Wherever you are there is holiday fun

Parades and performances, fairs and crèches, food and music and merriment

(Dan Cutrona/Falmouth Chamber of Commerce)
By Ellen Albanese
Globe Correspondent / November 28, 2010

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Holiday time is family time, and in New England we have a nearly limitless choice of events to celebrate the season. Here’s a random selection, ranging from the traditional — think trains and tree lightings — to the quirky — a parade that honors the inventor of earmuffs.


26th annual Festival of Trees, through Jan. 2, Pittsfield, 413-443-7171, Festive trees decorated by community organizations, businesses, and schoolchildren at the Berkshire Museum. This year’s theme is “Storybook Forest.’’ Regular museum admission.

Bright Nights at Forest Park, through Feb. 2, Springfield, www.brightnights .org. Over 600,000 lights, along a 2 1/2-mile route through Forest Park. Popular exhibits include Seuss Land (in honor of Springfield native Theodor Geisel), Jurassic World, the Garden of Peace, Victorian Village, Toy Land, and North Pole Village. $15-$18 per auto.

Festival of Lights at La Salette Shrine, through Feb. 2, Attleboro, 408-222-5410, More than 300,000 lights illuminating 10 acres 5-9 p.m. daily. Free. Trolley available Friday-Sunday $3 per person.

35th First Night Boston, Dec. 31, 888-733-2678, The country’s oldest and largest New Year’s arts celebration includes music, dance, ice sculpture, and fireworks. Over 1,000 artists in 200 exhibitions and performances in 35 locations. First Night button $18.

First Night Chatham, Dec. 30-31, The town-wide two-day family event includes a parade, circus, and fireworks. Buttons $15 until Christmas, $18 after.


Christmas at the Mansions, through Jan. 2, Newport, 401-847-1000, Tours and visits from Santa at The Breakers, The Elms, and Marble House. All three mansions: adults $28, children 6-17 $9. On selected evenings guests can enjoy refreshments and live music.


Old-Fashioned Christmas at Hildene, Dec. 1-31, Manchester, 802-362-1788, Step back in time at the Lincoln family home. Wreath-making, tree trimming, and carols played on Robert and Mary Lincoln’s organ on Saturdays and Sundays.

First Night, Dec. 31, Burlington, Dance, music, theater, and more. Adult buttons $18, children 3-12 $5.


North Pole Express at Essex Steam Train, through Dec. 31, Essex, 860-767-0103, A trip on a vintage train to the North Pole to pick up Santa and Mrs. Claus, trackside displays, sugar cookies, and hot chocolate. $25-$50.

23rd annual Holiday Gilbert Train Exhibition, through Jan. 9, Hamden, 203-777-1833, A.C. Gilbert trains on display at the Eli Whitney Museum. Free.

18th-Century Neapolitan Crèche, through Jan. 9, Bethlehem, 203-266-7727, Housed in a barn at the Abbey of Regina Laudis, the recently restored Neapolitan crèche contains 68 figures 14 to 16 inches high dressed in their original costumes. Daily 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. (The crèche reopens for the rest of the year on Easter Sunday.)

Sixth annual Christmas Crèche Exhibit, through Feb. 13, New Haven, 203-865-0400, More than 100 crèches (or nativities) from 22 Asian countries on display. Free.

Gingerbread Village, Dec. 4-11, Middlebury, 203-758-9557. More than 60 buildings, with horse and sleigh teams, ponds, boats, and sledders. This year’s theme is storybooks. Call for times. Free.

Ellen Albanese can be reached at