Holiday Happenings

Below we have a list of upcoming Holiday happenings around the Great Hartford area – some have already started. Events listed here are typically events that run for several weeks. Most one-time events you will find listed in our weekly articles. Check back as we update often. Plan ahead by clicking here for last year’s Holiday edition.


Holiday Family Programming never got better – check out!


Friday, November 27 – Sunday, December 20 with hours on Friday 5-9pm, Saturday & Sunday 4-9pm: Holiday Lights at Lake Compounce The park will be covered in lights, thousands of bulbs and spectacular light shows every half hour set to music. A selection of children’s and family rides will be open. Adults $11.99 per person (online, $15.99 at the gate, children (4-10) $11.99 each and children 3 and under are free. Click here to purchase your tickets.


Friday, November 27 – Wednesday December 23 with shows Tuesday – Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday – Saturday at 8pm, Saturday at 4pm, Sunday at 2:30 and 6:30pm: Christmas on the Rocks It’s Christmas Eve in a rundown local bar. Expecting a silent night, the bartender finds himself mixing drinks for a parade of surprising guests – children from your favorite Christmas specials and movies – now all grown up! Tiny Tim, Charlie Brown, Cindy Lou Who and a host of others pour out their Christmas woes in this delightful parody.

Christmas on the Rocks is a must-see show for every parent! In a 90 minute production, you will laugh your a*s off so hard that your kid(s) will automatically fall on the nice list by the time you get home. Get your holiday classics in (a twisted way) before ABC launches their 25 days of Christmas! Charlie Brown, Cindy Lou and Clara were a huge hoot! Take some much deserved parental time out (PTO) and this is the perfect production for it. – Momford

Friday, November 27 – Thursday, December 24: Santa Claus Comes to Stew’s! Santa will make regular appearances at the store from 3 – 6pm Monday through Friday and from 11am – 6pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Friday, November 27 – Sunday, November 29 {Runs until Sunday, December 20} from 5-9pm: WinterFest That delightful and magical season of WinterFest is soon upon us. The Connecticut Trolley Museum once again pushes the limits to treat you and yours to an evening of entertainment and seasonal exhilaration! Ride the antique traction through the “Tunnel of Lights” tripping on our open electrical chariot (The Montréaler) or another open car – 3 miles of cool breezes under the starlit heavens. Or cozy down in an enclosed trolley for the warmer, dashing through the snow, rail trip. Stroll through the Teresalee Bertinuson Visitor Center where the functioning and enchanting model train layouts will take your mind on a flight of fancy. The “halls are decked” with the proverbial “boughs of holly” and there are enough decorations to satisfy any souls need for visual Holiday splendor. The youngsters can sit on Santa’s lap and receive a gift. The best part is the cost. You can do and see so much for so little and all while your dollars go right back into trolley-restoration and Museum upkeep that will keep us moving forward.


Now until Thursday, December 24 with hours on Monday – Saturday from 10am – 9pm and Sunday from 11am – 6pm: Westfarms to Celebrate the Holidays with Beloved ‘Peanuts Gang’ To celebrate the launch of The Peanuts Movie, in theaters everywhere, a special family-friendly holiday experience is being offered exclusively at Westfarms. Developed in partnership with 20th Century Fox, the iconic Peanuts characters will take center stage within its unique, interactive Ice Palace. The indoor holiday display will feature a 30-foot dome complete with falling snow, a light show and other activities for the entire family. In addition, kids can watch special scenes from the new movie, create and compare their icy handprint alongside Snoopy and Woodstock, have their photo taken with a life-size graphic of Snoopy and his dog house and much more. Westfarms will also offer the opportunity for families to visit with Santa Claus as part of the Ice Palace experience. Those who visit Santa will receive a complimentary gift. Westfarms Center Court, West Hartford.

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Visiting Santa is now easier than ever at The Shoppes at Buckland Hills! Skip the line and save 30% or more when you make a reservation to visit Santa. Reserve your time through Thursday, December 24. Sunday, November 22, Sunday, November 29 and Sunday, December 6 from 10:30 – 12pm: Caring Claus A sensory-friednly Santa Claus experience. Pet Nights: Monday, November 30 from 6 – 8pm, Monday, December 7 from 6 – 8pm, and Monday, December 14 from 6 – 8pm.


Now until Sunday, January 24 daily from 11am-8pm with special hours on holidays: Winterfest Hartford Free ice skating and skate rentals return to Bushnell Park. Learn to skate program on Saturdays at 10am. Children under the age of sixteen must be accompanied by an adult. Winterfest wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Santa, so head over to the Carousel and have your photo taken with him for free. Each family receives 1 free 5×7 photo; additional prints may be purchased online. Santa will be in his new workshop at the Carousel for photos on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-3 through December 20 with special evening hours on 11/21 and 11/27.


Now through Friday, January 1: Let It Snow: A Christmas Musical Journey in the Planetarium combines animated holiday images with classic Christmas music under the Travelers Science Dome. This is a family-friendly program and perfect for all ages.

Friday, November 27 – Saturday, December 12 {Closed Tuesdays – Wednesdays} Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10am – 8pm and Saturdays – Sundays from 10am – 6pm: Gingerbread Festival The Wood will once again deck its halls and throw open its doors for one of the largest Gingerbread House Festivals in all of New England. Local artisans and bakers, experts and beginners alike show off their creative talents in a vast array of candy covered houses, trains and in some cases entire villages. With holiday music playing in the background and the spicy aroma of gingerbread in the air, the library provides the perfect holiday venue for showcasing the sugary artistic creations. “Ye Olde Gingerbread Shop” offers the opportunity to take home a bit of the magic with many holiday themed gifts and treats. This festival is a major fundraiser for The Wood and supports our educational programs and exhibitions. Be sure to mark your calendars to start the holidays off right with a classic seasonal event that is fun for both the young and the young at heart!

Now until Sunday, December 13 with hours on Saturday – Wednesday from 10am-4pm and Thursday – Friday from 10am – 8pm {Friday, December 11 until 9pm and December 13 until 5pm}: Gallery of Trees

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Friday, November 27 – Sunday, December 27: A Christmas Carol The magic of Charles Dickens’ heart-warming classic returns for its 18th season. Come see Connecticut’s favorite family holiday tradition and spend some time with Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, Ebenezer Scrooge, Jacob Marley and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as they bring A Christmas Carol to life on stage. Running time: Approximately 1 hour, 45 minutes with one intermission. Recommended ages: 8 and up. Ticket Prices: $25-85.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015 at 7pm: Sensory Friendly Performance of A Christmas Carol Hartford Stage will host a sensory-friendly performance of its annual holiday classic, A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas. Sensory-friendly performances are designed to create a theatre experience that is welcoming to all families of children with autism or other disabilities that create sensory sensitivities.

Thursday, November 26 – Friday, January 1 with hours of Sunday – Thursday from 5-9pm and Friday-Saturday from 5-10pm: Holiday Light Fantasia is a much loved Greater Hartford tradition and this season’s destination. The 2-mile show transforms Goodwin Park into a drive-through wonderland of holiday spirit with a beautiful collection of over 1 million lights. Whimsical holiday scenes, familiar characters and local tributes shine bright in larger-than-life lighted scenes and 200 individual displays.  Lighted animations celebrate not only Christmas, but Hanukkah, New Years and Three Kings Day. Come visit Santa Saturday and Sundays in the park Clubhouse from 5pm – 8pm. Admission $15 per car. Click here for a $3 off coupon. Military Appreciation Night on Tuesday, December. Free admission to veterans and active service personnel when they show a valid military or veteran association issued ID.

Friday, November 27 – Sunday, January 31: Hill-Stead for the Holidays You’ll feel like an invited guest when you tour the country house, decorated for the holidays. Immerse yourself in the Pope family’s holiday celebrations.  View objects from family archives as well as decorations inspired by early 20th century traditions.  Regular tour hours – Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10 am to 4 pm.

Monday, November 23 – Wednesday, January 6: 44th Annual Hartford Festival of Light Hartford Festival of Light has become a not-to-be-missed event for the thousands who turn out on Constitution Plaza each year to sing carols, enjoy musical entertainment and witness the spectacle that is the illumination of more than a quarter of a million tiny white lights.

Friday, December 4 – Sunday, December 13 {Closed Monday-Tuesday, December  7-8} 42nd Annual Festival of Trees & Traditions Celebrate the holiday season at the 42nd Annual Festival of Trees & Traditions! Enjoy musical entertainment and festive family activities while surrounded by decorative trees and wreaths created by community organizations and local artists. Established in 1973 by the Women’s Committee as a museum fundraising event, Festival of Trees & Traditions has become an annual holiday custom for visitors from throughout the state and beyond. Every year community members, artists and organizations decorate holiday trees and wreaths to be displayed in the galleries throughout the week. All items are for sale, and profits help fund the museum’s special exhibitions, educational programs, and operating expenses. Purchase a tree or wreath for your home or donate it to a local charity. A $3 fundraising surcharge is added to all regular admissions during Festival of Trees and Traditions. Santa & Mrs. Claus: Sunday, December 6 from 10:30am-1:30pm, Saturday, December 12 from 2-5pm and Sunday, December 12 from 10:30am – 1:30pm. 

Saturday, December 5 – Sunday, December 20 at 8:30, 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30am: Breakfast with Santa Breakfast Includes: a hearty breakfast with pancakes, home fries, sausage and farm fresh eggs, a memorable visit with Santa, Mrs. Claus, Elves, Frosty and the Grinch, a toy from Santa, a relaxing time on a Christmas Trolley ride out to reindeer land and a free visit to the petting zoo. We will be offering a “No Grinch” seating each weekend (12/5 at 8:30), (12/13 at 11:30) and (12/19 at 8:30). Ticket Prices: $2 per person.

Friday and Saturday, December 18 and 19, from 5 – 8pm and Saturdays, December 12 – January 3 from 10am – 4pm and Sundays, from 1 – 4pm: Three Centuries of Christmas The 2015 season kicks off with the lively Webb-Deane-Stevens Holiday Preview Party on Friday, December 11, from 5 to 8pm. Guests will delight in a candlelight preview of the dazzling holiday decorations throughout the museum, stroll from house to house enjoying delicious food, wine, ale, and live holiday music, and chat with Mr. and Mrs. Silas Deane, Mrs. Claus, and guides in period dress. Admission is $30 at the door. Evening-candlelight tours of the three elegantly appointed, historic houses—featuring guides in period dress sharing the fascinating history of Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is $12 adult, $6 children, $28 family (2 adults, 2 children).


Friday, December 11 – Sunday, December 20 with hours on Friday – Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2pm: The Nutcracker The Hartt School Community Division (HCD) presents its annual holiday production Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker and this year’s production promises magical storytelling and vivid dancing with a newly choreographed second act. Ticket prices: $30 for adults, $20 for students, $15 children 12 and under. 

Saturday, December 12 through Wednesday, December 23 with hours on weekends from 1-5pm and weekdays from 3-6pm: 31st Annual Santa’s Workshop A free event sponsored by Wickham Park. Children of all ages enjoy visits with Santa and his elves and refreshments with Mrs. Claus. Santa’s Workshop provides a chance for children to enjoy an uncommercialized Christmas experience. Guests are welcome to bring non-perishable food items to be donated to area food pantries.

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