TAMPA (WFLA) – Those Christmases long, long ago. Take a trip back in time at the Henry B. Plant Museum on the campus of University of Tampa for the annual Victorian Stroll.
Every year, the museum goes through a Christmas transformation with antique ornaments and themed rooms. The staff and volunteers start planning the decorations in June, and it takes three weeks to decorate.
“We have 100 trees, 40,000 lights, carolers every evening,” said Lindsay Huban, Henry B. Plant Museum Relations Manager. “Victorians liked their trees kind of messy. They weren’t perfect. They weren’t department store Christmas trees. You have funny looping garland. You might have hand-made ornaments,” she continued.
Some of the new themes this year include a tree that pays homage to John Philip Sousa, the famous composer and conductor who was once a guest at the Tampa Bay Hotel, and one for Sherlock Holmes. The staff researches Victorian-era Christmas traditions and includes them in the decorations.
“There’s a Victorian tradition called the spider web game where you would hide people’s presents in a room, and you would tie a string around the present and run the string all around the room, wrap it around banisters and sculptures and things and then hand the person the string. They have to follow it and untangle it to find their present,” explains Huban. In one of the museum rooms, you will find the colored string to replicate this game.
Visitors can also enjoy cider and cookies on the veranda outside the museum as well as live music every evening from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
The Henry B. Plant Museum is located at 401 W. Kennedy Boulevard in downtown Tampa. The Victorian Stroll runs every day from Dec. 1 to Dec. 23rd from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. It costs $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, $9 for kids. (Discount Days on December 4, 5, 11, 12).