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‘Holidays at Highfield’ creates a world of wonder

Holidays Highfield

Photo courtesy of Highfield Hall & Gardens

“Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.”

The opening lines to Dylan Thomas’ “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” sets the stage for his Victorian holiday tale, as he touches on the nostalgia of Christmas past. Just as Thomas creates a world of snowy imagery that triggers emotions of childhood wonder, “Holidays at Highfield” transports visitors to another time. While Thomas’ prose might not be the first work that comes to mind when thinking of the holidays, it is precisely the singularity of this piece, its flawless grasp on the nostalgic serenity of winter and the nuances of family life during the holidays, that makes it the inspiration for this year’s event. When visitors step into Highfield Hall & Gardens in Falmouth this holiday season, this is the world they will experience.

The ever-creative and inventive Highfield staff decided five years ago to take a step away from the traditional and create immersive experiences that capture the spirit of the holiday season in a way that is uniquely reflective of the passion at the core of this unique institution. Each of the five years have seen whimsical and awe-inspiring adaptations of the historic property, from an elegant estate to imaginative fantasies. “Our goal this year is to transform the house in a way that is unexpected of what you might normally think a Victorian house at Christmas would look like,” says Annie Dean, director of programs and exhibitions at Highfield. “We want visitors to walk in and say, ‘I’ve never seen anything like that before.’”

Built by the Beebe family in 1878, Highfield Hall has endured many different owners and served many different purposes—including the location of a hotel and a training site for theater students in the old family stables, repurposed today as Highfield Theatre. In 1962 the property was saved from development, but it would still be two decades before the home was restored to the impeccable state it’s in today.

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