Looking for a silent night in the middle of holiday season chaos? Consider booking a twilight tour of Boscobel, a stunning Federal-era mansion perched along the banks of the Hudson River in Putnam County, New York.
Boscobel, a Federal-era mansion in Garrison, New York, is open during the holiday season for twilight tours. Visitors pass through the Dykman family home while a string ensemble performs. A Boscobel twilight tour is a peaceful respite from the holiday hullabaloo.
History of Boscobel
The mansion was saved from the wrecking ball in the 1950’s. Originally sited in Montrose, New York, the building was deemed expendable as a federal Veteran’s Administration health campus grew around it. Fortunately, a group of preservationists including Mrs. Lila Acheson Wallace, co-founder of Reader’s Digest, stepped up and purchased the house. They also bought a 16-acre tract of land in Garrison, moved Boscobel and restored it to its former glory.
Boscobel Twilight Tours
When you arrive at Boscobel, check in for your tour at the gift shop. You’ll be guided along a brick path, through the gardens. Plan a return trip in the summer to see them in bloom. And to check out the annual Shakespeare festival. The tour starts in the foyer, at the base of a very stately staircase. If you’re expecting over the top Christmas decorations, you’ll be disappointed. Boscobel is decorated to match its era. The lighting is dim, to suggest a candlelit evening in the early 1800’s.
Historically Correct Christmas Decorations
Decorations are natural: evergreen boughs, citrus pomades and a tabletop Charlie Brown-style tree. Christmas trees as we know them didn’t become popular until Prince Albert brought the tradition to England from Germany in the 1840’s. Guides escort you through the home and talk about the family history and the period furnishings. Unfortunately, it’s hard to appreciate them because of the lighting but it definitely makes you want to return.
Music, Crafts and More
You get to ascend the grand staircase and I pretended to sweep my ballgown up as I climbed. A string ensemble played in the upstairs parlor; the music echoes throughout the house, setting an elegant mood. https://youtu.be/cmuMXXuGTtE When our tour group returned downstairs, we went down to the kitchen level for cookies and hot cider. Before we took a sip, our guide told us the origins of wassail – you may have heard of the classic British carol, “Here We Come A Wassailing.” During the Christmas season, you might be handed a drink with a friendly “was hail.” The proper response is “drink hail.” It’s a toast to good health. While we enjoyed our snacks, we made our own pomanders out of clementines and whole cloves. Using a toothpick, you poke holes in the fruit, randomly or in a pattern. Then you insert the cloves. In olden days they didn’t have Febreeze, so this was their method of freshening their homes.
When to Visit Boscobel for a Twilight Tour
Winter isn’t the ideal time to explore the grounds at Boscobel. However, if this is your first or only visit, you won’t want to miss the view of the Hudson River. So book one of the evening’s earlier tours and take a stroll down to the Belvedere overlook.