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Kid's art activities, hot chocolate--what's not to love about tonight's Telfair Tree lighting?

Perhaps last Friday you caught the lighting of Savannah’s official holiday tree downtown on Bull and Broughton. Or maybe you attended Plant Riverside’s recent seasonal kick-off party and tree lighting extravaganza. But if you missed those, don’t despair. This week you have one more chance to celebrate and get into the season of giving.

Thursday, November 30, Telfair Academy, 121 Barnard Street, Savannah, pays tribute to the holidays with their very first tree lighting. This family-friendly event is free to attend and gets underway at 5:30 p.m. with holiday music, children’s art activities, hot chocolate and cookies prepared by the Jepson Center’s signature eatery, Wildflower Café.

Telfair Museums, which include the Jepson Center, Owens-Thomas House and Telfair Academy, is getting back into the community-wide holiday tree lighting party. After more than a decade, the cultural center resumed their tradition in 2021, and in both prior years, the tree was showcased at the Jepson Center. What makes this year’s lighting particularly special is it’s the first time it’s being hosted at the Academy.

“We see this event as a great way for families to get involved with the museum,” intoned executive director, Benjamin Simons. “Our three buildings work together as a campus of art, history and culture, and the tree lighting is an exciting way to interact with the community during this special season.”

The tree, an 18 ft. artificial spruce takes a team of six people about a week to assemble, decorate and string up lights. When finished, the white and gold-themed evergreen will stand in the center of the academy’s rotunda, decorated in part with specially commissioned Delftware ornaments fashioned after the Telfair Museums’ three main buildings.

“The ornaments are available in the new gift shop,” said Simons. “They are traditional blue and white Dutch pottery, and you can only buy them at the museum. There’s also a Bird Girl ornament and several others iconic of Savannah culture. Sincerest thanks to operations director, William Forrester. He and his team are responsible for the hard work required getting the tree in place.”

Telfair Museums has been active in finding innovative ways for more people in the community to experience their campus. In summer 2022, the organization partnered with Live Oak Public Libraries, in which anyone with a library card can go to a branch, check out a pass and visit the museums free of cost. And in July, the Jepson Center introduced its interactive Children’s Art Museum with an aim not only to appeal to the city’s thousands of annual visitors but to provide meaningful educational experiences for local students.

As for Telfair Academy’s inaugural holiday tree lighting, Simons is especially looking forward to seeing people’s excitement for the season.

“I really enjoy seeing young people and their families getting excited about the cookies and hot chocolate, being in that spirit of community and togetherness,” reflected Simons. “It really is an opportunity for people to come together, enjoy the start of the season and maybe even get a jump on holiday shopping. The tree lighting will be a happy and most enjoyable time.”

If you go:

What: Telfair Museums Tree Lighting at Telfair Academy

Where: Telfair Academy, 121 Barnard Street, Savannah

When: Thursday, November 30, 5:30 p.m.

Cost: Free to attend


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