Candlelight Tour at Fort McHenry National Monument Offers Rare Nighttime Look at the Fort

Living History program at Fort McHenry

NPS photo.

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore is best-known as the birthplace of The Star-Spangled Banner, but the old fort has seen a lot of other history in the years since its stone walls were completed in 1803. A special candlelight tour on December 5 will offer a rare chance to visit the fort after dark and see how Yuletide celebrations have changed during the past 200 years.

The park is offering its fourth annual Yuletide Candlelight tours on December 5, 2009, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Park rangers will lead visitors through the fort, and on a walk through time. The tour will present a glimpse at Yuletide celebrations and life during the War of 1812, Civil War, World War I and World War II.

Today, the Yuletide season is seen by many as a time of getting together with family, being at home, parties, dinners, gift-giving and religious observances. Throughout Fort McHenry’s history, however, many spent the holidays performing guard duty, writing letters home, guarding prisoners or recuperating from battlefield wounds.

During the course of each tour, visitors will encounter soldiers, sailors and civilians from various eras of the fort’s history. Listen to them tell their story and discover how they observed the holiday season at Fort McHenry over the last 200 years.

One of the time periods featured with live music will be World War II:

Join a World War II Swing Dance! Join the dancers of Choreographie Antique as they perform dances popular at Fort McHenry when it was a U.S. Coast Guard base in World War II. With dancers dressed in period attire and each dance meticulously researched, you will feel like you stepped back in time. The Big Band Swing Dance takes place at intervals from 7:15 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.

The free tours will last about 45 minutes and offer one of few times during the year the fort is open after dark. The park website includes driving directions and other information to help you plan a visit to Fort McHenry.