Twinkling lights, the sound of caroling, a parade on horseback and beautifully decorated houses in a storybook setting – all that and more means Christmas in Clifton. And the public’s invited to join in the fun on Saturday, Dec. 7.
The festivities also include a candlelight tour of homes, musical entertainment in two churches, an art show and the lighting of the town Christmas tree – complete with hot chocolate and carols. And Homes Tour Chairman Tom McNamara says it’ll be a special time to visit the town.
"We have five really interesting homes that are trimmed for the holidays and are in the Historic District," he said. "Most of these houses are old, but the Milnes’ is the newest and is really unique because of its arts-and-crafts style."
Tickets are available in town at A Flower Blooms in Clifton, T&K Treasures, Hydrangea and All that Glitters. They’re also at Picket Fence in Burke and Banner's Hallmark in Centreville. Cost is $20, adults; $5, children under 12, through Dec. 6. The day of the event, they’re $25 and $10, respectively, at the booth on Main Street.
The holiday fun begins at 2 p.m., with a colorful parade of horses and riders decorated in Christmas finery. Sponsored by the Clifton Horse Society, it travels up Main Street, goes through town and along Chapel Street to a field where participants and spectators gather for cookies, caroling and the awarding of prizes.
Visitors may then shop in Clifton’s stores and enjoy the town’s restaurants prior to the homes tour. "All the shops will be open late," said McNamara. "And this year, there are some neat, new stores in town, so people can get a head start on their Christmas shopping."
Food, Shopping, Art, Tree Lighting
The new businesses are Cupcaked and Hydrangea on Chapel Road and Trattoria Villagio (formerly Heart in Hand) on Main Street. Cupcaked features several varieties of cupcakes, Hydrangea is a gift shop and Trattoria Villagio is an upscale Italian restaurant and market. Also open will be the Clifton Café, Main Street Pub (in the Clifton Store) and Trummer’s on Main.
From 4-9 p.m., the Art Guild of Clifton will hold its second annual Holiday Art Show and Sale in the Clifton Town Meeting Hall, next to the fire station, at 12641 Chapel Road. Original artwork on display will include oil paintings, giclées, prints, watercolors, pastels, greeting cards, jewelry, collages, pottery, murals, and faux and decorative painting.
The candlelight homes tour runs from 4-7 p.m. Five houses and two churches will welcome visitors. Then at 7:30 p.m. will be the annual, Christmas tree lighting in Ayre Square, at the corner of Main Street and Chapel Road.
"I think the tree lighting will be extra special this year," said McNamara. "I’m really excited about it. We bought 100, flameless, hand-held candles for all the attendees, and I think it’s going to be a really cool look. People will turn on their candles as the tree is lit. We’ll also have hot chocolate and marshmallows to roast for S’mores, and the carolers from Chantilly High will sing."
The tour includes the following:
The Noonan Home
Home to City of Fairfax Schools Superintendent Peter Noonan, this house on Chapel Road was built in 1900. Called the "Fletcher House," it was the former home of Clifton’s longtime postmistress, Anna Sprouse.
Noonan is only the second owner of this historic house and transformed it into a functional home for a family, while keeping its original integrity intact. It’s now been trimmed for the holidays with his children’s handmade ornaments, as well as glowing luminarias reflecting Noonan’s ties to New Mexico.
The Milne House
At just over a year old, the Dell Avenue home of Melissa and Graham Milne is the youngest house in Clifton. But the property has a colorful past – it was rumored to have been the location of moonshine stills in the 1920s.
Local architect, Royce Jarrendt, worked closely with the homeowners to maintain the charm of old Clifton while incorporating a modern flavor. The open, living design of the interior provides the stage for an eclectic mix of industrial, French and antique décor.
This house is at the top of a steep hill, so a shuttle in front of the Clifton Store will take visitors to and from it.
The Netschert Home
Donna and Jamie Netschert’s home on Chestnut Street is the oldest home on this year’s tour. It was constructed in 1886 by James Cross, a wagon builder, wheelwright, blacksmith, undertaker and one of the first members of the Clifton Town Council.
Visitors will be able to see Jamie’s collection of his spectacular sunset photographs, plus Donna’s baby grand piano in the front parlor. Christmas music will be played on it during the tour to put guests in the holiday spirit.
The Robertson House
Built around 1902, the "Kivett House" on Main Street is home to Trisha and Jonathan Robertson. The original owner, R.M.Kivett, was a shopkeeper, real-estate and insurance salesman, town booster and newspaper correspondent. And from 1904-08, he was even the town mayor.
This three-story house was constructed in the carpenter-gothic, Victorian style. It began as a Sears kit that was substantially modified as it was built. The interior is bright and casual, reflecting the Robertson family.
The Keen Home
Designed by local architect Jim Hricko in 1985, the Chapel Street residence of Ginny and Vernon Keen has many architectural details found throughout the town of Clifton.
The homeowners have decorated their house’s open-floor, 20th-century floor plan with a mix of family heirlooms, antiques and Civil War mementos. Their talents in music and interior design add warmth to this holiday showplace.
Clifton Baptist Church
The Clifton Baptist Church, at 7152 Main St., was admitted into the Potomac Baptist Association in August 1875. Services were first held in the home of George W. Tillet and other area men who served with Mosby’s Rangers during the Civil War. The first church building was constructed in 1877 and was used for both worship and community functions.
The cornerstone of the present building was laid Nov. 24, 1910, with construction completed in 1912. With its gabled roof, steeple and Gothic arched windows, it’s one of the most beautiful buildings in historic Clifton. During the homes tour, the Chantilly High Carolers will be performing in the church every half hour.
Clifton Presbyterian Church
The Clifton Presbyterian Church, at 12748 Richardson Lane, has served the community as a place of worship and community life since its founding in 1870 by families of soldiers who fought in this area during the Civil War and settled here afterward.
In the early 1900s, the church acquired the manse next door, later adding an annex for classroom, office and fellowship space in the 1950s. Its recently renovated sanctuary won a Fairfax County Architectural Design award for creative use of historic space. During the homes tour, the Osbourn Park High Madrigal Singers will perform inside the church every half hour.