2018 Special Events

Investigating TOBACCOLAND USA with Tom Whiteside

February 15 and 17, 1:30 pm

From the experimental to the promotional, tobacco history and film history go hand in hand. See tobacco on the big screen at Duke Homestead presented by Durham Cinematheque’s Tom Whiteside. Whiteside is a film collector and historian with a specialty in films about tobacco and Durham. He will screen the 1939 film "Tobaccoland USA," which portrays tobacco farming and manufacturing in Durham.

Whiteside will present an hour-long program, with time for questions afterwards. 

We request a $5 donation per attendee payable at the door. 

Start with lunch from Bull City Street Food! This local favorite food truck will be on site from 11:30-1:30 serving delicious street food from around the world. 

Born at Duke Homestead

March 31
Tour Times: 2 pm, 3:30 pm, 5 pm, 7 pm

We often talk about Duke Homestead as the birthplace of Washington Duke’s tobacco business. But, Duke Homestead was also the birthplace of three individuals. Join us for one of 4 special tours of the historic Duke home all about what birth, childhood, and motherhood meant in the 1850s.

Tickets:  $3 plus tax for ages 12 and up; ages 11 and under free of charge

mythbusting day: historic house myths 

May 19
Tour times: 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm

Ever heard of a closet tax? Were people really shorter back then? We are breaking down all those common myths and misconceptions about historic houses and life in the 19th century. After your interactive tour of the Duke house, you’ll be an expert on what’s not true!

Free of charge

Family Day: Farm Creatures

June 16, 10 am - 2 pm

Come by Duke Homestead and meet the farm animals! Young homesteaders will learn about the importance of animals and pollinators on farms, both historically and today. Join us for a day visiting with animals, interactive games, engaging crafts, imaginative face painting, and more!

Free Admission

Tootie's Mobile Kitchen Food Truck will be selling food throughout the event.
$2 a child for face painting provided by Paint Savvy


July 14, 10 am - 3 pm

Celebrate North Carolina food culture and history. This extremely tasty event includes BBQ and Pie contests. Guests can taste the BBQ and pick a People’s Choice winner of their own. Venture back in time at the Duke House where costumed interpreters will demonstrate historical cooking methods. 

See the event schedule and more information HERE.

Free of charge

Family Day: Historic Games

July 28, 10 am - 2 pm

Bring your family to Duke Homestead for a day of fun and hands-on learning. Life on a 19th century farm was pretty different from today, but some things don’t change – kids in the 1800s loved to play, too! Join us for a day of historic games, from parlor games to town ball, and make a toy of your own.

Free of charge

Vintage base ball at the dap

August 11, 4pm-8pm

Organized by the nonprofit friends of Duke Homestead State Historic Site (Duke Homestead Education and History Corporation), a team of vintage ballers will take on local sports media personalities, playing by vintage rules. We'll have game-inspired crafts and activities for kids, and the opportunity to step up to "home base" with Duke Homestead's Junior Interpreters. Don't forget to bring your appetite for food trucks, Bull Durham Beer Company brews, and old fashioned concessions. Hurrah!

$5 per ticket, kids 4 & under free
Tickets now on sale!

Mythbusting Day: Tobacco Myths

August 18
Tour times: 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm

What makes tobacco bad for you? Who invented iconic bright leaf tobacco? We’re tackling tobacco myths in a day of special guided tours at Duke Homestead. You’ll leave an expert about what’s true and not true about the plant that built Durham.

Free of charge


August 25, 10 am - 3 pm

Celebrate North Carolina farming culture and history at Duke Homestead with our Harvest and Hornworm Festival. Don't miss the looping contest and Hornworm Race! This event will feature live music, local arts and crafts vendors, hands on history, and the last tobacco auction in Durham!

Free of charge   

family Day: Harvest

September 8, 10 am - 2 pm

Get hands-on with history at Duke Homestead! Enjoy a morning out with your family that is full of fun and learning. This time we'll be talking about the harvest season on a farm. Activities will include fall crafts and a hornworm scavenger hunt!

Free of charge

**SOLD OUT**Tobacco Basket-making Workshop

September 15th, 29th, October 6th, 13th, 20th---10 am & 2 pm

Love the look of vintage tobacco baskets? Make your own chic version in this workshop with artist and maker Nancy Duffie. Fee includes instruction and all materials.

$25 per person, pre-registration required. You can purchase tickets HERE.


October 26, 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Phantasmagoria, noun: a bizarre or fantastic combination, collection or assemblage; a dreamlike state where real and imagined elements blur together; a magical event at Duke Homestead on October 26th.

Explore historical concepts of Spiritualism, awe, and wonder from the 19th century at Duke Homestead. You are invited to wander the property to see what wonders you can find. We won’t spoil the surprises, but we can tell you that this will be unlike any other Halloween experience you will have. Appropriate for all ages. (No experiences are designed to scare!) Participation will require walking and standing on uneven terrain.

Tickets are $10 plus tax per person in advance, $15 plus tax at the door. Tickets will be available soon.

The event will close at 9:00 pm, so we recommend arriving before 8:30 pm.    

Family Phantasmagoria

October 27, 10 am - 2 pm

Mischief, magic, spirits, and fortunes! Enjoy a kid-oriented daytime version of our popular Halloween Phantasmagoria event with crafts and hands-on activities. Learn all about Halloween history, and what Halloween would have been like for North Carolina kids in the 1870s.

Requested donation of $5 per car

Book Talk: "When tobacco was king" with author Paul Allen

November 2 at 3:00 pm

Paul Allen will be giving a presentation of his book, "When Tobacco Was King: A History of Tobacco in Canada and the United States--A Southerner's Global Journey," on November 2nd, at 3pm. (There is no fee, but donations are appreciated.)

Paul's family roots connect him to North Carolina where he still has family in Creedmoor and Granville County. This is Paul's first book and, as the son of the former President of the Canadian Leaf Tobacco Company, (a subsidiary of the Universal Leaf Tobacco Company headquartered in Richmond, Virginia), he shares his father's personal records, his own research and personal memories, and knowledge of the tobacco business, gained by growing up so close to the tobacco industry.

Paul Allen BA, BPE, M. Ed is a retired Ontario High School teacher who taught Physical Education, Health, History, Business, and Canadian Law courses at the secondary school level for 32 years.

You can purchase a signed copy of the book at this event for $15!

Photos with Santa

November 17, 10am-2pm

Come have your Christmas photo made with Santa with the backdrop of Duke Homestead! He'll be dressed out in his finest 19th century Santa outfit. Photos will be sent to you as a high-quality, print-ready digital file.

No reservation required. $10 per photo.

Christmas by Candlelight

December 7 and 14,6:45 pm - 9:15 pm 

Experience a historical North Carolina holiday season with Duke Homestead! Take an evening and join us as we celebrate Christmas by Candlelight. Costumed interpreters will lead you on a candlelit tour through the Historic Area festooned with period decorations as we celebrate Christmas in the 1870s.

$6 for adults; $3 for children (plus tax)

Become a vendor at our summer events! For more information on how to apply, click HERE.