Old Fort Niagara will greet the holiday season with a bang as the historic site presents its annual "Castle by Candlelight" program on Saturdays, Dec. 10 and 17. The highlight of the evening will be the firing of a grand feu de joie ("firing of joy") by the assembled fort garrison. The feu de joie is a traditional military ceremony involving running fire by muskets and artillery to mark a special occasion or victory.
Inside the castle, lit entirely by candles, historic characters will regale visitors with tales of Christmas past from the 18th and 19th centuries. Demonstrations of 18th and early 19th century trades and period music will be performed. In the castle's boulangerie (bakery), cooks will demonstrate the preparation of a traditional holiday feast, including wild game.
The award-winning Youngstown Garden Club will decorate the castle for the holidays. The group was named by the National Garden Clubs Inc. as a first-place winner in the category of "Decoration of Historic Building" for the club's holiday decorating of the French Castle.
To add to the festivities, candle lanterns will illuminate the fort grounds.
Programs will take place from 7 through 8:30 p.m., and the grand feu de joie will be performed at 7:30 and 8:15 p.m.
Tickets to the "Castle by Candlelight" are $8 per person, and will be available at the door. Guests can arrive at the Fort Niagara Visitor Center at any time between 7 and 8:30 p.m., and are asked to dress for the weather, wear walking footwear, and bring a flashlight.