Holiday Celebrations across Little Rock!

November 24th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair

HolidaysInThePark2014Logo_tstFirst Security Amphitheater in Downtown Little Rock is really going all out with this year’s holiday celebration and will be transformed into a winter wonderland of lights this holiday season. Visitors are invited to enjoy a ten minute light show that has been specially  choreographed to music.  This amazing exhibit will be on display throughout the holiday season. What else will be offered in the downtown area?  There will be a meet & greet with Santa Claus, and an official lighting ceremony on November 29th. All ages are welcome to the River Market Pavilions to enjoy holiday cookies, beverages, crafts, games and much more!

Also in Little Rock for the Holidays is…The Velveteen Rabbit at The Arkansas Arts Center’s Children’s Theatre, The 7th Annual Holiday Celebration of Lights at The Promenade at Chenal, Hayride and Campfire at Pinnacle Mountain State Park, and more!

And don’t forget one of our favorite Little Rock holiday traditions, the Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade! The Annual Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade, sponsored by the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau (LRCVB), will return to Little Rock Saturday, December 6, 2014. Serving as this year’s Grand Marshal is Miss Arkansas 2014, Ashton Campbell.big jingle jubilee

Beginning at Second and Broadway, the Holiday parade will start at 3:00 p.m. and travel south on Broadway, turn west onto Capitol Avenue and end at the State Capitol. The lighhd-christmas2ting and fireworks display will follow at dark or approximately 6 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

Campbell will join Santa, Mrs. Claus, Rudy the Reindeer and many of their friends for this year’s highly anticipated holiday parade. Bring your camera and kids to watch decorated floats, marching bands, dancing troops and more make their way through the streets of downtown Little Rock.

Make sure to book your weekend at The Empress of Little Rock and attend one or all of these fun events!  Call us at 501-374-7966 to reserve your room today!

Bernice Garden Tree Lighting and SoMa Holiday Open House

November 18th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair

bernice garden open houseThe Holidays are quickly approaching and lighting displays will soon be popping up all over the Little Rock Metro area. Over the next few weeks we will discuss several of these displays and the celebrations surrounding them, but we would be remiss if we did not start the Holiday Celebrations Series with our own SoMa district display. Thursday, December 4th will be a very special night in our very special neighborhood. Area merchants and The Bernice Gardens welcome you to celebrate The Bernice Garden Tree Lighting and SoMa Holiday Open House. From 5-8 p.m. Santa will host an evening of music, treats, shopping and more! The fabulous Bernice Garden Christmas Tree will be illuminated at 5:30 to kick off the holiday cheer!

The Empress is the perfect spot to begin and end your SoMa holiday celebration. Lounge in front of a warm fire in our parlors or your own cozy suite, and then slip into your scarves and gloves for a short walk to Bernice Gardens. When you return to the mansion, enjoy our Victorian Holiday Wonderland as you peruse all of your new purchases. The softly playing Christmas music will help you maintain your Christmas spirit long after the celebration ends! Call today to book your suite in the nearest lodging to the party, The Empress of Little Rock.

Tenth Anniversary Celebration for the Clinton Library…

November 13th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair

http://www.littlerockdecadeofprogress.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Clinton10thInfographic.jpgThe Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau (LRCVB) is announcing plans for a 10-day citywide celebration with many local partners taking place over November 9-18, 2014 in honor of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library’s tenth anniversary.

It’s been nearly ten years since the opening of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library on November 18, 2004; a true landmark that has drawn millions of visitors to Little Rock, and has spurred unprecedented cultural, economic and social progress.

The opening of the Clinton Center (Clinton Presidential Library, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and the Clinton Presidential Park) has forever changed the landscape of Little Rock, and was undoubtedly the catalyst that has propelled more than $2.5 billion in economic development to the central Arkansas area.

“The 2004 opening of the Clinton Presidential Center put Little Rock on the map as a true visitor destination,” said LRCVB President & CEO, Gretchen Hall. “Tourists from around the world have come to Little Rock specifically to see the Library, and have chosen to extend their stays to experience our wonderful city,” she added.

The Empress is proud to be a part of this wonderful, fast-growing city and has grown with the city this past decade.  “When the Presidential Center was built, we had five room,” says Sharon Welch-Blair, owner of the Empress of Little Rock, “but we have felt the need to grow with the city and now offer an additional four spa-suites in addition to those five original rooms.”  A part of the thriving SOMA district, which has also taken advantage of the economic boom in Little Rock, The Empress urges guests to come enjoy the history of Little Rock as well as the progress. “The Empress occupies the historic Hornibrook Mansion,” says Welch-Blair, “which is considered one of the finest examples of Gothic Queen-Ann Architecture in the region.  We are also surrounded by the Quapaw Quarter Historic District, an area of lovely homes and buildings that have maintained their historic identity while the area has adapted to the new era.”

The video below is a timeline of the past decade and the changes that Little Rock has seen during this time.  The city continues to grow and thrive and The Empress hopes to be a part of the future as well as the past!

New Shopping Package delights guests!

November 10th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair

victorian shoppingIt is the time of year for holiday parties, lavish decorations, and…shopping…!!! Lots and lots of shopping!  Brown paper packages tied up with string!!!  I think you get the point…

Join us from November 1st thru November 24th for a two night  shopping getaway with your sister, your Mom,  or your best friend, for an old fashioned Christmas Shopping Getaway-Miracle on 21st Street Shopping Package!  Time to shop ’til you drop, and then join us back at The Empress for Hot Apple Cider (spiked if you like) and a massage to loosen up those muscles and rejuvenate those tired aching feet.  Then enjoy a wonderful dinner at one of our many outstanding restaurants (let us make your reservations for you) Ciao, Brave New Restaurant, Ristorante’ Capeo, Bruno’s, Cache, they’re all great.

Join us for breakfast each morning and be pampered with Pumpkin Puff Pancakes with Hot Cider Sauce, or Ham Bundles with Hollandaise and then shop all over again, OR relax by the fire, sip on hot cocoa, eat peanut brittle, and enjoy the relaxation while an elf wraps your packages!  The miracle will be that you ever shopped any other way!

  • Two nights in the room of your choice
  • Directions to all the best shopping in Little Rock
  • Two Gourmet Breakfasts to start the each day off right
  • one hour massage for each of you (pkgs. quoted for 2 people)
  • Pre-Christmas goodies!! (we make a whale of an old fashioned eggnog!!)
  • Holiday Gift Wrapping (gifts must be boxed; wrapping done by good natured elves who need plenty to time to do it justice)
Prices start at $276 per person (tax and gratuity extra)

 

Please call for prices and reservations!! 501-374-7966

Empress appears in Victorian Homes Magazine!

November 8th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Empress appears in Victorian Homes MagazineWe are so excited to be selected for a feature in the Special Christmas Issue of Victorian Homes Magazine!!! The 8 page article perfectly describes The Empress as a Victorian treasure from the 19th century.  It tells about the grand history of the mansion, from the original owner’s death shortly after completion in 1888, to becoming Arkansas’s first women’s college, all the way up to present day as an Award winning Bed & Breakfast.

“We’re delighted that the editors choose to feature The Empress of Little Rock, with all of her Christmas flair.  From the smell of pine cones wafting through the foyer into the sitting parlors and guest suites, to fireplace mantles graciously decorated and an electric train that circles the glittering, heavily ornamented Victorian tree, we hope to give our guests a true Victorian Christmas,” says owner Sharon Welch-Blair.  “We’re especially delighted they chose to highlight our Downton Abbey New Year’s Eve Wine Dinner Dance, which has been an area favorite for New Year’s Eve for years.  The small intimate nature of this exclusive dinner party which is a throw back to the 19th century, is designed to celebrate a simpler but more elegant way of connecting with the good things of life we’re having trouble discovering in today’s hectic lifestyle.
This year we will decorate at the beginning of December, just in time to be showcased in this year’s Christmas in the Quarter, a tour of homes conducted around the historic Quapaw Quarter of Little Rock.  We hope everyone can come experience the yards of live garland, festive Christmas music, and several Christmas trees from different eras that delight our guests every year!  Join us for our daily tours at 11:30 a.m. & 3:00 p.m. during the holiday season and see what Victorian Homes Magazine was so excited to feature, a true old-fashioned Christmas in an amazing Victorian mansion. The cost is $10.00 per person.  

Please call (501) 374-7966 for additional details, or visit us at www.TheEmpress.com  

Cornbread Festival in SOMA

November 7th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair

cornbread festivalOne of Little Rock’s favorite festivals, The Arkansas Cornbread festival will happen on Saturday, November 8 in SOMA!  This festival has quickly become a regional favorite and will even appear in an upcoming edition of Food Network Magazine.

Since its inception in 2011, the Arkansas Cornbread Festival has exploded in popularity, far exceeding the modest expectations of founder and South Main Street advocate Anita Davis, who hoped to “bring people in our community together for good food, music and conversation.” Originally hoping for “800 to 1,000 people, we were absolutely thrilled that thousands of people from all over the city and state came to see what makes South Main Street thrive,” Davis says. Some might ask, “Why cornbread, and why South Main?” Davis has easy explanations. “Cornbread is an integral part of our southern heritage, and we live in a community steeped in history and tradition. It just seems to be a good fit for a festival in Little Rock.” As for the South Main (SoMa) location, “one of the reasons the festival is important is to bring people to our area who have not seen the changes in our part of the city.”cb fest 2

Check out the festival website here, and be sure to book your suite at The Empress, the closest lodging to the Arkansas Cornbread Festival and SOMA!

www.TheEmpress.com

Pumpkin Puff Pancakes, an Autumn Treat…

October 21st, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair

pumpkin puff pancakesThe Empress of Little Rock has long been known for the amazing breakfasts that are served daily in the grand formal dining room.  Bob Blair and Sharon Welch-Blair have created a menu influenced by both their travels and their many years as owners of The Empress.  Each day at The Empress promises a new and even more delicious entree for you to eat by candlelight.  Some of our favorites include Ham and Asparagus Bundles, Grand Marnier French Toast and warm Toasted Cheese Strata.  But one of our most popular dishes is only served in the fall and winter, and guests await impatiently for Pumpkin Puff Pancake season to roll back around.  The Empress is now serving this delectable dish, but we are including the recipe here, so that all of our friends can enjoy them at home as well.

Good luck on your version of our well-known autumn favorite, but if you want to get them directly from the source, book a night at The Empress now!

PUMPKIN PANCAKES USING BISQUICK
2 Cups Bisquick
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (check color of mixture to make sure this is enough can go up to ¾ cup)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup milk
2 slightly beaten egg yolks
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons oil
4 egg whites beaten till they form peaks
Combine milk, pumpkin, egg yolks, & oil to Bisquick- stirring just to blend.

Gently fold beaten egg whites into batter. Check thickness – if necessary add more milk

HOT CIDER SYRUP:
3/4 CUP APPLE CIDER
1/2 CUP BROWN SUGAR
1/2 CUP LIGHT CORN SYRUP
1/2 TEASPOON LEMON JUICE
1/8 TEASPOON GROUND CINNAMON
1/8 TEASPOON NUTMEG
Combine ingredients and heat 20 minutes to reduce

 

Fall Leaf Peeping Time…

October 15th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair

When is the best timfall leaves 2e to visit Arkansas? Some say that it is the summer, with our many lakes and rivers available for swimming and boating. Others say that spring is the best time to visit Arkansas, when the tulips and daffodils bloom in huge colorful fields In my opinion, autumn in Arkansas is one of the best times to appreciate the beauty and serenity of the Natural State. Arkansans and visitors both await the changing of leaves and the cooling temperatures for their fall leaf peeping journey. The Natural State is the perfect place to see Mother Nature’s canvas in all of its glory. Some say our colors rival the New England States.

So when is the best time to see the leaves change in Arkansas? Sadly, there is no way for us to know before the actual event begins, but we do have a fun cheat fall leaves 3for your vacation planning…weekly fall color reports from those who live in the area and watch the leaves change. The first report appeared on www.Arkansas.com on September 28. Each week new reports will be posted on Thursday afternoon after 4 p.m. and will be noted with a fall foliage icon. If you want to get out and see the beautiful routes where the reds, golds and oranges of autumn foliage line the roads, the web site will also have suggested scenic routes for viewing the foliage and attractions along the way.

What is the best way to enjoy the season in Little Rock?  By coming to The Empress and taking advantage of our Leaf Peeping Fall Foliage Package!

Better Way to Stay…Adult Way to Stay

October 11th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair

bwts

Better Way to Stay supports bed and breakfasts across the nation.

Last month we introduced you to the Better Way to Stay website and their “Hotel Package” video.  We enjoy the fun that it had showing the differences between hotels and bed and breakfasts and we hope you did too.  What other videos does the website have to offer?  How about an amusing take on why an “Adult” way to stay might be better.  Many bed and breakfasts are adult only (the Empress will allow children over 6, but very rarely have any children present) and this differs greatly from a hotel, where the crying infant next door might keep you up all night.

Why else is adult-only sometimes preferable?  How about a wine hour and champagne chilling in your room and a quiet soak in one of our jacuzzi tubs.  We at the Empress love our own children, but know that sometimes it is wonderful to just get away…and we hope to offer you the very best way to stay.

To book your next adult getaway at the Empress, call us at 501-374-7966 or visit our accommodations page.

 

 

“Tales of The Crypt” comes to Mount Holly Cemetery

October 8th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair

tales of the crypt

Tales of The Crypt in Mount Holly Cemetery

Held the second Tuesday of October, Tales of the Crypt is an annual Mount Holly Event during which drama students from Parkview Arts & Science Magnet High School are each given a person buried in the cemetery to research. They then prepare short monologues or dialogues, complete with period costumes, to be performed in front of the researched person’s grave.  Award-winning local costumer Debi Manire will once again provide the wonderful historical characters’ costumes.  Audiences are led through the cemetery from grave to grave by guides with candles. Al

The 20th Annual “Tales of the Crypt” will be held  at Mount Holly Cemetery, 1200 South Broadway, Little Rock, Arkansas on Tuesday, October 14, 2014, from 5:30 pm until 8:30 pm.  Admission is free to the public, however donations to Mount Holly Cemetery are appreciated and aid in the maintenance of the cemetery.

Don’t forget to find the grave of James Hornibrook, the original owner of The Empress of Little Rock, and view his well-known death mask.  Then come stay at The Empress and view his portrait in our Hornibrook Room!

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