Christmas in Connecticut | A Top Twenty List

Less than one week until Christmas. I honestly don’t know how the time flies these days. The past couple years I have been caught up in the busy trap, even though it is something I have been working on this past year. Sometimes it hardly feels like Christmastime until I am sitting by the fire with my family on Christmas Eve with holiday music playing in the background. Many families share similar traditions this time of year, with their own personal family traditions tossed in. I wanted to share my top twenty list for a lovely Connecticut Christmas here in New England. I lived out of New England for seven years, coming back most years for the holidays, but often spending much of the festivities out-of-state. This is my third Christmas back home and it is oh so good to be back. This post is mostly for my local readers, but I do hope that it inspires you to find similar events and activities right in your home town. Here are twenty ways for you and your loved ones to make the most of Christmas in Connecticut: 

  1. Watching Christmas in Connecticut (1945) is my favorite holiday tradition. It gets me excited for what is to come and feels cozy like home. This tradition started for me when I was living out of the state and feeling homesick over the holidays. I Google searched classic films in New England and this film found me when I needed it most. Watching my favorite holiday movies and listening to classic music is the best way to jump into the holiday spirit. 
  2. Watch a Christmas tree lighting in town. As a kid, I thought that every town had a Christmas tree lighting. How could it be Christmas without one? But when I moved to Maryland after college I realized pretty quickly that many towns don’t have them. I love the sense of community you feel at a town Christmas Tree lighting, and nearly every town in Connecticut has one. Noteworthy small-town Connecticut Christmas tree lightings: Southbury, Newtown, Niantic, and Bethlehem. 
  3. Litchfield Connecticut has a living nativity with live actors and animals at the beginning of every December at Lourdes Shrine. 
  4. Bethlehem Connecticut is a lovely small town, but thousands flock in every year for its famous Bethlehem Christmas Festival. With a name like Bethlehem, you know it is going to be good.
  5. The Wood memorial Library in Windsor Connecticut has a spectacular gingerbread house festival every year and it is free to the public. 
  6. The Festival of Trees and Traditions at the Wadworth Atheneum in Hartford, CT is an incredible event that also raises money for great causes. The museum is one of the most stunning museums in the state. While you appreciate the art, you will be amazed by the collection of decorated trees and wreaths showcased around the entire museum. 
  7. Live by the shoreline? Don’t miss the Lantern Light Tours in Mystic. Visit the maritime village, dance in a tavern, and go for a ride in a horse drawn carriage. 
  8. Holidays light shows are magical this time of year, even when we don’t have snow. Visit Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven for the Fantasy of Lights. Or try the lightshow at Lake Compounce. Ivorytown also lights up for an outdoor event every holiday with over 400,000 Christmas lights with activities for the entire town. Closer to Hartford? Don’t miss Hartford’s Holiday Lights Fantasia. 
  9. At the beginning of December every year, go for a community lamplight stroll in Milford. 
  10. Cut down a Christmas tree. No matter where you go, you cannot go wrong. Connecticut has an abundance of amazing Christmas tree farms. 
  11. Find a holiday wreath at a small town shop. 
  12. Ice skating is so magical this time of year. Sure, we don’t have a Rockefeller Center here in Connecticut, but we do have Bushnell Park in Hartford. Enjoy free ice skating at Winterfest in the park overlooking the lovely capital building. Ice skating and skate rentals are completely free!
  13. I love snow tubing! Bring your own sled or tube out to a local hill or go to a ski resort such as Powder Ridge Park.
  14. Go see the Nutcracker. It is a holiday tradition for many Americans for a reason. You can see a really great production at the Palace Theater every year, or even catch a lovely local rendition. The Main Street Ballet Company in Woodbury and Southbury puts on a spectacular show every year at Pomperaug High School in Southbury with incredible dancing, beautiful costumes, gorgeous backdrops, and even snow! 
  15. Looking for something more religious to celebrate the holiday? The Boar’s Head Festival on 12th Night at the Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford will not disappoint. This show features live camels and authentic costumes! 
  16. The Essex Steam Train is turned into the North Pole Express every December. Come for a holiday train ride like the Christmas Express and the kids to meet Santa. 
  17. Come see the Mark Twain House all decorated for Christmastime. 
  18. Santa goes out to see at the Festival of Lights Parade (a parade by boat!) in Groton, CT.
  19. The smell of homemade Orange Spiced Pommander Balls, a New England colonial tradition. 
  20. On a clear winter night, my family would all pile into the car, turn up the heat and the Christmas music, and drive around the best neighborhoods to see all the creative holiday lights. As a kid, this was one of my favorite family traditions around Christmas, often because we would go out on a school night! 

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