BETHLEHEM (CT) OFFERS A FESTIVE START TO THE HOLIDAY SEASON

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They call this little town in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut “Christmas Town” with good reason. Bethlehem’s Christmas Town Festival scheduled for December 6 and 7, celebrates its 33rd birthday this year as one of New England’s favorite ways to kick off the season. Wherever you turn, special treats are waiting, from the town green to the post office to the Abbey of Regina Laudis and the 1754 Bellamy-Ferriday House. Some of the unique attractions continue when the festival is over.
Vendors and More On the Green

The quaint town green, centered with a giant tree, is home to over 70 vendors with unique gift items, wreaths and delicious foods for sale. Strolling carolers and musicians help keep things lively, Santa will be waiting at the firehouse to pose for pictures with young friends, and everyone is invited to climb aboard for hayrides offered in front of First Church. Collectors can garner this year’s unique limited edition Christmas Town pewter ornament, sold only during the Festival.

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Bethlehem’s beautiful eighteenth century Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden will be festively decorated and open for tours and holiday cheer during festival hours. Guides will offer house tours and there will be hot cider and a scavenger hunt for children. The home is located at 9 Main Street North, information can be found at www.ctlandmarks.org

Hours for the Christmas Town Festival are Friday, December 6 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday, December 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, see http://www.christmastownfestival.com or phone 203-266-7510, ext. 300.

Christmas Town Mailings at the Post Office

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The Bethlehem post office is busy in December serving the many who come every year to mail holiday cards with their unique postmarks. Visitors can select favorites among the “Christmas Cachet” designs, hand-stamp and mail these unique greetings to friends and family. The idea of the special stamps dates to 1938, when a local Postmaster, the late Earl Johnson, designed a “cachet,” a special rubber stamp featuring a tree and lettering that said “From the Little Town of Bethlehem, Christmas Greetings.” New cachets have been added almost every year since. Over 70 designs are now available and nearly 200,000 cards are mailed each year from this small post office. Located at 34 East Street, the post office will have extended hours during the festival, Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Precious Crèches at the Abbey

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One of Bethlehem’s not-to-be-missed jewels is open all month for visitors. The museum-quality eighteenth century Neapolitan crèche on view in a vintage barn at the Abbey of Regina Laudis includes hundreds of beautiful hand-carved figures. Made of wood, terra cotta, and porcelain, the figures portray the Holy Family, angels, the Three Kings, merchants and peddlers, children, peasants and farm animals. This fabulous gift from artist and philanthropist Loretta Hines Howard is similar to the one Howard donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it is prominently displayed every Christmas.

A second Crèche, The Lauren Ford Crèche, created by a favorite Connecticut artist, is displayed in a farm shed near the Lower Abbey Chapel. This charming rustic Nativity scene displays figures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph dressed in typical New England garb.

The Monastic Art Shop on the property offers crafts, cheeses, jams, herbal teas, flavored vinegars, herbs and honey, and all created on site by the Abbey’s residents.

The Abbey of Regina Laudis, located at 249 Flanders Road, is open to visitors daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit www.abbeyofreginalaudis.org

For more information about holiday activities and a free copy of UNWIND, a full-color, 152-page booklet detailing what to do and see, and where to stay, shop and dine in Fairfield County and the Litchfield Hills of Western Connecticut, contact the Western Connecticut Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506, or visit their web site at www.visitwesternct.com

Holiday in Washington Depot Dec. 14

Washington Parks & Recreation and the Washington Business Association is hosting an evening of fun and good cheer in this bucolic village in the heart of the Litchifeld Hills.

There will be food, music, raffles, and hay rides throughout the town. The evening will begin at 6:00pm with the lighting of the tree by a very special guest. Outside the town hall after the tree has been lit, children from Washington Montessori School will be singing Christmas carols . Shortly after the tree lighting, Santa will arrive by way of hay wagon and listen to children’s wishes in the town hall until 8:30 p.m. Pictures will be taken with one photo per child provided.

The Troubadours from the Gunnery School will be caroling throughout the Depot during the evening. Clifford the Big Red Dog will be visiting businesses to offer holiday paw shakes to his fans. Inside the Town Hall, The Ladies Auxiliary of the Washington Volunteer Fire Department will have a special mailbox for letters to Santa, and will be selling their annual Christmas Ornament.

The Gunn Memorial Library and Gunn Museum will have a craft project for the children while they patiently wait for their turn with Santa. Washington Primary School PTO will be selling baked goods outside the Town Hall from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.

The Senior Center will be selling gift items and raffling off a wreath and poinsettia donated by Painter Ridge Farm. The Washington Business Association will be sponsoring a drawing for a Mini I Pad and a gift basket of goodies. Tickets for the drawing will be available at member businesses from 6-8 and should be dropped off at Washington Supply for the drawing at 8:30.


The Hickory Stick Bookshop will be hosting a book signing from 7- 8 with Florence and Wendell Minor featuring My Bookstore for which they wrote an essay on the shop. Mo the Magician will be showing his tricks at Washington Supply and Outdoor Living from 6:30-8;30.

Other activities will be featured throughout the Depot to delight visitors to open businesses. Whether you stroll the streets of the Depot or ride on the hay wagon you’ll find a warm welcome inside the beautifully decorated shops which have kept their doors open welcoming friends with refreshments and other surprises. It is an evening not to be missed in Litchfield Hills.

Bethlehem New England’s Christmas Town

Over 70 special holiday cache’s to choose from

To get into the proper holiday spirit early, the place to be the first weekend in December is the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut. Festivals galore start the season right in this region that is always as pretty as a Christmas card, and there are numerous opportunities to check off your holiday shopping list in scenic settings. The only dilemma is where to go first.

One good place to start is Connecticut’s own little town of Bethlehem, a quaint, village that is transformed each December, when it becomes New England’s favorite Christmas Town.

Thousands of visitors arrive to mail their Christmas cards with a Bethlehem postmark and to enjoy the 30th annual gala Christmas Town Festival, set this year for Friday night December 7 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a tree lighting at 6 p.m. and Saturday, December 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. The town green is transformed for the occasion with some 70 vendors offering crafts and good food. Bring the family for musical entertainment, hayrides and the chance for a photo with Santa. Find the complete schedule at www.christmastownfestival.com

Bethlehem’s historic Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden will be festively decorated for the weekend, with themed decorations in each of the first floor rooms. Children will enjoy games, prizes and surprises and refreshments in the Visitor’s Center. This house will be open during festival hours, December 7 and 8 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. For details, phone (203) 266-7596. For details, phone (203) 266-7596 or visit www.ctlandmarks.org

Bethlehem also offers the chance to visit a rare museum-quality 18th century Neapolitan Crèche housed in a barn at the Abbey of Regina Laudis. Check the hours at www.abbeyofreginalaudis.com

The Bethlehem Post Office is also offering extended hours. Bring your holiday cards and stamp them with a special cache. There are 76 stamp designs to choose from as one new design is added each year. The post office will be open with extended hours for the festival. The post office is open on Fri. Dec. 7 from 8 am to 8 pm; on Sat, December 8, 15, & 22 from 8 am to 3 pm and Mon.- Fri. 8 am to 5 pm the month of December

For area information on where to stay, shop and dine, please visit www.litchfieldhills.com.

HOLIDAY SPIRIT GETS AN EARLY START IN THE LITCHFIELD HILLS

To get into the proper holiday spirit early, the place to be the first weekend in December is the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut. Festivals galore start the season right in this region that is always as pretty as a Christmas card, and there are numerous opportunities to check off your holiday shopping list in scenic settings. The only dilemma is where to go first.

Bethlehem New England’s Christmas Town

One good place to start is Connecticut’s own little town of Bethlehem, a quaint, village that is transformed each December, when it becomes New England’s favorite Christmas Town. Thousands of visitors arrive to mail their Christmas cards with a Bethlehem postmark and to enjoy the 31st annual gala Christmas Town Festival, set this year for Friday night December 7 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a tree lighting at 6 p.m. and Saturday, December 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m..

The town green is transformed for the occasion with some 70 vendors offering crafts and good food. Bring the family for musical entertainment, hayrides and the chance for a photo with Santa. Find the complete schedule at www.christmastownfestival.com

Bethlehem’s historic Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden will be festively decorated for the weekend, with themed decorations in each of the first floor rooms. Children will enjoy games, prizes and surprises and refreshments in the Visitor’s Center. This house will be open during festival hours, December 7 and 8 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. For details, phone (203) 266-7596. For details, phone (203) 266-7596 or visit www.ctlandmarks.org

Bethlehem also offers the chance to visit a rare museum-quality 18th century Neapolitan Crèche housed in a barn at the Abbey of Regina Laudis. Check the hours at www.abbeyofreginalaudis.com

The Bethlehem Post Office is also offering extended hours. Bring your holiday cards and stamp them with a special cache. There are 76 stamp designs to choose from as one new design is added each year. The post office will be open with extended hours for the festival. The post office is open on Fri. Dec. 7 from 8 am to 8 pm; on Sat, December 8, 15, & 22 from 8 am to 3 pm and Mon.- Fri. 8 am to 5 pm the month of December

For area information on where to stay, shop and dine, please visit www.litchfieldhills.com.

Family Fun

Kids will love the Grinch Festival a the Imagine Nation Children’s Museum in Bristol on December 7 from 5 pm to 8 pm, where the Dr. Seuss world of Whoville, complete with crafts, sing-alongs and special visitors–including the Grinch. www.imaginenation.org

December 1-16 marks the opening of the Winter Indian Arts & Craft Market at the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, and from noon to 4 p.m. parents can shop in the holiday tent that offers items for up to 70% off. The market continues the whole month of December. www.iaismuseum.org.

Holiday ornament-making for kids will take place at the Sharon Tree Lighting on the green and Sharon Historical Society Open House starting at 4:30 on December 1. Everyone is invited to enjoy hot chocolate and homemade cookies furnished by Sharon residents at the society’s headquarters, the historic Gay-Hoyt House, which is beautifully decorated for the occasion. www.sharonhist.org

The Merwinsville Hotel and Museum is transformed into a winter wonderland every year for Christmas in Gaylordsville, a world of snow villages, model trains around the Christmas tree, caroler’s displays of snow globes, nutcrackers and music boxes. The event takes place Nov. 30, 6:30- 930 and Dec. 1-2 from 10 to 5 pm. Art, crafts, jewelry, weavings, birdhouses, and photography by local artists are among the tempting items for sale. A special Story Time for children will take place on Saturday and Sunday at 11AM. www.merwinsvillehotel.org.

Festive Shopping

This will be the 23rd year for St. John’s Bazaar in Washington November 30 and Dec. 1 and 2. A live auction will take place at Friday night’s preview party, with offerings such as a week in Tuscany or a Nantucket getaway. The Bazaar continues on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with festive gift shopping and delicious treats from the famous St. John’s Larder. www.stjohnwashington.org

Another favorite historic celebration is the annual Holiday Festival at the Glebe House in Woodbury, also Friday, December 1 and Saturday, and December 2. Free tours will be offered of the museum house, beautifully decorated for the holidays with wreaths, holiday lighting, and garlands, all for sale. A bazaar offers many original gift ideas. www.theglebehouse.org

The Holiday Tea at the historic Rider House is a happy tradition presented by the Danbury Museum and Historical Society from noon to 1:30 p.m. on November 29-30 and December 1. A variety of teas and an assortment of sandwiches, savories and sweets will be served and the Danbury Museum’s Holiday Bazaar will be open with a host of gift ideas. Reservations are required–space is limited. Call (203) 723-5200 for further information.

There’s still wonderful shopping to be had the following weekend at the Newtown Holiday Craft Festival at the Edmond Town Hall gymnasium in Newtown, on December 9th where over 36-juried vendors will be offering their handcrafted wares. Information is available at (203) 261-2414.

Or plan to have Breakfast with Santa on December 15 and 16 at Wood Acres Farm in Terryville. Eggs, pancakes and sausages are on the menu, there will be horse-drawn hay or sleigh for all and young visitors will enjoy a visit with Santa and story time with Mrs. Claus. For advance tickets, phone: (860) 583-8670.

For more information about these and other December events in the Litchfield Hills and to receive a free copy of UNWIND, a 112-page color guide to lodging, dining and other attractions, contact the Western Connecticut Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506, www.visitwesternct.com.

HOLIDAY SPIRIT GETS AN EARLY START IN THE LITCHFIELD HILLS – Dec. 2 and 3!

One good place to start is Connecticut’s own little town of Bethlehem, a quaint, village that is transformed each December, when it becomes New England’s favorite Christmas Town. Thousands of visitors arrive to mail their Christmas cards with a Bethlehem postmark and to enjoy the 30th annual gala Christmas Town Festival, set this year for Friday night December 2 and Saturday, December 3. The town green is transformed for the occasion with some 70 vendors offering crafts and good food. Bring the family for musical entertainment, hayrides and the chance for a photo with Santa. Find the complete schedule at www.christmastownfestival.com

Bethlehem’s historic Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden will be festively decorated for the weekend, with themed decorations in each of the first floor rooms. Children will enjoy games, prizes and surprises and refreshments in the Visitor’s Center. This house will be open during festival hours, December 2 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and December 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For details, phone (203) 266-7596.

Bethlehem also offers the chance to visit a rare museum-quality 18th century Neapolitan Crèche housed in a barn at the Abbey of Regina Laudis. Check the hours at abbeyofreginalaudis.com.

Family Fun

Kids will love the Grinch Festival a the Imagine Nation Children’s Museum in Bristol on December 2, where the Dr. Seuss world of Whoville, complete with crafts, sing-alongs and special visitors–including the Grinch. www.imaginenation.org

December 3 marks the opening of the Winter Indian Arts & Craft Market at the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, and from 1 to 2 p.m. parents can shop in peace while their children are happily occupied making cornhusk holiday angels to decorate the tree at home. The market continues the whole month of December. www.birdstone.org

More holiday ornament-making for kids will take place at the Sharon Tree Lighting on the green and Sharon Historical Society Open House starting at 4:45 on December 3. Everyone is invited to enjoy hot chocolate and homemade cookies furnished by Sharon residents at the society’s headquarters, the historic Gay-Hoyt House, which is beautifully decorated for the occasion. www.sharonhist.org

The Merwinsville Hotel and Museum is transformed into a winter wonderland every year for Christmas in Gaylordsville, a world of snow villages, model trains around the Christmas tree, caroler’s displays of snow globes, nutcrackers and music boxes. Art, crafts, jewelry, weavings, birdhouses, and photography by local artists are among the tempting items for sale. A special Story Time for children will take place on Saturday and Sunday at 11AM. www.gaylordsville.org

Festive Shopping

This will be the 22nd year for St. John’s Bazaar in Woodbury December 2 and 3. A live auction will take place at Friday night’s preview party, with offerings such as a week in Tuscany or a Nantucket getaway. The Bazaar continues on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with festive gift shopping and delicious treats from the famous St. John’s Larder. www.stjohnwoodbury.org

Another favorite historic celebration is the annual Holiday Festival at the Glebe House in Woodbury, also Friday, December 2 and Saturday, December 3. Free tours will be offered of the museum house, beautifully decorated for the holidays with wreaths, holiday lighting, and garlands, all for sale. A bazaar offers many original gift ideas. www.theglebehouse.org

The Holiday Tea at the historic Rider House is a happy tradition presented by the Danbury Museum and Historical Society from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. on December 3. A variety of teas and an assortment of sandwiches, savories and sweets will be served and the Danbury Museum’s Holiday Bazaar will be open with a host of gift ideas. Reservations are required–space is limited. Call (203) 723-5200 for further information.

The Bethel Holiday Craft Festival at The Best Western Berkshire Inn on December 3 will be another opportunity to find unique gifts made by many talented artisans. Phone (203) 261-2414 for hours.