This post was written in 2013, so some information may be out of date. Please visit their site for the latest event details.
So, at the beginning of the holiday season I posted a question on our Facebook Page asking readers for holiday outing recommendations. We received a lot of wonderful responses, but many readers suggested we check out an event that I had never heard of before.
Apparently the Parks and Recreation Department in Torrington, Connecticut has run a Christmas Village in town since 1947. Many of our readers raved about this wonderful opportunity for children to have a quality visit with Santa Claus and I knew we just had to check it out.
When I went online to try to research the outing before our visit, I wasn’t able to find a lot of information. I ended up calling the Parks and Recreation Department to find out the pertinent information (location, cost, if we were going to be out in the cold, etc.) and headed out.
As part of my call, I learned that this FREE holiday attraction is located at 150 Church Street in Torrington, Connecticut and is open daily from 1:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. I had been forewarned that the line at the village can become very long and takes a while to get through. For that reason, we decided to go on a weekday and as early as possible. In a perfect world we would have arrived right when it opened at 1:00 p.m., but in reality we arrived around 2:00 p.m.
The drive from my hometown of West Hartford to Torrington took about 45 minutes. It was right during nap time so we tried to get the kids to snooze along the way. I think they were too excited about the prospect of seeing Santa and there was no sleeping during our drive. Oh well!
When we arrived, we found parking right in front of the building which was nice and convenient. There was also parking available in a lot right across the street.
I knew we would be waiting outside for a while before we went inside, so I bundled the kids up with their warmest winter attire. I saw that several people in line had little ones in strollers, so I packed Sweetheart up in hers. In hindsight I wish I had brought a blanket for her too. It was cold!
I took a look at the line and thought it didn’t look too bad. Let me forewarn you, though, this line took us about an hour and fifteen minutes. My understanding from some others in line was that the wait in the evening and on the weekends is closer to three hours. Don’t get nervous, though, I’ve got a plan for you.
We had waited in line for about 20 minutes when I struck up a conversation with the family behind us. They were Christmas Village veterans and gave us the lowdown. First of all, I was thinking the line we were in was going to take about 30 minutes, but the dad behind us informed me that his guesstimate was an hour and a half. Yikes! They explained that it takes a while because Santa takes his time with each child, no rushing through the Santa visit. Well I liked that idea.
We could keep entertained for another 45+ minutes.
When the kids got chilly, we walked over to the fire pit to warm up.
Soon we noticed that several people had hot chocolate. Ooh. We needed some of that. It was located right around the corner in a small building on the side of Santa’s main headquarters. I sent hubby on a mission to get us some chocolate goodness.
The hot chocolate was FREE, but donations were gladly accepted. The restrooms were located in this area too.
The hot chocolate was another 15 minute diversion for the kids which was nice. But pretty soon the kiddos got restless (and cold). That is when the nice family behind us informed me that we could actually go around back and check out the rest of the Christmas Village while someone holds our place in line. The line was only to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus and there were several other things to check out in the back.
Well that was a nice tidbit.
The back area contained a lot of fun things to see: a toy shop, a stroll through the “village”, and a visit with the reindeer.
We needed to warm up, so our first stop was at the toy shop.
Inside we found a roaring fire (yay!), tons and tons of toys, and three elves working hard to prepare for Christmas.
This place was just so cute and my kiddos could have hung out there all day.
I finally convinced them to leave and explore the rest of the village.
There were fun displays and opportunities for cute pictures.
But one of the best parts of our village tour, was a visit with Santa’s reindeer. Real, live reindeer.
We saw Rudolph.
And the rest of the crew.
Before long, our tour was cut short when my husband texted me and said we were at the front of the line. It was back to the front of the building we went, and the kids were once again excited about their chance to meet Santa Claus.
When it was our turn to go in, we entered with one other family and waited in a hallway outside Santa’s room.
There were a few steps on the way up to the building, so there was a little extra effort with the stroller.
Once inside the next waiting area, a nice gentlemen asked if he could take my stroller while we went inside. I then noticed the sign indicating that strollers could not be brought in Santa’s room. No problem, he just moved it out back and we could pick it up when we were done.
As we waited, I noticed the donation box nearby. I will tell you that I felt absolutely no pressure to make a donation. The event is technically FREE. But, if you are able to support this event financially, the opportunity is there (and it is such a worthwhile cause).
This girl was rather excited as we waited outside Santa’s room. Even I could feel the excitement.Then, before we knew it, the door opened and we all headed in to meet Santa Claus. At this point I would love to show you beautiful photos of our visit with Santa, but unfortunately, they did not turn out so well. I had a few munchkins who were a bit nervous around the big guy and wanted to be held and the room where we met with him was a bit dark. That combination led me to attempt to take pictures with one hand. Bad idea. Just realize that these images do not accurately reflect the wonderful look and feel to Santa’s room.
Like I had been told, Santa took time to visit with each of the kids and we did not feel rushed in any way. My kiddos got a chance to talk with Santa and tell him what they wanted for Christmas (trains and Cinderella). Santa also did something that I was not expecting at all. He gave each of the kids a toy. Sparkles received a doll, Bruiser got a set of cars, and Sweetheart picked out a bear beanie baby. The kids were over the moon excited. What a wonderful, generous treat.
We hung around for a bit and then moved out to make way for the next family and our next stop. We followed the signs and looped back inside the main building for a visit with Mrs. Claus. She was wonderful as well.
There is still time to visit Santa Claus Christmas Village as it is open until Christmas Eve. The good news is that the weather is warming up this week, so waiting in line outside might not be as much of a challenge. If you have an opportunity for a visit, it is definitely a must-see holiday destination. We left with three happy kids and a wonderful feeling about the magic of Christmas.
Santa Claus Christmas Village
Phone: (860) 489-2274 (Torrington Parks and Recreation Department)
- Open December 8, 2013 – December 24, 2013
- Daily hours 1:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
- Christmas eve hours 9:00 a.m. – noon
- FREE (though cash donations are accepted)
- Things to see:
- Santa Claus
- Mrs. Claus
- The toy shop with elves
- Live reindeer
- Things to eat and drink:
- Hot chocolate is available for FREE
Tips and Things to Bring:
- Bring cash if you would like to make a donation
- You can bring a stroller but it will need to be placed outside during your visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus
- Bring snacks if you need them, only hot chocolate is available on site
- If it is cold, bring plenty of things to keep warm
- The wait to see Santa can be very long, be prepared
- If you have more than one adult in your group, have one adult hold your place in line while the other adult takes the kids to get hot chocolate and explore the rest of the Christmas Village in the back of the building
- If you need a restroom, port-a-potties are located near the hot chocolate building on the side of the main building
- Parking is available on the street out front or in the lot across the street. Parking is free.
- If you are looking to expand your Torrington outing, you can add in a trip to the KidsPlay children’s museum nearby.
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