What a holiday way to go

Events from seaside to countryside to mountainside to keep your spirits light until the new year

By Neece Regis
Globe Correspondnet / November 27, 2011
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Ready or not, here they come. The holidays are nigh, and between shopping, cooking, and travel plans, amid the ribbons and bows, the latkes and candy canes, there are plenty of events to enjoy during this festive season.

Gingerbread House Workshops, Concord

Calling all architecture buffs with a sweet tooth: six Gingerbread House Workshops are being offered at Verrill Farm in December. Each participant will receive an assembled, undecorated gingerbread house, along with frosting and candy, including gumdrops, peppermints, and candy canes. Reservations are required, and an adult must accompany all children under 10. Novices need not worry: Farmstand chefs will be on hand to offer decorating tips. We guess the first tip will be, “Don’t eat the decorations.’’ Dec. 4 (Sun) and Dec. 10 (Sat); 9:30, 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., Verrill Farm, 11 Wheeler Road, 978-369-4494,, $35 per person

The Nutcracker Ice Cream Tea, Boston

If you are heading to this year’s production of “The Nutcracker’’ at the Boston Opera House, stop by Kingston Station Restaurant, a neighborhood bistro with this special seasonal offering. You won’t see any sugar plums at this version of high tea, though you will find something better: a do-it-yourself sundae bar with homemade ice cream, assorted toppings, and holiday cookies. The ice cream flavors reflect the season: peppermint stick, gingerbread, eggnog, and hot chocolate. No sweet tooth? No worries. Theatergoers can order an assortment of 30-minute quick-service items, including child-friendly burgers, grilled cheese, and tomato soup. Nov. 26-Dec. 18, 25 Kingston St., 617-482-6282,, adults $20, children $10

Jingle Bell Chocolate Tour, Jackson, N.H.

There is nothing that says winter wonderland like a horse-drawn sleigh ride through a New England village bedecked with ribbons and sparkly lights. Add chocolate to the mix, and it’s holiday heaven. This tour starts at the Nestlenook Estate, where visitors receive a jingle bell and chocolate and snuggle under blankets on a sleigh. Holiday music serenades the tour as it crosses a historic covered bridge and proceeds into Jackson Village. At each stop along the route, local shops, restaurants, and inns dole out homemade chocolate treats. “Honestly, it’s just magical,’’ said Kathleen Driscoll, executive director of the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce. New this year: the “Jingle Bell Chocolate Tour Recipe Book.’’ Nov. 26, 27, Dec. 3, 4, 10 and 17. All aboard at Nestlenook Estate & Resort, 66 Dinsmore Road, reservations: 603-383-9356,, $20, children on laps not taking chocolates are free

8th annual SoWa Holiday Market, Boston

Billed as a “handmade holiday spectacular,’’ this is a juried fair featuring over 80 artists and designers from all over New England. Think of it as the best-of-the-best array of gifts made by the region’s most talented practitioners. Located in the SoWa district in the South End, you are sure to find something for the most discerning hipster on your list. Choose from indie handbags, chic jewelry, fanciful (yet practical) pottery, baby clothes for Gen-Z infants, letterpress stationery, silk-screened T-shirts, repurposed wool accessories, and more. Dec. 10, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Cathedral High School, 74 Union Park St.,, free

Santa Special at the Essex Steam Train, Essex, Conn.

Santa and Mrs. Claus make a special appearance every weekend in December on the train. Climb aboard vintage rail cars bedecked with festive holiday decorations and settle in for a one-hour ride through the scenic Connecticut River Valley. An authentic steam locomotive pulls the train, and Rudolph and Pablo the Penguin will be on board spreading holiday cheer. Children receive a small holiday gift from Santa’s elves and have their own photo-op with Santa. December weekends, 1, 2:30 p.m. plus 11:30 a.m. on Sat, One Railroad Alley, 860-767-0103,, $20-$40, children under 2 sitting on laps are free

Holly Folly Weekend Provincetown

Put on your glitter and gold lame and head to Provincetown. Touted as “the world’s only GLBT holiday festival,’’ this three-day event takes place all along Commercial Street, where one-of-a-kind shops and galleries offer holiday gifts you won’t find at the mall. Now in its 15th year, Holly Folly also features holiday light competitions, toy drives, tree trimmings, cookie parties, photo-ops with Santa and Mrs. Claus, singalongs, karaoke, parties, seasonal food and drink, and a performance by the Boston Gay Men’s Choir at Town Hall. Don’t miss the two-story-tall lobster trap tree in Lopes Square, made from more than 100 traps and lighted with thousands of lights. Dec. 2-4, Holly Folly Headquarters located at Old Firehouse, 256 Commercial St., 508-487-2313,, free parking in municipal lots, event prices vary

Christmas at the Newport Mansions, Newport, R.I.

Three of Newport’s grandest historic houses, bedecked in their finest Yuletide finery, are open for touring every day - except Christmas - from now through Jan. 2. A Winter Passport ticket gets you into all three: The Breakers, The Elms, and Marble House. Each mansion’s Christmas trees are decorated with period-style ornaments, and other wintry decorations include dozens of wreaths, hundreds of yards of garland, and thousands of flowers, including poinsettias, lilies, and roses. New features this season include a custom-made Nativity scene in the Gold Room of Marble House, with figures dressed in gold, green, and ivory fabric that match the window coverings and upholstery. Nov. 19-Jan. 2, The Preservation Society of Newport County, 424 Bellevue Ave., 401-847-1000,, Winter Passport $28, $9 for children ages 6-17, under 6 free

Moo Shu Jew, Boston

Oy! On Christmas eve in Boston, what’s a poor member of the Jewish tribe to do? How about Jewish inspired stand-up comedy dished up alongside a five-course, pork-free Chinese banquet? If this scenario brings a smile to your lips (and a rumble in your tummy) head to Hei La Moon in Chinatown for an evening of Moo Shu Jew. The sponsor of this show, the New Center for Arts and Culture, says it best: “This messhuggena show was created for Jews to enjoy at Christmas time, where Jews feel most at home, in a Chinese restaurant!’’ Featured comedians include Jim David from Comedy Central, Cory Kahaney from Last Comic Standing, Ross Bennett from Sirius Blue Collar Radio, and Ophira Eisenberg, host of The Moth. Dec. 24, 6 p.m., Hei La Moon, 88 Beach St., reservations: 617-531-4610,, $65, young adults (under 39) $40

An Old Fashioned Christmas Bath, Maine

For a newfangled spin on tradition, head to Bath and hop on the Christmas Carol Trolley. This rolling song-a-thon is part of a month of festivities. For two hours every Friday evening in December, the trolley picks up riders at City Hall. “They go through the historic district where the houses are all lit up. It’s very cute,’’ said Jennifer Geiger, director of On Dec. 16, downtown merchants and restaurants stay open late and welcome visitors with festive holiday music and refreshments. Cast your vote for the best decorated storefront window and you might win a gift basket. Dec. 2, 9, 16, and 23, 207-442-7291,, free

Cotton Mill Open Studio and Holiday Sale, Brattleboro

Kick off the holidays at this 11th annual open studio and sale. The three-day event celebrates the arts and the spirit of the season with live music provided by the Vermont Jazz Center, trapeze artists, glass-blowing demonstrations, dance performances, and features the work of over 50 artists and small businesses. Think of it as a multi-ring circus located under one roof, a 145,000-square-foot renovated mill building dating to 1910. Shop for holiday gifts while meeting the artists who created them. You will find paintings, pottery, toys, furniture, garden sculpture, jewelry, books, jams, granola, candles, and more at this once-a-year extravaganza. Dec. 2 (10 a.m.-7 p.m.), Dec. 3 (10-6), Dec. 4 (10-5), 74 Cotton Mill Hill, 802-257-7731,, free admission and parking

Necee Regis can be reached at

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