Whether experienced from the comfort of your vehicle, or six feet apart wearing a mask, several local organizations have come up with several ways to make this holiday season just as magical as any other year.
COVID-19 restrictions have made it necessary to adjust the size and scope of many of this year’s events. If you choose to venture out, please think of others, wear a mask, keep your distance, and play it safe in the hope that the 2021 holidays will be even merrier.
Carl Bozenski’s Christmas Village
150 Church St., Torrington
Quaint, non-commercial, and magical, Torrington’s Christmas Village has been a holiday tradition for 73 years. Located 45 minutes west of Hartford – on Church Street in Torrington – this free holiday attraction enchants visitors young and old.
This year’s festivities will go on at limited capacity, without the traditional in-person Toy Shower or opening day parade. From Dec. 13 to 24, the village will be open to mask-wearing visitors on weekdays from 1 to 8:30 p.m., weekends from noon to 8:30 p.m., and on Christmas Eve from 9 a.m. until noon.
Guarantee your entry by registering online at www.torringtonct.org/christmasvillage, where you can select a specific date and time.
35 Mountain Rd., Farmington
Enjoy a trip back in time to a place that always looks like a Christmas card.
The Hill-Stead Museum and Ballet Theatre Company (BTC) are partnering to deliver a Nutcracker experience reimagined for 2020. Before touring the museum, which will be filled with more than 20 exquisite and sparkling pieces from BTC’s “Through the Tulle” costume exhibition, attendees will be transported to New York City’s Fifth Avenue for an opulent and enchanting window display. Inside the museum’s Carriage Porch, dancers from BTC Company will perform excerpts from the Nutcracker, as onlookers are mesmerized by dancers twirling, leaping, and pirouetting in their very own snow globe. The exhibit will be on display through January 10.
Also at the Hill-Stead will be a one-day outdoor event on Saturday, Dec. 5 (the rain date is Sunday, Dec. 6), where you’ll find unique holiday gifts at Hill-Stead’s Annual Holiday Boutique. Shoppers will find more than 20 vendors including artists, artisans, and specialty crafters. Each will have an individually tented booth. The Farmington Farm Truck will be selling seasonal items including wreaths, greens, centerpieces, maple syrup, honey, jams, and other local delights. There will also be grab-and go-food as well as hot and cold beverages. Free timed tickets will be available on Eventbrite for one-hour time slots.
Outdoor Christmas Market
Bristol Historical Society
98 Summer St., Bristol
In lieu of the Bristol Historical Society’s usual holiday fair, an Outdoor Christmas Market will be held on Saturday, Dec. 5 from 3 to 6 p.m. Come shop for ornaments, Christmas decor, gift items, and curated gift baskets. Hot chocolate and coffee will be available. All will be held under twinkling Christmas lights, bringing the European tradition of outdoor holiday markets to Bristol.
Because of this year’s pandemic, the market will not include vendors or the typical bake sale that usually accompany the holiday fair, and items will be marked in whole dollar amounts due to the change shortage. The snow date is Sunday, December 6.
Bethlehem Christmas Town Festival
At the junction of Route 61 and Route 132, Bethlehem
Life is always busy in the little town of Bethlehem during Christmas season given its famous name, and this year is no exception. The 40th annual festival might look a little different, but the spirit will still be very much alive.
This year’s town festival will run from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4, and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5. A tree-lighting ceremony will be held Friday at 6 p.m. Santa will stay for the balance of the festival, giving families the opportunity to take their own safe-distance, memorable photos with Santa.
The festival’s 2020 Christmas ornament will be available for purchase, and several of the town’s non-profit organizations will be selling food and/or beverages, but crafts vendors will have to wait until 2021 to sell their wares.
A series of free music concerts on the town green will be held on Saturday, with a “Santa Made me Do It” 5K road race before the start of the festival.
The festival is run entirely by volunteers, with the goal of raising money to help support Memorial Hall, the community center in Bethlehem, by holding an affordable, family-friendly Christmas festival.
Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave., Essex
The folks at Essex Station love Christmas as much as anyone, but know that it’s just not safe for large groups of families to come aboard the trains this year for the Essex Steam Train North Pole Express or Santa Special Elf Academy Train Excursions.
But using their collective talents, the staff is producing an amazing interactive, safe and socially distant outdoor experience. Christmas Adventures at Essex Station will include a one-hour, self-guided tour with treats, photo opportunities, and a socially distanced visit with Santa at his workshop.
Guests can feast on a specially selected four-course holiday meal served in beautifully decorated 1920s Pullman dining cars pulled by a vintage diesel locomotive. On the Essex Holiday Dinner Clipper Train, sip a festive drink, listen to merry music, and feel the warmth of the holidays during a special two-hour dining experience.
The dinner is for passengers ages 10 and over. Tickets are still available, but dates are filling up quickly.
Teresa M. Pelham is a writer based in Farmington. She is the author of three children’s books based on her two little brown rescue dogs. For information, please visit www.roxysforeverhome.com.