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During the Christmas season, historic Williamsburg's buildings are draped with garlands, while wreaths decorated with cones, berries, and fruit ornament doorways. For a fortnight Williamsburg takes on a holiday glow and there is a range of special events and activities. There are candlelight concerts, colonial sports, the beating of drums and playing of fifes, plantation visits, dinner-theater evenings, caroling, fireworks, and feasting in the colonial manner.

The Christmas season begins on Thursday, Dec. 16, with the Grand Illumination of the City, when candles in every window in the Historic Area are lighted to the sound of musketry, cannon fire, and music. The season comes to a close on New Year's Day.

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An exhibit of toys and playthings of another era opens at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center on Saturday, Dec. 11, continuing through Jan. 2.

There are how-to workshops for tree decorations and seasonal arrangements for fruit and greens. The Williamsburg Choral Society's traditional performance of Handel's ''Messiah'' is Dec. 14 and 15 and is open to the public.

For more information, contact Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Historic Area Programs and Events, Information Center, PO Box C, Williamsburg, Va. 23187.

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