Holidays at Empire Mine Celebrates Days of Yore, Ore – and Family Fun |

Holidays at Empire Mine Celebrates Days of Yore, Ore – and Family Fun

“It’s just like walking through an old-fashioned Christmas card!” That’s what visitors often exclaim when they see the lavish decorations and costumes.

For many, Thanksgiving weekend raises the key question: Where should we take our family and guests?

“Holidays at Empire Mine has offered an ideal answer for over two decades” said event chair Bob Jennings. “Last year we welcomed around 1,000 guests each day, as children, parents and grandparents flocked to enjoy the fun.”

Empire Cottage, designed by famed architect Willis Polk in the late 1800s, will be decked out with stunning, traditional decorations. Docents in lavish costumes will portray the Bourns, the Starrs and other historic characters who influenced Northern California’s gold mine history.

Live, festive music will be performed by Celtic Joy on Friday and by Heather MacAdam on Saturday. Traditional Christmas cookies and hot-spiced cider will be served both days in the early 1900s’ kitchen.

A short walk from the Cottage is the old Clubhouse, where the prosperous Bourn family did much of their entertaining. Here’s where Santa and Mrs. Claus will listen attentively to all kinds of gift wishes, that can range from iPads to ponies and planes. Coffee, tea and light snacks will be available for purchase outside the Clubhouse.

The Mineyard will be buzzing with activity, especially in the popular Blacksmith Shop.

“With their forges blazing and their hammers clanging, our Empire Mine smithies like to tell fascinating tales of Empire’s good-old days — and how they helped keep the mine safe, efficient and prosperous,” said Jennings.

“Nearby, on Friday, local duo Ken White and Gianni Rome will be playing a variety of homespun music.

“On Saturday, we’ll experience a cherished tradition, as the Cornish Choir performs seasonal songs. The Union Hill Carolers (all grammar-school age) will be adding to the Christmas spirit too, along with lively music by bluegrass band, Fire in the Kitchen. Visitors will also get to sample freshly-roasted chestnuts,” Jennings added.

“Many of the smithies’ hand-crafted items, such as courting candles and dinner bells, are sold in our Gift Shop.”

The Gift Shop is filled with unusual gift ideas for every budget, including a selection of heritage roses propagated at Empire Mine.

Speaking of gifts, children will enjoy the potting bench, where they can be creative — and make little, living gifts others will treasure.

Holidays at Empire Mine is a rare combination of gold, grit and fun for all ages. Weather permitting, visitors may enjoy a rare opportunity to bring lunches, blankets and chairs, and picnic on the magnificent grounds. Everyone’s encouraged to bring their cameras and their curiosity.

The event will take place on Friday, Nov. 27, and Saturday, Nov. 28, at Empire Mine State Historic Park, 10791 E. Empire St., Grass Valley.

Special activities are planned from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. For further details, phone the Visitors Center, (530) 273-8522, or visit

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