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The 35th Annual Festival of Houses in Charleston, South Carolina, one of the nation's oldest tours, will begin on Friday the 18th of March, and continue through April the 12th. By special arrangement with the owners, approximately 90 properties and historic sites will be open on a series of 9 different walking tours.

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Festival, the tours will include special sunset cruises of the historic port and harbor. Noted historians will accompany each cruise to provide commentary.

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The walking tours, four offered in the afternoon and five in the evening, each concentrate on a different area of the historic district and stress the distinctive character of the area. The major architectural styles from early Georgian to late Victorian are represented on the tours.

Tickets should be purchased well in advance, since tours are often sold out. For a brochure, write Festival of Houses, 51 Meeting St., Charleston, South Carolina 29401, and for more ticket information call (803) 722-3405.

Amtrak's first ''Weekend Ski Train'' into the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts is being operated during the 1982 ski season. An 84-seat car reserved just for skiers is added every Friday, leaving Boston at 4:35 p.m., arriving in Pittsfield at 8:15 p.m. Eastbound on Sunday, it leaves Pittsfield at 11:20 a.m., arriving Boston at 3:10 p.m.

The weekend package is priced from $90 per person, double occupancy, plus rail fare. It includes two nights at the Berkshire Hilton Inn, breakfast, a $20 credit toward food and beverages, a lift ticket, and transfer to some of the ski areas.

For a brochure, write Amtrak Distribution Center, P.O. Box 311, Addison, IL 60606.

Erica Wilson, who is internationally known as a master needle worker, will conduct four-day workshops at Sea Pines Plantation in Hilton Head, South Carolina, February 17 to 21. Participants will study a new way of making needlepoint rugs combining crewel and needlepoint stitches. Ms. Wilson will also teach students how to make three-dimensional flowers that can be used as a mirror top or centerpiece for a table. In addition, a counted cross stitch kit will be given to each participant.

Participants in the annual needle workshop will stay at the 200-room, oceanfront Hilton Head Inn. Facilities of Sea Pines Plantation such as 72 tennis courts, golf courses, bicycle trails and shops and restaurants are available to guests.

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The cost of the workshop is $465 per person (double occupancy) and $565 (single occupancy). The cost for a non-participating spouse is $270. For reservations and further information call 803-785-3333, ext. 588.

A new service known as Car-Go-Rail USA transports cars from New York and Washington, D.C. to Florida. For residents in the New York area, the cost of transporting a vehicle from the company's depot in Port Newark, NJ to Miami/Fort Lauderdale is $396. To Orlando, Tampa or St. Petersburg, the cost is $378. For an additional charge, Trans Auto will arrange to have a car picked up at a customer's house for delivery to Port Newark.

For residents in the Washington area, the cost of transporting a car from the depot in Alexandria, VA to Orlando or Tampa is $238. To Miami, it's $263. House to depot arrangements can also be arranged for an additional charge.

Persons living in the New York City area can contact the Trans Auto office at (212) 307-1080. Florida residents can call toll free at (800) 432-9989.

Trans Auto Co., the company offering the service, is a subsidiary of Trans Canada Auto Train Transport Limited of Vancouver.

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