The French phrase "feu de joie" will roll off tongues and linger in memories after Old Fort Niagara's "Castle by Candlelight" (set for 6:30-8:15 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3 and 10), where visitors will welcome the holiday season in the spirit of the 1700s.
This seasonal fundraiser includes hands-on activities and interactive history demonstrations, including the "feu de joie" celebratory musket firing. The fort and its pathways will be illuminated by candlelight, and the French Castle will be festively decorated for the holidays by the Youngstown Garden Club. Members will use natural evergreen boughs, ribbons, flowers and ornaments.
" 'Castle by Candlelight' sets the scene for the holiday season," said Robert Emerson, executive director of the Old Fort Niagara Association. "It is one of my favorite events, because it is a spirited, noncommercial, holiday experience for our guests and staff. We look forward to welcoming the Christmas season with you."
Unique to this event are the "feu de joie" (firing of joy) musket and cannon firings at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. each night, recreating an 18th century military ceremony that celebrated great victory. In addition, visitors will meet historical characters - soldiers, Native Americans, fur traders, skilled artisans and camp followers - and perform hands-on activities such as writing with a quill pen, playing an 18th century game, and making crafts.
The festive atmosphere will include music of fifes and drums, Celtic favorites and tavern songs. Cooks will prepare and discuss traditional holiday fare, while period characters entertain visitors with tales of winter in the 18th century. A Recollect priest will recite the Christmas story in Latin in the fort's chapel.
Homemade soup, hot cocoa and cookies will be for sale onsite at the Trading Post (while supplies last), while musicians provide live holiday music for customers.
The fort's Museum Shop will also be open, offering a wide variety of books, apparel, historic reproductions and other unique gift items. The shop is also open daily from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Tickets will be on sale from 6:30-8:15 p.m. Admission is $10 per person, available at the door. Visitors are encouraged to dress for the weather, wear walking footwear and bring a flashlight.
The fort's next event will be the "Twelfth Night Ball" on Jan. 7, 2017. Tickets for this 18th-century English country dance will go on sale Dec. 1.
Old Fort Niagara (www.oldfortniagara.org) is located in Fort Niagara State Park in Youngstown.