Martinsburg, WV, the northern gateway to the Shenandoah Valley, is a fine example of how creative small towns can be in putting on holiday celebrations. Lacking some of the bells and whistles of big-city holiday cheer, Martinsburg instead showcases its heritage with historical Christmas reenactments.
Samantha Cronk of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County CVB, told us, “For example, the Adam Stephen House hosts its annual Colonial Christmas celebration starting December 2. This year, volunteers will portray Christmas during 1787, with actors showcasing typical holiday scenes inside the decorated house such as baking, children’s games, men playing cards, and women playing musical instruments. The house will be decorated, with additional activities like bagpipes, pianoforte and string music, plus refreshments of course. The event is free to the public and will take place December 2, 3, 9, and 10 from 4-8 p.m.”
The General Adam Stephen House is located at 309 East John Street in Martinsburg and can be reached by phone at 304-267-4434.
“The Belle Boyd House and Museum will host a reenactment of Christmas traditions during the Civil War era,” Cronk continued. “The house will be decorated according to the time period and guests will be able to meet ‘Belle Boyd’ herself. Additionally, the Berkeley County Historical Society will give a presentation on December 9 and 16 on history and Christmas traditions in Martinsburg during the Civil War, with the time of the presentations to be determined. The event is free and will occur on December 9, 10, 16 and 17, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. “
The Belle Boyd House is located at 126 E Race Street; 304-264-8801.
On December 31st, you can ring in the new year Martinsburg-style with the first annual New Year’s Eve Apple Drop in the heart of downtown Martinsburg. This free family event allows guests to enjoy the charm of a small town celebration, culminating in the countdown descent of a large apple, and still be able to attend any of the local evening parties or televised ball drop. The event features free apples, doughnuts, apple cider, live music and family activities leading up to the big apple drop at 6 p.m. The event is scheduled for 4-6:30 p.m.
Lest we forget more conventional festivities, Martinsburg will kick off the holiday season on December 1st and 2nd with the Hometown Christmas Tree Lighting Friday) and Parade (Saturday).
Also of note is the Historic Apollo Civic Theater, which will perform “A Christmas Carol” on December 7, 8, 10, 15, 16 and 17.
And even at this time of year, Cronk said interest in outdoor recreation remains strong.
“As part of a beautiful outdoors state,” Cronk said, “hunting is a popular activity in Berkeley County. Western Berkeley County provides entry to Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area, the state’s largest wildlife area at 23,000 acres. This section of the county is especially popular with hunters looking for deer, turkeys, squirrels, black bear and other forest game species. An extensive trail system provides hunters with seasonal access. Primitive campgrounds are available year round along the 250-acre lake.
“And if you’re brave enough to brace the colder weather,” Cronk continued, “amazing views await you on Berkeley County’s popular hiking trails. From sweeping nature views to interesting rock formations and more, Berkeley County is a hiker’s dream. Popular hiking spots include the Tuscarora Trail, a 250 mile long spur trail of the Appalachian Trail; Beacon Trail, which offers a short walk to a fire tower that allows hikers a view for miles; and Devil’s Nose, one of the most beautiful short hikes offered in the county with a cascading little waterfall that takes hikers to a scenic overview.”
Looking for more to do in Martinsburg? Visit the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Photo of Colonial Christmas Re-creation at the Adam Stephen House, courtesy Martinsburg-Berkeley County County CVB