National Public Relations
M. Silver Associates, Inc.
CT Public Relations
(203) 624-4151 x30
WINTER HOLIDAYS IN CONNECTICUT BRING OUT THE BEST IN
COMMUNITIES LARGE AND SMALL
Holiday Strolls, Sparkling Lights, 'Not-To-Miss'
Performances and Family Fun Highlight a Calendar of Special Events for a Joyous
HARTFORD --- November 22, 2005 -- Spectacular parades, inspiring music,
brilliant ballet, hilarious theater, presents for zoo animals, and carols for
frogs: Connecticut celebrates the winter holidays in every way imaginable. For
those who forego the more familiar celebrations in favor of the Winter Solstice
on Dec. 21, there are even activities, including evening owl walks, at
Connecticut Audubon Centers in Glastonbury and Pomfret.
Whatever a visitor's preference or tradition - from holiday strolls and open
house tours to fun for families, and, of course, Santa Claus - a weekend getaway
to Connecticut between now and the New Year promises to combine all the happiest
elements of holiday festivities.
Here is a sampling of what's happening in Connecticut during the holidays:
First things first: the Jones Family Farm in Shelton (203-929-8425) is one of
many farms in the state offering "cut-your-own" Christmas trees
through Dec. 24. In addition to 200 acres to roam in search of the perfect tree,
the farm offers wreaths, hot cider and a gift shop filled with ornaments and
crafts. Visit www.CTvisit.com for other farms and garden centers offering
Parades, Strolls, and Lights
What better way to kick off the season than with a rousing, spectacular
parade? Wallingford leaps into the holidays with a Frosty the Snowman Parade and
Tree Lighting Ceremony Dec. 2-3. Norwich will welcome Santa and thousands of
holiday enthusiasts to the Annual Winterfest Parade (860-892-1813) the following
day, Dec. 4.
Mystic Seaport (888-973-2767) launches the season with Lantern Light Tours on
Dec. 1, providing visitors with a glimpse of Christmas Past as it was celebrated
in a coastal New England village. Silver-haired St. Nicholas will be the guest
of honor. A Celebration of Lights & Songs by the Sea in New London on Dec. 2
features the town's annual tree lighting ceremony, music, holiday decorating
contests, artist open studios, ice sculpture demonstrations and visits from Mr.
and Mrs. Claus (860-444-2489).
The first-ever New Canaan Holiday Stroll takes place Dec. 2-4. The event
includes outdoor concerts, a Family Night complete with Santa and his elves,
Rudolph, hot cider and roasting chestnuts, gingerbread house making, a drawing
for gift certificates from local merchants and a Victorian Tea presented by the
New Canaan Historical Society (203-966-1776). Historic Downtown Mystic's Holiday
Stroll, Dec. 6 (860-572-9578), features the charming and historic main street of
Mystic as the setting for carolers, hot cider and cookies as well as shopping
Christmas in Coventry Village in Coventry will take place Dec. 4, with wagon
rides, a visit from Santa, a carol sing, traveling musicians, a town crier,
activities for children and more.
The Festival of Lighthouses at The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk
(203-852-0700), is highlighted by illuminated lighthouses made from everything
from sea glass to gingerbread and designed by local artists and artisans, plus
the IMAX Theater showing of the animated "Santa vs. the Snowman." The
Festival runs through the holiday season.
A number of towns in Connecticut can't bear to limit their celebrations to a
single weekend. An example is New Haven's Lighthouse Park and the Fantasy of
Lights (203-777-2000) is open through Dec. 31.
A Victorian Holiday is the featured attraction at Gillette Castle State Park
(860-526-2336) on weekends through Dec.18. This celebration features
entertainment, bonfires and period holiday splendor to welcome visitors into the
world of William Gillette, the 19th century actor famous for his portrayal of
"An Adirondack Christmas" at the Henry Whitfield State Museum in
Guilford, Dec. 2, coincides with the town's tree lighting celebration and is
inspired by the museum's current exhibit, "Adirondack Charm to Abandoned
Farm: the Story of Rollwood Farm." In addition to a bonfire, popcorn,
S'mores, hot chocolate and a crafts area, visitors will also enjoy "Feast,
Famine & Fables: The Real Story of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Winter in
Puritan New England." The Henry Whitfield State Museum is in Connecticut's
oldest house and New England's oldest stone dwelling, built in 1639. Call
The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (860-278-2670) is celebrating with the
32nd Annual Festival of Trees & Traditions, Dec. 3-11. The exhibition
includes displays for Hanukah, Kwanzaa and Three Kings Day as well as
traditional and avant-garde Christmas trees and other seasonal decorations.
The Bowen's Celebration of Christmas 1887 at Roseland Cottage in Woodstock
takes place on Dec. 4 and recreates some of the appealing aspects of a family
Christmas celebration in the late 19th century. The evening includes guided
tours through the decorated first floor of this national historic landmark and
is held in conjunction with the Woodstock Winter Festival (860-928-4074). The
Winter Festival features a Craft Fair, tree and gingerbread house competitions,
a community carol sing and tree lighting, hayrides on the Common, children's
games and much more.
"An American Collector's Christmas" is the showcase exhibition at
the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington (860-677-4787) through Jan. 2. The show
features rare objects seen only during the holidays as well as
The Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme (860-434-5542) is celebrating The
Magic of Christmas through Jan. 8 with an exhibit of fantasy trees, including
the perennial favorite, "Miss Florence's Artist Tree," decorated by 65
hand-painted wooden palettes created by distinguished artists.
The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford (860-522-9258) presents
"Reforming Christmas Traditions: Culture & Change" through Jan. 9,
with rarely seen items from the museum's collection illuminating 19th century
traditions of the holiday.
What would the winter holidays be without historic house tours and open
houses? These opportunities to step back into history, or into the lives of the
homes' inhabitants, including Connecticut's governor, are abundant. They
include: the Governor's Georgian Revival Style Home in Hartford, Dec. 2-4
(860-566-4840); the Thomas Griswold House Museum in Guilford, Dec. 2-4
(203-453-3176); the Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden in Bethlehem, Dec. 2-3
(203-266-7596); the Hicks-Stearns Museum in Tolland, Dec. 3-4 (860-875-7552);
the Butler-McCook House in Hartford, through Jan. 1 (860-522-1806) and the
Stevens-Frisbie House in Cromwell, Dec. 11-12 (860-635-0501).
In addition to single home tours, the season also offers the chance to wander
through entire neighborhoods or villages of historic homes each decorated for
the season. The Holiday House Tour in Essex (860-443-2896) and in Suffield
(860-668-0601) are both scheduled for Dec. 3 while many of Hartford's
(860-247-0998) most beautiful homes are open on Dec. 4. On Dec. 10, historic and
new homes in the beautiful Litchfield Hills area will open their doors
Music, Theater and Dance
Music, of course, fills the air throughout the holidays in Connecticut. For
those with a taste for the classical, there is "Messiah" at the
Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford (860-244-2999) Dec. 3-4;
"Mosaic Christmas" by Chorale Connecticut in Meriden (203-238-2148)
Dec. 4; the Candlelight Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols in the style of
the famous Christmas Eve service at King's College at Cambridge, at South Church
in New Britain (860-223-7555) on Dec. 18; and "Christmas in Paris," a
concert of seasonal offerings by French composers and folk songs at the First
Presbyterian Church in New Haven (203-966-0002) Dec. 19.
More contemporary concerts include the legendary Boston Pops Esplanade
Holiday Concert at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport on Dec. 10
(203-345-2400) and the New Haven Symphony Pops Holiday Concert at the Quick
Center for the Arts in Fairfield, Dec. 16 (203-254-4019). And who could pass up
"Frog Carols," the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center in Mystic's
(860-536-1216) tribute to the season featuring fanciful songs about amphibians
set to traditional holiday tunes?
"The Nutcracker," the perennial favorite for kids of all ages, will
be presented by the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts at the Warner Theatre in
Torrington (Dec. 3 and 4), the Palace Theatre in Waterbury (Dec. 10), and the
Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts (860-987-5900) in Hartford (Dec. 17 and
18). Contact the theaters in order to buy tickets. "The Nutcracker"
with Russia's St. Petersburg Classic Ballet Theatre will be presented at the
Hyde Cultural Center in Woodstock, Dec.10 (860-928-2946) and from Dec. 2-4, the
classic will take the stage at the Shubert Theater in New Haven, a production of
the New Haven Ballet and New Haven Symphony (203-782-9038). And that's not all:
for a lively twist on the Sugar Plum Fairy and her troops, there's the Duke
Ellington Jazz Nutcracker, presented at St. Joseph College in West Hartford,
Dec. 2-3, by the Hartford Conservatory. Created in the 1960's, this version
combines the legendary jazz interpretations of Ellington and modern ballet.
This year, there will be no lack of another seasonal necessity, Charles
Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." It will be presented at the Garde Arts
Center in New London on Dec. 9. With a Currier and Ives setting, traditional
carols and lively dancing, the Nebraska Theatre Caravan has produced the show
since 1979. Hartford Stage (860-527-5151) will also mount a music-filled, funny
production starring Scrooge and company through Dec. 24.
Another theatrical choice is "Christmas in Candyland," presented by
the Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre in Bridgeport ((203-576-1636) through
Dec. 18. This lavish musical tells the story of two children who help save King
Kandy and his castle from the devious Lord Licorice.
For Kids of Any Age
Everyone knows that the winter holidays are, essentially, about kids - and
the child in the rest of us. Connecticut has more than its share of enticing
activities in December for families. These include:
The Children's Museum of Southeastern Connecticut in Niantic (860-691-1111)
offers several holiday-themed events, starting with Holidays Around the World on
Dec. 9, which uses crafts, stories and geography to illuminate the similarities
among winter celebrations across world cultures. Holiday Tween Night takes place
on Dec. 10 and features music, pizza and entertaining education specifically for
"tweens." And, 12 Days of Cheer is the museum's festival of lights
with 12 days of special activities including a celebration of Christmas,
Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, the Winter Solstice and a Countdown to Noon New
Year's Eve party.
St. George's Church in Middlebury offers the 38th Annual Gingerbread Village
and Christmas Bazaar (203-758-9557), Dec. 3-10, with up to 60 gingerbread
houses, people, animals and scenes that are all edible. And, in Stonington,
Scandinavian holiday traditions are celebrated Dec. 4 in a St. Nicholas Day
Celebration, featuring crafts and games, storytelling and refreshments for
children (860-535-2476). The Annual Santa's Workshop at Wickham Park in
Manchester (860-528-0856) takes place Dec. 10-11 and 15-23 and features visits
with Mr. and Mrs. Claus and the elves in a log cabin.
Trains and the winter holidays have always been synonymous in many parts of
the country, and Connecticut is no exception. Among the train-related holiday
activities for kids are the Hands On Train Display at the Railroad Station in
New Milford, through December (860-354-6080); the Danbury Railway Museum's
Santa's Special Train Rides weekends through Dec. 18 (203-778-8337); vintage
trolley rides in East Haven at the Line Trolley Museum's Santa on the Trolley
weekends through Dec. 18 (203-467-6927), and Winterfest at the Connecticut
Trolley Museum in East Windsor (860-6540), featuring electric sleighs and closed
heated trolley rides through a tunnel of more than 6,000 holiday lights.
Finally, since the holidays are also about giving to others, how about a
present for a favorite wild animal? Generous shoppers this year might consider
giving a gift to the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport (203-394-6575). Choose from the
Zoo's wish list, make a donation, give gift certificates or sponsor an
educational program. Everything from bird or butterfly houses to a Zoomobile is
needed. The Zoo is also sponsoring a series of Crafty ZooKids workshops, Dec. 3,
10 and 17 where kids ages 7-12 can make gifts while learning about animals at
Professor Beardsley's Research Station.
For a complete schedule of holiday events and further information about the
52 Getaways to Connecticut, restaurants, resorts, country inns, B&Bs and
other places to stay in Connecticut, please call 888-CTvisit (888-288-4748) or
log on at www.CTvisit.com. Connecticut
offers visitors a multi-faceted wealth of attractions, historical, cultural and
recreational activities, diverse and beautiful natural landscapes, parks,
beaches and wilderness sure to fulfill any getaway need.
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