BRING THE KIDS FOR HOLIDAY LIGHTS, DELIGHTS IN WESTERN CONNECTICUT

Imagine a park wonderland aglow with thousands of twinkling lights and a show every half hour when glittering lights dance to holiday music.

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That is the thrill awaiting families when Lake Compounce, New England’s family theme park, inaugurates its first Holiday Lights season on weekends beginning November 29. The park, located in Bristol, in Western Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills, is one of a trio of special events for families in Litchfield and Fairfield Counties.

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Lights are not the only fun planned at Lake Compounce. Family rides and Kiddieland rides will be in operation, strolling carolers will fill the park with song, an ice carver will create frozen sculptures, and the park’s train will be transformed into the North Pole Railway, operated by a certain special bearded conductor dressed in red. Indoor activities will include cookie decorating, gingerbread house making and the chance to send a letter to Santa, with a guaranteed reply to come in the mail a few days later. Santa himself will be waiting in the Starlight Theater to pose for pictures with his young fans.

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Holiday Lights will be open 5 p.m. to 9 pm. on Friday, and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, November 29-December 1, and December 6-8, 13-15 and 20-22. For more information, see www.lakecompounce.com

See Santa’s Village, Meet Santa’s Reindeer

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No need to travel to the North Pole to visit Santa this holiday season. Every year since 1947, Santa and Mrs. Claus have been at home in Torrington’s Christmas Village, greeting friends in a “living room” where a log fire crackles in the fireplace and the ceiling sparkles with tinsel and lights. After a chat with Santa and a small gift, kids can head for the toy-filled workshop where local “elves” from the Parks and Recreation Department are busy with toys destined for youngsters in the town hospital. Live reindeers are waiting in a pen outside.

It is wise to come early as families do line up for this special event, but all declare it is worth the wait. The Christmas Village is located at 150 Church Street in Torrington. It will be open daily from December 8 to 23 from 1 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and on Christmas Eve from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Entrance is free. For information, check www.torringtonct.org

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Santa and his reindeer do get around in December. Over in Fairfield County, the 5th Annual Greenwich Reindeer Festival & Santa’s Workshop will be on from November 29 to December 24 at McArdle’s Florist & Garden Center, 48 Arch Street in Greenwich. Santa and his reindeer, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Blitzen, arrive on November 29 at 2 p.m., riding down Greenwich Avenue to the Garden Center where refreshments are served to welcome the start of the festival. They remain for all to enjoy through Christmas eve. Feeding times for the reindeer are 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily. For more information, see www.greenwichreindeerfestival.com

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 and Litchfield Counties in Western Connecticut, contact the Western Connecticut Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-45606, or visit their web site at www.visitwesternct.com

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