Christmas At Rugby Offers Unique 1880 Victorian Experience For Families

  • Monday, November 13, 2023
  • Lindsay Ferrier

On the first two Saturdays of December, visitors to Historic Rugby can travel back in time to experience Christmas in 1880, the year the village was settled by a plucky group of British colonists.

During the annual Christmas at Rugby event on Dec. 2 and 9, visitors can wander through the village and listen to Victorian-era holiday carolers, savor hot drinks and cookies in Rugby’s festively decorated historic buildings, ride in a horse-drawn carriage, hear stories of holidays past from interpreters dressed in period costume, enjoy a visit from Father Christmas, tour private homes, and shop for handmade gifts from local artisans.

A food truck will also be on site, offering delicious hot food and drinks to revelers. Hours for the event are 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Eastern.

Historic Rugby’s annual Christmas Victorian Dinner will also take place during the Christmas at Rugby event in Hester Hall on Dec. 2 and 9, at 6:30 p.m. Eastern. Organizer JoNell Hester says it will be a holiday feast to remember. “Our guests will be served a five-course meal that starts off with champagne punch and is followed by bourbon brie bites, chopped green salad with craisins, blue cheese, and citrus vinaigrette dressing, ginger carrot soup, tender petite beef filet with mashed potatoes, our famous Harrow Road Cafe dinner rolls, and decadent chocolate cake,” she says.

Tickets to both Christmas at Rugby and the Victorian Christmas Dinner are available now at under the Events tab.

In addition to these ticketed events, beloved Knoxville singer-songwriter Mike McGill and friends will be playing a Christmas concert in Rugby’s Visitor Centre theater both December 2nd and 9th at 8pm Eastern. The concert is free to those who've attended Christmas at Rugby and/or the Victorian dinner. He’ll include holiday tunes from favorite artists like Merle Haggard, Chubby Checker, Elvis Presley, Tony Bennett, and more. “Mike McGill’s annual concerts in Rugby are a favorite with the locals around here,” says Historic Rugby board member Tony Woodall, “as well as fans who travel to our village just to see him perform. You don’t want to miss it.”

Finally, Christ Church Episcopal will present a seasonal worship service of Lessons & Carols with an emphasis on music on both Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. Eastern in Historic Rugby’s Christ Church. Tickets are not required to this event. It’s a great opportunity to attend a service in the church, which is virtually unchanged from when it was built in 1887.

Full Event Schedule:

  • Tours of the Village's historic buildings and select homes (11:00 AM - 3:00 PM EST)

  • Doug's Nearly Famous BBQ food truck (vegetarian options available) - 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM EST

  • Horse & Carriage Rides - 1:00 - 4:00 PM EST

  • Lessons & Carols at Christ Church Episcopal - 4:00 PM EST

  • Christmas Tree Lighting at the gazebo next to Kingston Lyle - 5:30 PM EST

  • Mike McGill in concert at the Rebecca Johnson Theatre (in the Visitor Centre) - 8:00 PM EST

Anyone with questions about Rugby’s upcoming Christmas activities may call 423-628-2441, Ext. 1, Wednesdays through Sundays before 5 pm Eastern.

Rugby was founded in 1880 as a British colony. It’s adjacent to the Big South Fork National Recreation Area and is a 2 1/2 hour drive from Nashville and a little over an hour away from Knoxville. Overnight lodging is available at
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