Here it is! Our annual guide to Holiday Happenings in Connecticut. We are trying something a little different this year. I have included below details on a few events and then have put together a full list of events here. So many fun things to check out over the next few weeks! I hope our list helps you find that perfect event to add to your annual holiday traditions.
Lake Compounce, Bristol: A brand new family tradition is starting this year with their first ever Holiday Lights event. The park will be a glow with thousands of lights. Let the kids ride the north pole railway, check out select rides, enjoy caroling and go inside for pictures with Santa and other fun activities. The event runs in the evenings Friday – Sunday, November 30 – December 23. Tickets are $14.99 for Adults, $10.99 for kids 10 and under, and kids 3 and under are FREE (plus tax). The festivities are from 5-9pm on Fridays and 4-9pm on Saturdays and Sundays. (Photo from www.lakecompounce.com)
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford: The museum will be celebrating the season over several days with their 39th annual Festival of Trees & Traditions. The event runs November 30 – December 9 and includes a full schedule of activities each day. Enjoy the museum with your family and be inspired by the beautifully decorated trees (which are available for purchase). Most days offer hands on crafts for kids of all ages along with musical entertainment. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will visit December 2nd, 8th and 9th and the Hartt School Dancers will be there December 7th. If you are celebrating Chanukah, the Mandell JCC will be at this event on December 9th. Lastly, if you want to check out this event for FREE, visit on December 8th for the monthly Second Saturdays family event. Ticket prices are Adults: $13, Seniors (62+): $11, Students (13+): $8, Children (2-12): $3, and Members: $3. (Photo from www.thewadsworth.org)
Connecticut Trolley Museum, East Windsor: Is your little one a fan of trains and trolley’s? Then head on over to the Connecticut Trolley Museum’s Winterfest and the Tunnel of Lights event. It begins today and then runs Friday to Sunday through December 23rd. After Christmas, the event continues December 26 – 30. This event includes a visit to the museum to see model trains and displays, a visit with Santa Claus (bring your camera), and even a trolley ride. The ride runs about 15-20 minutes and goes a mile and a half through the “Tunnel of Lights”. You will have a choice of riding in a closed car or braving the cold and riding in the open “electric sleigh”. You can ride as many times as you would like. Bundle those kiddos up for a fun trolley ride full of lights and Christmas carols and then return to the visitor center to warm up, see Santa (and get a gift), enjoy the entertainment, admire the model trains, and grab a cup of hot cocoa. The event runs from 5-9pm and ticket prices are Adults $10, Seniors $8, Youth $6, and under two $3. (Photo from www.ct-trolley.org)
Wickham Park, Manchester: If you are looking for an uncommercialized visit with Santa, we highly recommend taking a trip to Santa’s Workshop at Wickham Park. We visited last year and had a wonderful time. Here the kids can have a chat about their wish list with the head elf and then they have a chance to spend a relaxing few minutes with the big man himself (Santa, in case you are wondering). After your visit, enjoy hot cocoa and cookies. If it is a chilly day, make sure to bundle up because if the line is long, you will be waiting outside. Bring your camera for pictures with Santa and bring some cash if you would like to make a donation. The event is FREE and will run December 13 – 23 from 3-6pm on weekdays and 1-5pm on weekends.
Bushnell Park, Hartford: The annual Winterfest Hartford event starts today and runs through January 21st. Check out Shawna’s post for lots of pictures and event details. Today’s opening day activities include ribbon cutting at 5:30, FREE ice skating, FREE photos with Santa from 6-7pm, and the Bushnell Carousel will be open from 4 – 9pm. Then the event continues with FREE ice skating (and free skate rentals) Sundays – Thursdays, 12 pm – 8 pm and Fridays – Saturdays, 12 pm – 9 pm. The Bushnell Park Carousel will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 11am – 7pm (through Dec. 30) and there will be FREE pictures with Santa at the Pumphouse on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 – 3pm (through Dec. 23). There is plenty to see and do here including a great playground for the kids. Should be a wonderful winter season family outing.
Goodwin Park, Hartford: Holiday Light Fantasia returns once again to Goodwin Park. The event has a bit of a delayed start this year due to some unfortunate vandalism, but it will open tomorrow night (November 24th) and remain open until January 6th. Dress your little ones in their pajamas, check out Shawna’s post from last year for details on where to grab a local coffee and sweet treat, and take a family trip over to this holiday light destination. Their website states, “The 2-mile show transforms Goodwin Park into a drive-through wonderland of holiday spirit with a beautiful collection of over 1 million lights.” Not only is this a wonderful family event, but the proceeds benefit Channel 3 Kids Camp. The event runs Sunday – Thursday from 5 – 9 pm and Friday – Saturday from 5 – 10pm. Admission is $12 per car, but go here for a $2 off coupon. Also, if you buy your Christmas tree there or at Bushnell park you will receive a coupon for FREE admission. Other drive-thru light displays in the state include Fantasy of Lights in New Haven and Festival of Silver Lights in Meriden. Or head over the border to Springfield, MA for a huge light display called Bright Nights in Forest Park.
Simsbury Celebrates, Simsbury: Head on over to downtown Simsbury tomorrow evening for their annual holiday event, Simsbury Celebrates. The event takes place up and down Hopmeadow Boulevard and includes a huge list of family activities. I’m only scratching the surface here, but they have a gingerbread house exhibit, photos with Santa ($5), Chanukah crafts, cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus, trolley rides, train rides, a holiday fire truck, a parade with Santa, and they will cap the night off with a fireworks display. The event runs from 4:30pm – 8:30pm but there are some activities that will begin at 4:00pm. Check their schedule for more details. You might even want to go a little early and let the kids burn off some energy at the Rotary Park Playground. (Photo from www.simsburycelebrates.com)
I hope this list of activities helps you get started with your holiday activity planning. But wait, we have another huge list of Holiday Happenings here. Check it out! Oh, and if you know of something that we didn’t include, please let us know. You can either leave a comment below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy this wonderful holiday season!
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