sunken garden, a fabulous heated indoor pool, fine dining, and private cottages and guestrooms; (229) 226-2290, 1-888-920-3030, or www.melhana.com. Rates start at $285 and include breakfast.

When all you need is a clean place to lay your head, select from one of Thomasville's affordable chain motels. We like the Hampton Inn on State 122; (229) 227-0040.