All Aboard with Santa in Thomaston and Danbury

We know that Santa gets around during the holiday season, but sleighs are not his only favorite mode of travel. In Litchfield Hills, you can often find the man in red enjoying a holiday train ride–and he loves company.

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On December weekends, Santa can be found aboard the Santa Express leaving from Thomaston, CT, ready with bags of goodies for all the young passengers he meets along the way. Santa is so fond of trains that he even has two satellite workshops in train cars, one reached via a vintage train ride at the Danbury Railway Museum and another along the way on the Northern Lights Limited, a nighttime train excursion from Thomaston.

Rides are just part of the special railroad fun for families this year in Fairfield and Litchfield Counties, where lavish displays of working model trains are a traditional holiday treat in several locations.

The Santa Express in Thomaston This 1920s vintage train travels along the scenic Naugatuck River for a warm, cozy 80-minute round-trip ride. Santa brings along Mrs. Claus and some friendly helper elves to visit with each child on board. Trains depart from the historic 1881 station in Thomaston Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Dec. 13,14,19,20,21.

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Light displays inside and out make for an exciting outing at night aboard the Northern Lights Limited from Thomaston. The train makes a stop at Santa’s Train Workshop, where the great man will board and greet everyone with gifts. Trains depart at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on December 14,19,20,and 21.

Back at the gaily decorated station, a model train layout is in action, and a large selection of railroad theme gifts, books and memorabilia can be found. Tickets and information are available from the Railroad Museum of New England, online at www.rmne.org, or by phoning (860) 283-7245.

All Aboard in Danbury At the Danbury Railway Museum, a classic 1903 station with a railroad yard filled with vintage train cars, visitors can ride a working vintage train through the yard to Santa’s Workshop. They will find him busily supervising his elves as they make toys, but still with time to talk with visitors and offer a small gift for every child.

A miniature train layout whizzes its way around the restored station, where once again, there are gifts for railroad buffs of all ages. Trains leave every half hour from noon to 3 p.m. on weekends, December 14, 20 and 21. For tickets and information, see www.Danbury.org/drm or phone: (203) 778-8337.

For information on the Litchfield Hills visit www.litchfieldhills.com

Can you smell the gingerbread in Kent?

The sweet scents will tease your sense of smell as you enter the quaint village of Kent CT. The rolling pins are spinning and creative minds of all ages are working hard to create over 40 Gingerbread Houses. Ovens are filled to capacity and working overtime to get ready for the 3rd ANNUAL KENT GINGERBREAD FESTIVAL through Jan. 5, 2015.

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Gingerbread Houses of all shapes and sizes will be on display in over 40 beautifully decorated shop windows until the first week in January. As you approach Kent you will find yourself in what looks like a movie set of the perfect little New England town, twinkling lights will guide you through the unique one of a kind shops. What an enjoyable way to do your holiday shopping. Add to that, a little Naughty Gingerbread Man named FREDDIE and you have the recipe for the most exciting Holiday Destination in Connecticut.

FREDDIE and his crew of ten Gingerbread Bad Boys will be hiding out in the shop windows amongst the Gingerbread Houses. So bring the family and friends and put on your detective hats and gumshoes. Vote for your favorite Window Display and House and you can also enter for free to win a great prize. Download a Gingerbread Manhunt Walking Map to find FREDDIE and his girlfriend GINGER, the cute, hot & spicy Gingerbread Girl he rescued from the bakery. Even though FREDDIE has been NAUGHTY, while you are in Kent, you can complete your NICE shopping list, away from the crowded malls & parking lots. Here you will find smiling faces, and even get your gifts wrapped for free in most shops.

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Should you be hungry after your Gingerbread Manhunt Walk there are many temptations that will lure you, from a chocolate shop and baked goods to delicious culinary delights in one of Kent’s twelve restaurants & cafés. Join in the “Find Freddie Fun” and make Kent CT your Annual Holiday Destination.

For more holiday information and the latest on Freddie visit www.kentct.com and for holiday events in Litchfield Hills www.litchfieldhills.com

Osborne Homestead decked out for the holidays

The Osborne Homestead Museum located on 500 Hawthorne Ave in Derby is festooned for the holidays. Each year six regional garden clubs get together to decorate the house in accordance with a theme, this year the theme is music… and they are celebrating Holiday at the Symphony!

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Each room if the Osborne Homestead showcases the different musical components of the symphony orchestra. Upon entering the museum, visitors will see and learn about the musical instrument families and the Osborne family’s influence in the music industry.

Frances Osborne Kellogg, an accomplished violinist and secretary of the National Association of Conductors and Composers shared her love of music with the community by bringing world-renowned performers and opera singers to the Sterling Opera House in Derby. She was also the founder of the Derby Choral Society and hired the distinguished Yale composer, Horatio Parker to direct the choral club. This years holiday decorations showcase the love of Frances’ and her family’s love of music.

Recently renovated, the Osborne Homestead built in the mid.-1800’s encompasses the former Frances Osborne Kellogg Estate. This house was enlarged and remodeled in the Colonial Revival style during the 1920s. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the interior displays original contents of the estate that includes fine antiques and paintings.

This festive house tour, with each room lavishly decorated is sure to inspire you to decorate your home or apartment. The tours are free of charge although donations are appreciated. Tours of the house are available on Thursdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through December 20.

For a special treat, take one of the twilight house tours on Friday, December 19. If you will be touring the house with a group of 8 or more people, please call ahead 203-734-2513 to reserve a tour date and time.

Greenwich Reindeer Festival

It’s that magical time of year again when Santa and his LIVE reindeer, Dasher Dancer, Prancer and Blitzen, return to McArdle’s Florist & Garden Center, 48 Arch Street, in Greenwich, Conn, for the 4th Annual Greenwich Reindeer Festival and Santa’s Workshop, through Christmas Eve, December 24, 2014. Last year, over 800 photos with Santa were taken and many more are expected this year.

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The reindeer will reside at McArdle’s, for one month. There, young and old can marvel at the reindeer and learn more about these special animals.

Inside, McArdle’s will be transformed into Santa’s Workshop, an unforgettable holiday wonderland where families, children, corporate groups and even pets can have their photo taken with Santa. Photo packages begin at $29.99 and include special coupons to shop at over 100 participating downtown Greenwich stores and restaurants. This year’s festival will feature a new component – Reindeer Fun Facts – educational information about the animals, the mystery of their antlers, eating and sleeping habits and more.

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New this year is the chance to win a Mercedes-Benz Peddle Car when you have your photo taken with Santa. One entry per purchase of every Photo with Santa Package. Two winners will be drawn December 24, 2013, 3pm. The two (2) winners will be notified immediately Christmas Eve. Compliments of Mercedes-Benz of Greenwich.

The 6th Annual Greenwich Reindeer Festival and photos with Santa will take place Monday through Friday, noon to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Reindeer feeding times will take place daily at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. The reindeer will head to the North Pole around 1 p.m. on December 23, but Santa will remain until 4 p.m. Christmas Eve before beginning his busy night.

For more information and a list of the over 100 participating retail stores and restaurants, visit www.GreenwichReindeerFestival.com. For area information www.visitfairfieldcountyct.com

Holiday Lights at Lake Compounce

Lake Compounce, located on Lake Ave. in Bristol is proud to announce their third annual “Lake Compounce Holiday Lights”, a seasonal holiday themed family event taking place on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings beginning December 5-7, 12-14, and 19-21. The park gates will open at 5:00 P.M. on Fridays, and at 4:00 P.M. on Saturdays and Sundays.

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‘Holiday Lights’ will provide full family entertainment for all ages, and include festive activities such as a spectacular light show every half hour at the main gate, which will feature tens of thousands of dancing lights set to holiday music. Kiddieland rides and family themed rides will be in operation. The Train will be transformed into the North Pole Railway, operated by a very special, uniformed train conductor with a magical holiday story to tell.

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There will be indoor activities such as cookie decorating and gingerbread house making. Children will be given the opportunity to customize their very own letter to Santa, and will then receive a personalized letter sent directly to them, from Santa, just a few days later. On the Kiddieland stage children can enjoy Story Time with Mrs. Clause. There will be carolers strolling throughout the park, an ice carver creating unique, frozen sculptures, and lots more festive entertainment including clowns making balloon animals and lots of holiday characters greeting guests. The childhood favorite; photos with Santa is not to be missed in the Winter Wonderland Starlight Theatre. The park’s gift shops will also be loaded with holiday themed merchandise for sale, so guests can get their holiday shopping done, too.

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Admission is $14.99 plus tax per adult, $10.99 plus tax for children 4 thru 10, and free for children 3 and under. Platinum Season Pass holders may enter for free with their 2014 or 2015 pass. Tickets may be purchased online now, or at the park gate once the event begins. Nominal fees will be charged for select activities. 2015 Platinum Passes are being offered at the park at aspecial sale price of $74.99 plus tax. For more information https://www.lakecompounce.com

For more holiday events www.litchfieldhills.com

Celebrate the Season at the PT Barnum Museum

The PT Barnum Museum located on 820 Main Street in Bridgeport is hosting two holiday events that detail traditions that began in the Victorian times and are still celebrated today.

On December 10 at 12:15 for example, guests will get a sneak peek at the Barnum Museum. This free event is open to the public and will explore the fact that Christmas as we know it today is really a wonderful creation dating back to the Victorian times. The tradition of the Christmas tree, gift-giving and joyous celebrations with family and friends began in America in the mid 19th-century. Join the museum staff as they showcase some holiday costumes and finery that speak to the opulence of the holiday season!

On December 14 at 2 p.m. the musuem is celebrating the season with journey back in time. Escape the hustle and bustle of the holiday season for an hour or so while listening to the lecture by Museum Director Kathy Maher. She will present the evolution of the tales and traditions of the Victorian Age Christmas. There is no registration but a $5 donation is suggested. The museum is free for kids under 12.

For more information about the P.T. Barnum Museum visit http://www.barnum-museum.org.

For area information www.visitfairfieldcountryct.com

‘Let’s Play Shakespeare’ free in Rowayton Dec. 12

Shakespeare on the Sound reaches down through the centuries to introduce the enduring and timeless themes of The Bard in premiering the 2015 version of “Let’s Play Shakespeare” Dec. 12 (Friday) at 3:30 p.m. in the Moose Room of the Rowayton Community Center on 33 Highland Avenue.

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The 50-minute production—to be followed by a question-and-answer opportunity—is an original and interactive theatrical work designed to give children from kindergarten to grade five an insight into Shakespeare– but appealing to all ages. Admission is free, donations optional.
The sweep of Shakespeare’s lyrical scythe from comedy to tragedy unfolds onstage as the actors argue over which passages they should perform—and who gets the biggest part– from a palate that shuffles iconic scenes from “Macbeth,” “Henry V,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “As You Like It” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The performers work with props extracted from a trunk they bring onstage with them. All three are New York-based professionals who have all appeared in previous outdoor productions of Shakespeare on the Sound in Rowayton’s Pinkney Park. They are Katie Wieland, Matthew Lynch and Daniel Levitt.

The playwrights, Kelly and Bryan, created an innovative format where youngsters from the audience are invited on-stage to warm up with the actors and to act in the performance, becoming, for example, part of Henry V’s army. The play with its interactive dimension is also portable and available for presentation in schools and libraries.

For more information visit http://www.shakespareonthesound.org For area information www.visitfairfieldcountyct.com