The annual Clifton Norwegian Country Christmas has ushered in the holiday season now for thousands of visitors since it began in 1992. Held annually the first weekend of December (Saturday), the event offers a weekend of history and fun for those wishing to fully experience “The Norwegian Capital of Texas.”
In 1854 a small group of Norwegian immigrants arrived in Bosque County along with Cleng Peerson, “The Father of Norwegian Immigration.” The land was free, and the Norwegians thought the beautiful land reminded them of their homeland. They settled northwest of Clifton in a large area today known as the Norse Historic District, where they farmed and built their homes of limestone. By 1900, the settlement had grown to include thousands of settlers and was the largest concentration of Norwegians living west of the Mississippi River. In 1997, Clifton was designated the “Norwegian Capital of Texas” by the state legislature. This unique heritage is kept alive today, in large part, through the annual Norwegian Country Christmas.
The event traditionally kicks off on Friday night with a lighted parade through downtown that is enjoyed by young and old alike. The Bosque Museum holds its annual Christmas Open House, where rooms are beautifully decorated to reflect the Norwegian and pioneer heritage of the community. The gift shop is stocked with Norwegian souvenirs of every variety. Visitors have also come to enjoy “The Arts of Christmas” held each Friday and Saturday at the Bosque Arts Center, a fine arts complex housed in the historic former Clifton Lutheran College. There, visitors can enjoy a myriad of seasonal exhibits, refreshments, and shop for unique homemade Christmas gifts ranging from candies to paintings, pottery, crafts and jewelry.
Visitors will want to include Heritage Village on the tour. Located in the Armory at Clifton City Park, Heritage Village is filled with dozens of vendor booths showcasing foods, arts and crafts. Artisan demonstrations normally include quilting, Norwegian painting, and wood carving. Those wishing to experience authentic Norwegian cuisine look no further that the Clifton Civic Center, where lunch is served by reservation from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Heritage Village Vendor Application
Tour guides and storytellers greet visitors at historic homes and churches to enlighten newcomers of the history of the early Scandinavians. Popular stops often include the 1850s-era Questad and Ringness homes. The Ringness house was the site of the first Lutheran Church services in the county and today is restored as headquarters for the Bosque County Chapter of the Norwegian Society of Texas. Popular churches on the tour include Our Saviors Lutheran Church at Norse, where Cleng Peerson is buried and his story is told. The “Old Rock Church,” built in 1886, looks just as it did a century ago and is one of the most popular landmarks for artists in the county. The tour also includes stops at beautiful, contemporary ranch homes in the Clifton area.
The evening typically ends back in Clifton, where visitors may enjoy dinner, drinks, carriage rides, and a visit from Santa. Because the tour itinerary changes annually, many visitors return again and again with new friends eager to experience the warmth and nostalgia of the holiday season with Clifton’s Norwegian Country Christmas.
Call the Clifton Chamber of Commerce to purchase your tickets. $12 for Tour, $12 for Lunch.
254-675-3720 or 1800-344-3720