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December Activities Lure Travelers Quintessential, New England Holiday Experience

HARTFORD, CT, November 5, 2004 - As captured in classic films like "Christmas in Connecticut," the holiday season in Connecticut conjures New England images of sleigh rides, crackling fireplaces and families choosing their own Spruce Christmas tree. This holiday season, Connecticut offers a diverse range of events for families and friends seeking to capture the holiday spirit. A sampling of this year's holiday activities - located only a short drive away - includes:

  • 24th Annual Christmas Town Festival - Bethlehem, CT
    Travelers in search of an old-fashioned Christmas celebration can venture to the town of Bethlehem - in Connecticut - which features a tree lighting ceremony, arrival of Santa Claus, hayrides, musical performances, arts and crafts, and a candlelight procession and re-enactment of Mary and Joseph looking for shelter. In addition, visitors who mail their Christmas cards from the Bethlehem Post Office will get a special Christmas Cache on the envelopes and will receive a special edition pewter Bethlehem Christmas ornament.

    The Annual Christmas Town Festival will run December 3-4. On Saturday, December 3, the festival will run from 5:00 - 10:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 4 from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call (203) 266-5557.

  • North Pole Express on the Essex Steam Train - Essex, CT
    What a better way to enjoy the holiday lights than by boarding a steam train and sipping hot chocolate and eating cookies while listening to a reading of holiday stories. During the one-hour train ride, guests can also take pleasure in the spectacular light displays in the backyards of homes along the route. The ride ends with Santa Claus making an appearance on the train and bringing a gift for each child.

    The North Pole Express will run December 3-5, 10-12, 17-19 and 21-23. Departures are scheduled for 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Cost is $20 for adults, $15 for children under 12, and children under one get in free. Reservations are strongly recommended. For more information and to make reservations, call (860) 767-0103 or (800) 377-3987.

  • A Lighthouse Keeper's Christmas, Henry Whitfield State Museum - Guilford, CT
    Travelers can take a step back into time for a Victorian evening of Christmas cheer and experience a distinctive re-enactment of lighthouse keepers and their families by costumed interpreters as it was celebrated in the 1800s. Built in 1639 and recognized as Connecticut's oldest house, the Henry Whitfield House and State Museum will provide mulled cider and refreshments around an outdoor fire. In addition to the re-enactment, visitors can enjoy a self-guided tour of the home, which includes the current Bicentennial Beacon: Faulkner's Island Lighthouse, 1802-2002 exhibit, which has inspired this unique holiday celebration. In addition to the lighthouse exhibit, families can enjoy the Feast, Famine & Fables: The Real Story of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Winter in Puritan New England exhibit, which explores the history and myths surrounding the seasons.

    Date: Friday, December 3. Hours are 5:00 - 9:00 p.m., and admission is $3.50 for adults, $2.50 for seniors and students and $2.00 for children ages 6-17. For more information, call (203) 453-2457.

  • 27th Annual Lantern Light Tours, Mystic Seaport - Mystic, CT
    Families can immerse themselves in a tale of magic, merriment and the mystery of Christmas Eve as they search for the elusive, jolly old Saint Nick. Costumed characters will lead visitors through a festive holiday village, as it was in 1876, and invite them to kick-up their heels in a tavern dance and visit with the colorful locals and sailors in port for the holidays.

    Also, new this year, is Family Night on December 9. On this night, in addition to the tour, families can make their own ornaments and visit with St. Nick.

    Seventy-minute tours are available December 3-5, 9-12 and 16-20, leaving every 15 minutes beginning at 5:00 p.m., with the last tour departing at 9:15 p.m. (Due to the length, the tour is not recommended for children under the age of four). Tours are wheelchair accessible and, on December 5, at 5:30, 7:00 and 8:30 p.m., an interpreted sign language tour is available. Tickets are $25 for adults; $18 for kids (ages 4-18). For more information or to purchase tickets, call (888) 973-2767. For Friday and Saturday tours, reservations are strongly recommended.

  • Santa's Workshop - Manchester, CT
    Children won't have to travel to the North Pole to check out Santa's workshop this year. Families will actually have the opportunity to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus at his satellite workshop in Connecticut. In addition to spending time with Santa, children will have the opportunity to watch busy elves making the toys, enjoy refreshments in a log cabin with decorations, music and a roaring fire in a great stone fireplace.

    Admission is free, and the village will be opened at Wickham Park on December 11-12 and December 15-23 from 3:00 - 6:00 p.m. on Mon.-Fri and 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. on Sat.-Sun. For more information, call (860) 528-0856 or visit www.wickhampark.org.

  • 37th Annual Gingerbread Village and Christmas Bazaar - Middlebury, CT
    For visitors seeking a holiday festivity that brings to mind warm baked goods and crafts, the 37th Annual Gingerbread Village and Christmas Bazaar is good reason to venture up to the Northwest corner of Connecticut. The Village will consist of 50 to 60 gingerbread houses, along with other holiday scenes that are completely edible. Houses will be available for purchase and will be on view throughout the entire week.

    Admission is free, and the village will be opened at St. George's Church December 4-11. Please call for times at (203) 758-9557 or (203) 758-2165.

  • Holiday Tours, Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum - Wethersfield, CT
    Visitors can experience the holidays through the centuries with Holiday Tours at the Webb-Deans-Stevens Museum, which promotes understanding of colonial life in the lower Connecticut River Valley through the preservation and interpretation of the Joseph Webb, Silas Deane and Isaac Stevens homes. This year's holiday tours allow visitors to walk through the homes, each representing a distinct holiday tradition: Colonial Thanksgiving, Christmas in the 1840s and Christmas in 1925.

    The Holiday Tours will run Saturdays and Sundays December 1-31 from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $4 for children and kids under age 5 get in free. For more information, call (860) 529-0612.

For travelers staying overnight in Connecticut this holiday season, great getaway packages and values in Connecticut can be found through the Connecticut Commission of Culture and Tourism's web site at www.ctbound.org and by clicking onto Specials. With one simple click, a list appears highlighting some of the hottest deals around the state. All essential information - including a description of the package, dates of availability and contact information - is clearly outlined, plus some direct links are provided to each individual property and attraction mentioned in the package. For suggested itineraries already created by the state log onto www.ctbound.org and select from one of the 52 Getaways. For other holiday activities, travelers can also click onto the Events section of the web site.

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Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism
Jennifer Aniskovich
Executive Director
Tel: (860) 256-2800
E-mail: janiskovich@ctarts.org


Yankee Ingenuity

"So I'm a Yankee...Why I could make anything a body wanted...and if there wasn't any quick new-fangled way to make a thing, I could invent one."

Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court

  1. Locks and clocks were big business in Connecticut in the Industrial Revolution and you can see the largest collections of both on this getaway. The Lock Museum of America, I-84 Exit 38 in Terryville has 22,000 items tracing the history of the American lock industry.
  2. American production clocks fill the rooms of the American Clock & Watch Museum, off Rte. 6 in Bristol.
  3. Then head south to Cheshire and visit

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