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Thanksgiving in Williamsburg

What do you know about the history of Thanksgiving? The historical holiday often conjures images of steaming turkey, cornucopias of ripe fruits and vegetables just picked from the fall harvest, and a gathering of tribes and colonists, uniting together to break bread. We know this image to be Plymouth, Mass.’ romantic interpretation of the first Thanksgiving.

But did you know Jamestown is the real birthplace of this joyous holiday? Reclaiming the tradition as the original location of the first Thanksgiving, Jamestown’s reality of this “day of thanks” is a little less romantic and quite contrarily lacking in food and festiveness. In actuality, the settlers gave their thanks on this particular day in response to supply ships that at long last arrived with food after a torturous winter.

Jump forward some four hundred years and you’ll find that Jamestown—and Williamsburg, for that matter—has come a long way since the first Thanksgiving.

There isn’t a better time to be in Jamestown than for the festive Colonial Williamsburg celebrations, including the  Foods & Feasts of Colonial Williamsburg. Take a couple of steps back in time to learn how the settlers cooked and prepared their feasts. Beginning Thanksgiving Day, the three-day event couldn’t be timelier.

While you can prepare your own feast in the furnished kitchens of King’s Creek Plantation’s the Cottages, the Townes or the Estates accommodations, dining out this Thanksgiving in Williamsburg offers quite the experience.

Enjoy a number of choices, ranging from a traditional turkey dinner at the Jamestown Settlement Café, which is first-come, first-served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 24, to a colonial classic at the Williamsburg Lodge, requiring reservations for seating.

Looking for something a little different? Reserve your Thanksgiving dinner at the Café Provencal, offering a menu from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. inspired by the very first documented Thanksgiving dinner at Berkeley Plantation, located in present day Williamsburg, Va.

Lead into your Thanksgiving with a whole week of festive activities, starting with a round of mini golf at Pirates Cove, where they celebrate the holiday all week long, from Nov. 21-27. Before you sit down to enjoy your turkey dinner, join the Virginia Living Museum the day before in its annual turkey pardon outside the Turkey/Deer Habitat at 11 a.m., Nov. 23.

On the morning of Nov. 24, activate your metabolism early so you can savor the carbs and fats later by participating in the Big Turkey Burn 5K Turkey Trotin New Town Williamsburg. This annual run will benefit Williamsburg Meals on Wheels, providing meals to those in need on Thanksgiving and all year long.

And once the feast is over, don’t forget to jumpstart your Black Friday by shopping on the first day of Christmas Town at Busch Gardens!

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