BEDMINSTER, NJ - The 15th annual Colonial Christmas celebration at the historic Jacobus Vanderveer House and Museum opened this weekend with the annual tree lighting Friday night.

Colonial Christmas continues next weekend, Dec. 2 and 3, at the museum, at Bedminster's River Road Park at 3055 River Road, off Route 206. The public is invited to join in the celebration from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Admission is $10 at the door; members and children 12 and younger are free.

A fundraising cocktail reception will be held Friday, Dec. 1, from 6 to 8 p.m. Holiday libations served by Colonial barkeeps, sumptuous seafood and hors d’oeuvres will be Metropolitan Seafood, and musical entertainment by The Practitioners of Musick will be featured, along with a special veterans appreciation presentation. For ticket information, phone 908-396-6053, or purchase tickets online

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The line-up of activities at during Colonial Christmas includes tours of the house and museum, scheduled performances by students in local schools, including music from Bedminster School Hand Bells, set for 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2; and vocals by the Bernards High School Madrigals, with that performance scheduled for 3 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 3. 

Santa's annual visit is scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. on Dec. 3. The Colonial Cafe will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each weekend day, and many other activities and presentations, including re-enactors and a decorating workshop by Laura Clare, are scheduled throughout.

The full lineup of events is on the 15th annual Colonial Christmas guide, posted online.

Each year, Colonial Christmas has grown at the historic site and museum, restored by volunteers from throughout the Somerset Hills, and transformed into an educational center about the key role that the location played during the Revolutionary War.

The Jacobus Vanderveer House, which had been deteriorating before its restoration under the direction of The Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House, served as headquarters of General Henry Knox during the winter of 1778-79 and the only surviving building associated with the Pluckemin Artillery Cantonment, America’s first military academy.  

The house is a national and New Jersey historic site, and has been furnished to interpret 18th century Dutch-Colonial life as lived by the Vanderveer and Knox families. The story of the Pluckemin Cantonment’s role in helping the Continental Army to defeat the British during the American Revolution, which unfolded as research and on-site archeology took place over the years, is highlighted at the museum.