A lot has changed in Buffalo Niagara over years, but year-end holiday celebrations have remained a constant and been passed down from generation to generation. Several of our top historical attractions and tour companies are recreating Christmas past with holiday tours transporting you to another era. Here are five of our favorites, broken down by the era each tour will be celebrating:
18th Century: Old Fort Niagara was an integral part of Western New York as the region changed hands from French to British and ultimately American control. The fort’s centuries-old buildings and grounds are decked out for its Castle by Candlelight Tour on Dec. 9, complete with a rifle salute and historically accurate characters.
19th Century: Early settlers built homes and communities across the Niagara frontier, including the countryside of the town of Amherst. Homes and businesses from that era now form the present-day Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village. On Dec. 9, take a lantern tour of the village and feast on food and drink from yesteryear at the village’s Taste of Christmas Past.
1901: President Theodore Roosevelt took the oath of office in Buffalo at the Wilcox Mansion. For the last 40 years, the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site has decorated the mansion as it would have appeared in that Victorian era. Take one of the regularly offered tours to see the home decked out for the holidays during the site’s Victorian Christmas.
1931: Buffalo’s boom of magnificent American architecture was in full swing. This is the year Frank Lloyd Wright completed the Graycliff Estate in Derby for Buffalo’s wealthy Martin family. See the estate during a Graycliff Holiday tour, offered on Saturdays in December and from Dec. 26-29, complete with a complementary glass of mulled cider. Or stop by the recently restored Martin House Complex to see the “Tree of Light” in the plaza adjacent to the house.
Timeless: Take a tour through several eras of Buffalo history by listening to the stories of some of the famous residents buried over the last 165 years in Forest Lawn Cemetery. For the next several weekends, Forest Lawn is bringing back its “It WAS a Wonderful Life” play at the cemetery chapel that glimpses into the Christmases past lived by some of the cemetery’s residents. Then take a self-guided walk around the cemetery to see where those residents are buried today.