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VOL. 37 | NO. 49 | Friday, December 06, 2013

Franklin serves up Dickens of a Christmas

By Tim Ghianni

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FRANKLIN – If the holiday spirits this year are anything like the ghosts of Christmases past, visitors might want to add a day onto their visit to Nashville and take the 20-mile drive down to Franklin. Once you get off the interstate, don’t be fooled by the strip malls and such, just keep traveling west until Highway 96 leads you into the beautiful, historic downtown.

Or, if you’re not in a huge hurry, simply take Eighth Avenue South (U.S. 31) out of downtown Nashville and just keep on going after it becomes Franklin Road and carries you over the river and through the woods, or at least through the southern part of Nashville to Brentwood and finally to the city of Franklin.

It’s not the way you get there that matters. It’s what waits. Once you reach the 15 blocks of Main Street that have been labeled a National Register Historic District, keep your eyes out for the convenient parking off the side streets.

The best time in the holiday season to visit is the second weekend in December, this year Dec. 14-15, when “Dickens of a Christmas” brings Dickens’ novel characters to life while vendors and street performers light up the district with historic charm.

Yep, look for Tiny Tim (the “God bless us every one” kid, not the late and lamented “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” guy). There’s also Scrooge as well as his ghostly/ghastly pals and more to interact with while you make your way down the street into the unique, gift-crammed stores of this lovely downtown area.

According to the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County, the two-day street festival “is expected to attract some 50,000 visitors over the weekend.”

Some of the activities highlighted by the foundation include horse-drawn carriage rides around Public Square, a holiday arts and crafts bazaar on Public Square, dancers and street musicians (violinists, hand-bell choirs, harpists, carolers and even a water harmonica player, all add to the entertaining street scene, according to the foundation.)

Food available at the festival includes period stuff like fish ‘n’ chips, turkey legs, kettle corn, roasted pork and even sugar plums, but all you need to do is step into any of the fine restaurants along the street if your taste is more for a burger, a meat-and-three combination or more elegant fare.

There’s even the Town Sing at 4:30 p.m. Sunday starting at Public Square. (Check historicfranklin.com for details on the activities).

If you are local or your visit doesn’t coincide with what annually is one Dickens of a good time, the trek down to Franklin still is worthwhile, simply because there are 70 or so stores and restaurants on this strip.

And music abounds, with many acoustic singer-songwriter types entertaining inside the restaurants.

Also, before you go down there, check out what’s happening at the Franklin Theatre, the lovingly restored movie house on Main.

Movies like “Miracle on 34th Street” and “Home Alone” are on the schedule during December.

And the concerts at the theater should provide a great place to escape the shopping frenzy. Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver offer up their Christmas concert Friday (Dec. 6) to get things going. Another highlight sure to charm will be vibrant, full-voiced rising country star Sarah Darling on Dec. 13, when she hosts her friends for a Christmas concert. (Check franklintheatre.com for details.)

And if that’s not enough, Franklin is filled with Civil War sites, including the Carnton Plantation, the Carter House and the Lotz House plus parts of the once blood-soaked Battle of Franklin hallowed ground.

For other things Franklin, including a Civil War driving map, contact the Williamson County Visitors Center at (615) 591-8514 or try visitfranklin.com.