This storied North Carolina town holds tight to its history all year long, but it comes alive with enchanting traditions as the festive season arrives.
Situated on North Carolina’s serene inland coast, scenic Edenton—the state’s second-oldest town and first colonial capital—is a sight to see any time of year. But this 17th-century gem truly shines come December, when its 5,000 proud residents dress their acclaimed architecture in holiday grandeur, creating the Old-World charm of Christmases past.
Edenton is often described as “the South’s prettiest town,” and much of its unique beauty comes from an abundance of buildings, including homes and churches, dating from the 18th century to the early 20th century. The Edenton Historic District features varied architectural styles and, at Christmastime, these storied structures anchor tree-lined streets aglow with flickering lights and jolly adornments.
The city will kick off the celebration on December 1 in the heart of the historic district with its annual Christmas Extravaganza and Flotilla, complete with caroling, the lighting of the town tree, and a boat parade that showcases holiday spirit across the lovely Edenton Bay. To experience more of the extensive historic district, take a guided trolley tour that includes an overview of notable sites; afterward, explore those that catch your eye en route.
In addition to these public sites, tour participants will gain access to some of the town’s most stunning private homes, imparting inspiration aplenty with dazzling interiors festooned for the holidays. Along the way, Edenton’s famous Southern hospitality is put into practice with delectable treats at many stops, from homemade eggnog and wassail cider to cookies, cakes, and savories.
Despite its rich, deep roots, Edenton also boasts a vibrant and contemporary community with a welcoming spirit that only grows this time of year. The three-block business district offers a distinctive shopping experience as well as a culinary scene with local flair. Throughout this season, the area takes on a decidedly merry feel as storefronts, restaurants, and accommodations sparkle with delightful ornamentation, and the hum of Christmas music can be heard on every corner. But perhaps the most magical part of Edenton at Christmastime is the way its residents open their doors to share the town’s enchanted holiday cheer with all who come to find it.
Vacationing during the holidays calls for cozy accommodations that evoke the feel of a true home-away-from-home, and the welcoming Inner Banks Inn boasts just that, with unique furnishings and festive charm. Tucked amid nearly three acres in the Edenton Historic District, its four different lodging options range from a Victorian mansion to a coastal cottage. This bed-and-breakfast provides guests with a delectable three-course meal each morning. Visitors also won’t want to miss out on an evening repast or Sunday Jazz Brunch at the in-house restaurant, The Table, featuring innovative, locally sourced fare with an upscale ambience in a converted carriage house.
Edenton’s quaint boutiques offer distinctive presents for loved ones, as well as last-minute seasonal décor for your own home. At The Polka-Dot Palm, you’ll find chic jewelry, coastal décor, eclectic gifts, and monograms aplenty. Stroll through Summerhouse, a family-owned shop filled with French country antiques, housewares, home accents, art, and more—with full interior design services as a bonus.
The Garden of Readin’ holds an expansive collection of used books, CDs, and DVDs, plus a tearoom where you can recharge after scouring the antiquarian and rare book sections. Or, try the beloved Edenton Coffee House for a hot drink, a quick meal, or a sweet treat along with calming acoustic music as well as local art and jewelry to peruse.
At the Shoppes on Broad, there’s something for everyone on your Christmas list, from clothing, jewelry, and décor to gifts and special treasures for children. After a day of shopping, indulge in classic American cuisine with a local spin at 309 Bistro & Spirits, or try Waterman’s Grill for seafood, steaks, pasta, and sandwiches in a vibrant atmosphere. Save time to explore the history on which this well-established town stands.
A variety of tours show off its preserved structures, such as the 18th-century Cupola House. On the tours, hear impassioned stories from our country’s beginnings, like the tale behind the Edenton Teapot, which commemorates the first political protest instigated by a group of North Carolina women in 1774.
For more on Edenton’s 36th Annual Christmas Candlelight Tour, see “Holiday Homes” in Southern Lady’s November/December 2017 issue.
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