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Out & About | Best New England Holiday Events for 2019

From dancing toys to skiing Santas, these New England holiday events are worth the drive.

By Yankee Magazine

Oct 24 2019

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Best New England Holiday Events for 2019

Photo Credit : Marina French/Sunday River
Ditching a sleigh in favor of a quad lift, Santas of every stripe mount to the sky at Maine’s Sunday River ski resort.
Photo Credit : Marina French/Sunday River

Best New England Holiday Events 2019

CONNECTICUT Stamford Downtown Parade Spectacular | Nov. 24

One of the largest helium balloon parades in the country, this yearly tradition features giant inflatable versions of favorite characters, award-winning marching bands, and fabulous floats. Stamford, CT.stamford-downtown.com

MASSACHUSETTS Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas | Dec. 6–8

The town made famous by a Norman Rockwell holiday painting hosts a weekend of festivities, including holiday readings, house tours, caroling, and concerts starting on Friday evening and leading up to Sunday’s re-creation of Rockwell’s timeless painting Main Street at Christmas. Stockbridge, MA. 413-298-5200;stockbridgechamber.org

MAINE Santa Sunday at Sunday River | Dec. 8

Some 300 skiers and snowboarders are expected to turn out in full Kris Kringle regalia—white beard and all—as part of Sunday River’s whimsical community fund-raiser. Check the website to learn how to join their ranks, or just show up to enjoy the spectacle of schussing Santas. Newry, ME. 207-824-3000; sundayriver.com

RHODE ISLAND The Nutcracker | Dec. 13–15

Continuing a local tradition of more than 40 years, Festival Ballet Providence brings Tchaikovsky’s famous holiday ballet to the PPAC stage. Beautiful sets, elegant choreography, and world-class dancers converge to tell the beloved story of a young girl named Clara and her magical prince. Providence, RI.401-421-2787;ppacri.org

VERMONT Winter Wassail Weekend | Dec. 13–15

Postcard-perfect Woodstock plays host to a jam-packed weekend that includes concerts, a breakfast with Santa, historic house tours, and lots of activities for children, but the don’t-miss highlight is the parade of more than 50 horses and riders dressed in holiday costumes and period dress. Woodstock, VT.802-457-3555; woodstockvt.com

NEW HAMPSHIRE Capital Jazz Orchestra Holiday Pops | Dec. 22

At the Capitol Center for the Arts’ historic Chubb Theatre, the Capital Jazz Orchestra makes merry with special guests Laura Daigle and C.J. Poole, as well as NHPR’s Laura Knoy, who will recite “The Night Before Christmas.” An audience sing-along helps everyone get into the spirit. Concord, NH.603-225-1111; ccanh.com

Additional New England Holiday Events for 2019

CONNECTICUT

NOV. 2–3: RIDGEFIELD,American Craftsmen Show. This fund-raiser for the historical Lounsbury House, which also hosts the show, puts the spotlight on nationally acclaimed and award-winning artists. Featured works include pottery, wood carvings, painted furniture, textiles, and holiday folk art. 203-438-6962; lounsburyhouse.org

NOV. 9–10: WESTPORT,CraftWestport. Held at Staples High School, the state’s longest-running indoor fine craft event draws 200 talented artists and crafters from across the country and includes a pop-up marketplace devoted to Connecticut wares. artrider.com

NOV. 29–DEC. 8: HARTFORD, Festival of Trees and Traditions. Find decorating inspiration—or just buy some impeccable examples to take home—at this Wadsworth Athenaeum fund-raising event. One-of-a-kind decorated trees and wreaths are displayed in the galleries, and all are for sale; music, kids’ activities, and visits from Santa keep things lively. 860-278-2670; thewadsworth.org

NOV. 29–DEC. 21: SOUTH WINDSOR,Gingerbread House Festival Extravaganza. Follow the spicy aroma of gingerbread to the Wood Memorial Library and Museum and discover magnificent candy-covered creations brought to life by local artisans and bakers. Many are for sale, along with other holiday-themed gifts and treats. 860-289-1783; woodmemoriallibrary.org

NOV. 29–DEC. 22: MYSTIC,Lantern Light Tours. Mystic Seaport’s popular holiday offering combines a walking tour with an original holiday play that unfolds at various stops along the way. Each performance lasts approximately 70 minutes and covers roughly half a mile of uneven terrain. Note: Audience members walk or stand for the majority of the show, so comfortable footwear is a must. Offered on Friday, Saturday, and select Sunday evenings; see website for details. mysticseaport.org

NOV. 29–DEC. 29: EAST WINDSOR,Winterfest and the Tunnel of Lights. Friday through Sunday, ride the rails at the Connecticut Trolley Museum and join the motormen in singing traditional carols as you glide through the “Tunnel of Lights” display. Afterward, warm up with some cocoa in the visitor center, where you can get a photo op with Santa. 860-627-6540; ct-trolley.org

DEC. 4–28: CHESTER,”A Connecticut Christmas Carol.” Mark Twain, P.T. Barnum, and other local legends have roles to play in this version of Dickens’s classic tale, created especially for Goodspeed Musicals and staged at the Terris Theatre. 860-873-8668; goodspeed.org

DEC. 6–7: BETHLEHEM,Christmas Town Festival. O little town of Bethlehem … where thousands make an annual pilgrimage to secure the perfect Christmas-card postmark. At festival time, the town green is transformed with 70-plus vendors offering fine crafts and good food, live music, kids’ activities, hayrides, and photos with Santa. 203-266-7510; christmastownfestival.com

DEC. 7: WOODBURY,Open House and Holiday Boutique. Tour the charming c. 1750 Glebe House while it’s beautifully decorated for the holidays with wreaths, holiday lighting, and garlands—all for sale. A shopping bazaar offers many original gift ideas, too. 203-263-2855; glebehousemuseum.org

DEC. 14–15: NEW LONDON,“The Nutcracker.” The venerable holiday ballet gets a Nutmeg State twist in this Eastern Connecticut Ballet production at the Garde Arts Center. Set in New London in the 1850s, the story plays out against a backdrop of tall ships, lighthouses, and other whaling-era icons. 860-444-7373, ext. 1; easternctballet.org

DEC. 14–FEB. 9: SALISBURY,“Wonders of Winter.” Spotlighting more than 20 prominent artists from the U.S. and overseas, this exhibit of winter sports art spans four venues in town, including the Salisbury Association’s Main Street headquarters. The show kicks off with an art walk 4–7 p.m. on Dec. 14. A portion of sale proceeds will benefit the Salisbury Winter Sports Association. 860-435-0566; salisburyassociation.org

DEC. 19: NEW HAVEN, Holiday Extravaganza: A Classical Christmas. Join the New Haven Symphony for a celebration sure to lift the spirits as it performs seasonal favorites like “White Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland” and leads a Christmas carol sing-along. 203-865-0831; newhavensymphony.org

DEC. 22: MYSTIC, Community Carol Sing. At this Mystic Seaport tradition for more than seven decades, music lovers from near and far gather for a holiday concert in the Greenmanville Church followed by an everybody-join-in carol sing at McGraw Quadrangle. Admission is a nonperishable food item to help feed the hungry. 860-572-0711; mysticseaport.org

DEC. 31: HARTFORD, First Night. This family-friendly fete marks its 30th year of giving revelers a reason to head to downtown Hartford to ring in the new year. This year’s schedule is still being finalized, but past iterations have featured such activities as carriage rides, ice skating, improv shows, jazz concerts, kids’ craft sessions, and fireworks over Bushnell Park. firstnighthartford.org

MAINE

NOV. 2–3: PORTLAND,Maine Yiddish Culture Festival. The Maine Jewish Film Festival presents this first-ever Yiddish cultural celebration. On Saturday, enjoy the sounds of klezmer music during an evening concert at One Longfellow Square; on Sunday, head to the Jewish Community Alliance for a music and storytelling program for children, lectures, and a screening of Chewdaism, a film by YidLife Crisis. 207-523-3422; mjff.org

NOV. 2–3: WELLS,League of Maine Craft Show. Sixty crafters and artists will gather at Wells Junior High School to exhibit, demonstrate, and sell handcrafted items ranging from stained glass to pottery to jewelry. 207-646-5172; summersolsticecraftshows.com

NOV. 14–DEC. 31: BOOTHBAY,Gardens Aglow. Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens presents the largest light display in Maine, with some 650,000 LEDs woven through 14 acres of gardens, plus a s’mores pit and special art exhibits. 207-633-8000; mainegardens.org

NOV. 16: PORTLAND, Kids Con. New England’s largest comic-con for kids comes to the DoubleTree Portland, with appearances by comic and children’s book authors and artists, creative workshops, gaming, costume contests, and special guest Jim Lawson of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame. kidsconne.com

NOV. 23–24: BANGOR, Maine Harvest Festival. At the Cross Insurance Center, celebrate all that is local and farm-fresh with tastings and cooking demonstrations led by Maine chefs and cookbook authors, plus live music, wine and beer samples, and a signature two-crusted apple pie competition. 207-561-8300; maineharvestfestival.com

NOV. 29–DEC. 1: ROCKLAND,Festival of Lights. Santa arrives by boat to kick off festivities highlighted by the illumination of a lobster-trap Christmas tree billed as the world’s largest. Among the other enticements are horse-drawn wagon rides, a parade, a bonfire, and caroling. 207-593-6093;rocklandmainstreet.com

NOV. 29–DEC. 8: PORTLAND,The Nutcracker.” Maine State Ballet brings the beauty and joy of the season with its classic production at Merrill Auditorium. 207-842-0800; mainestateballet.org

NOV. 29–JAN. 5: PORTLAND,Christmas at Victoria Mansion. Built in 1860 as a summer house for hotel magnate Ruggles Sylvester Morse, Victoria Mansion in all its holiday glory is a highlight of Portland’s seasonal happenings. Step back into the Victorian era and enjoy the lavish decorations and guided tour. 207-772-4841; victoriamansion.org

NOV. 30: YORK,Lighting of the Nubble. Come see the iconic lighthouse illuminated for the holidays. There will be music, hot cocoa, and cookies, and word has it that Santa himself will make an appearance as well. Shuttles will run between York High School and Sohier Park. 207-363-1040; yorkparksandrec.org

DEC. 6–8: FREEPORT,Sparkle Weekend. From the Parade of Lights on Main Street to the L.L. Bean Northern Lights Celebration, this has become one of Maine’s most popular seasonal events. Free activities abound, including visits with Santa, horse-drawn carriage rides, holiday movies, rides aboard the Amtrak Downeaster, and a tuba Christmas concert. sparklecelebration.com

DEC. 7: FARMINGTON, Chester Greenwood Day. Don your earmuffs in honor of their inventor, Farmington’s own Chester Greenwood, and head downtown for the big parade, gingerbread house contest, buggy rides, caroling, food and crafts, and historical open houses. 207-778-4215; franklincountymaine.org

DEC. 7: NEW GLOUCESTER,Shaker Christmas Fair. Experience nostalgic holiday traditions at Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, the country’s only active Shaker community. You can get some shopping done, too, since gift items such as baked goods, knit items, ornaments, balsam wreaths, woodenware, candy, and jams are available for purchase. 207-926-4597; maineshakers.com

DEC. 7–8: PORTLAND, United Maine Craftsmen Holiday Arts & Crafts Show. Discover handcrafted presents and stocking stuffers from the wares of some 100 local artisans at the USM Sullivan Gym. 207-621-2818; unitedmainecraftsmen.com

DEC. 12–15, 20–22: PORTLAND, Magic of Christmas Concert. The Portland Symphony Orchestra fills Merrill Auditorium with cherished sounds of the season. 207-842-0800;portlandsymphony.org

DEC. 13–15: OGUNQUIT, Christmas by the Sea Celebration. Ogunquit’s village center provides an idyllic background for an annual celebration that includes a parade, storytellers, musicians, wine tastings, a craft fair, and visits to Santa’s village, as well as the lighting of the town Christmas tree. 207-646-2939; visitogunquit.org

DEC. 14: ORONO, Maine Indian Basketmakers Holiday Market. The University of Maine’s Hudson Museum plays host to the largest holiday gathering of Maine Indian artists in New England. Purchase exquisite crafts directly from the makers and enjoy a day of demonstrations, storytelling, traditional music, drumming, and dancing. 207-581-1904; umaine.edu/hudsonmuseum

DEC. 14–15: BOOTHBAY HARBOR, Gingerbread Spectacular. The deliciously competitive gingerbread contest returns to the Opera House, where a confectioner’s dream lineup of castles, cabins, and other creations will be on display. The accompanying holiday bake sale is sure to delight your sweet tooth. boothbayoperahouse.com

DEC. 17, 21, 22:PORTLAND & WESTBROOK,A Victorian Nutcracker.” Set in Portland in the late 1800s and with characters inspired by city residents of yore, this Portland Ballet production has become a can’t-miss family show. More than 80 children from the community will join the company dancers onstage. Dec. 17 at Merrill Auditorium; Dec. 21–22 at Westbrook Performing Arts Center. 207-772-9671; portlandballet.org

DEC. 23: PORTLAND,Christmas with Kennerley. James Kennerley, Portland’s official municipal organist, performs Christmas favorites on the c. 1911 Kotzschmar Organ at Merrill Auditorium. Joining in are special guests soprano Malinda Hasslett, the Kotzschmar Festival Brass, and the ChoralArt singers. 207-553-4363; foko.org

DEC. 31: BATH,Paul Revere Bell Ringing. Sing out the old and ring in the new—it’s a New Year’s Eve noontime tradition as folks gather at the Hallett’s Drug Store clock across from City Hall to sing “Auld Land Syne of Bath” as a lead-in to the ringing of Bath’s 1802 Paul Revere bell. 207-442-7291; visitbath.com

MASSACHUSETTS

NOV. 1–3: FRANKLIN COUNTY,CiderDays. Celebrate all things apples with a weekend of orchard tours, cider-making demonstrations and tastings, workshops, and more. Events take place all over Franklin County, from Shelburne Falls and Greenfield down to Deerfield, so check the website for details. 413-773-5463; ciderdays.org

NOV. 2–28: STURBRIDGE,A New England Thanksgiving. Offered on weekends and on Thanksgiving Day, this program lets you experience the traditions of an early 19th-century New England Thanksgiving while learning about 1830s dining etiquette and watching villagers compete in a post-dinner target shoot. Smell the scents of roasted turkey and pies warming by the fire, learn about Native American food traditions and customs, and more. 800-733-1830;osv.org

NOV. 8–9: REHOBOTH,Folk Art and Artisans Show. This annual event at Francis Farm draws 70 exhibitors displaying their finely crafted wares just in time for holiday shopping. 508-252-3031; carpentermuseum.org

NOV. 8–10: BOSTON,Christmas Festival. Come for the shopping opportunities—crafts, clothing, specialty foods, etc.—at the 350-plus pop-up boutiques at the Seaport World Trade Center, but stick around to ogle the gingerbread gems created by top Boston pastry chefs vying for “Best in Show” honors. 561-465-3676;bostonchristmasfestival.com

NOV. 9–10: COLRAIN,Crafts of Colrain: An Open Studio Art Tour. Begin at Pine Hill Orchards and continue through hill and dale in this picturesque area, whose artists and artisans open their studios to visitors. Celebrate the diversity of their work, see demonstrations of what they do, and perhaps find a treasure to take home. craftsofcolrain.com

NOV. 13: BOSTON,Stephen Greenblatt. The winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Swerve, Greenblatt recently published Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics. He appears at the New England Historic Genealogical Society as part of its “American Inspiration” series. 617-226-1215; americanancestors.org

NOV. 16–17: WEST SPRINGFIELD,OldDeerfield Holiday Sampler Craft Fair. This annual tradition brings some 200 artisans to the Eastern State Expo’s Better Living Center, where a wide range of crafts, collectibles, clothing, decorations, and jewelry will be on display. 413-774-7476; deerfield-craft.org

NOV. 22–24: MARLBOROUGH,Paradise City Arts Festival. Shop the distinctive works offered by 175 of the country’s most notable craft designers and artisans at Royal Plaza Trade Center—free parking, live jazz, and tasty dining options as well. 800-511-9725;paradisecityarts.com

NOV. 22–24: PLYMOUTH,America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Festival. See the history of Thanksgiving brought to life as Pilgrims, Native Americans, soldiers, patriots, and pioneers take to the streets of Plymouth. The weekend’s highlights include a parade, a harvest farmers’ market, a “portal to the past” historical village, a food festival, and concerts. 508-746-1818;usathanksgiving.com

NOV. 23–DEC. 8: SALISBURY,Sea Festival of Trees. A maze of sparkling holiday trees, stage and ice skating performances, visits with Santa, a giant gingerbread house, and more highlight this winter wonderland at the Blue Ocean Event Center on Salisbury Beach. 978-462-2512; seafestivaloftrees.com

NOV. 26–DEC. 22: LOWELL,“The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley.” The familiar characters of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice come to life on theMerrimack Repertory Theatre stage. Pemberley is in an uproar as an unwelcome visitor stumbles into the kitchen in the middle of the night: Mr. Darcy’s nemesis, Mr. Wickham. 978-654-4678; mrt.org

NOV. 27–JAN. 5: SPRINGFIELD,Bright Nights at Forest Park. One of the region’s largest holiday light shows offers the chance to drive a magical three-mile route through displays sparkling with over 650,000 bulbs. To get the full effect, tune your radio to the “Elf Radio” musical simulcast as you drive past the holiday scenes. 413-733-3800; brightnights.org

NOV. 28–29: PLYMOUTH,“The Story of Thanksgiving” Dinner. Make your plans early if you want to participate in this popular feast at Plimoth Plantation, where Pilgrim role-players and native interpreters will greet you and your family. Other dining options, including a Thanksgiving buffet, are offered throughout the day. 508-746-1622; plimoth.org

NOV. 29–30: WEST TISBURY,Vineyard Artisans Thanksgiving Festival. This shopping extravaganza at Agricultural Hall is the largest annual art show by islanders. Meet the artisans and buy one-of-a-kind and handmade items including sweaters, soaps, leather and vintage material bags, and wooden cutting boards. vineyardartisans.com

NOV. 29–DEC. 1: BOSTON, Handel’s Messiah. Come join the Handel & Haydn Society at Symphony Hall for this treasured holiday tradition. With critically acclaimed Baroque master Masaaki Suzuki on the podium, audiences will enjoy this masterpiece the way the composer intended, with dazzling vocal solos, spine-tingling instrumental fireworks, and some of the most glorious choral writing of all time. 617-266-3605; handelandhaydn.org

NOV. 29–DEC. 29: SANDWICH,Gardens Aglow. Fridays through Sundays during the holiday season, head to the historic Heritage Museums and Gardens to experience beautiful light displays and holiday décor, seasonal family fun, and a visit with Santa Claus in a 1913 Model T. 508-888-3300;heritagemuseumsandgardens.org

DEC. 5: COHASSET,Yuletide House Tour. Take a peek inside five delightful seaside homes decorated for the holidays during this Community Garden Club of Cohasset fund-raiser. communitygardenclubofcohasset.org

DEC. 6–8: FALMOUTH,Holidays by the Sea. Embrace the season with Friday-night caroling at Nobska Lighthouse in Woods Hole, followed by a weekend that includes a pancake breakfast and raffle, the arrival of Santa by brightly painted trawler, a 5K Jingle Jog, a stroll of Main Street shops, amusements and entertainment for kids, and a tree lighting on the village green. 508-548-8500; falmouthchamber.com

DEC. 6–8: IPSWICH,An Old-Fashioned Christmas at Castle Hill. Every room in the 1920s mansion on the Crane Estate dons its holiday best for three festive days that include tours, live music, a kids’ treasure hunt, and a visit with Santa. 978-356-4351, ext. 4015; thetrustees.org

DEC. 6–8:PROVINCETOWN, Holly Folly. From the Speedo run down Commercial Street to the antics of Drag Bingo, it’s joyfully obvious that this is no run-of-the-mill holiday celebration. Enjoy performances by the Gay Men’s Chorus, a chance to win prizes at the Shop Hop, and an open house of local inns decked out for the season and offering treats and libations. ptown.org/holly-folly

DEC. 6–29: STURBRIDGE, Christmas by Candlelight. Fridays through Sundays, historic Old Sturbridge Village invites you to experience the magic of a candlelit New England township while learning about the real history behind today’s Christmas traditions. Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride and indulge in warm gingerbread, hot cider, and roasted chestnuts while listening to stories, carols, and holiday music. Note: Also offered Monday, Dec. 23. 800-733-1830;osv.org

DEC. 7–8, 13–15, 19–22: CAMBRIDGE,Harvard Square Holiday Fair. Held in the lower hall at St. Paul’s Church on Mount Auburn Street, this juried fair features many wonderful gift items, and admission is free. 413-625-9779; harvardsquareholidayfair.com

DEC. 12–15: EDGARTOWN, Christmas in Edgartown. Enjoy the charms of Martha’s Vineyard in the winter with activities including a chowder contest, the lighting of the Edgartown Lighthouse, a Christmas parade, visits and photos with Santa, and other holiday-themed events. edgartownboardoftrade.com

DEC. 13–15: BOSTON,CraftBoston Holiday. Held at the Hynes Convention Center and packed with more than 175 exhibitors, CraftBoston Holiday is a must-attend event for artists, collectors, and craft enthusiasts. Among the handiwork on offer will be leather goods, furniture, glassware, and jewelry. 617-266-1810; societyofcrafts.org

DEC. 13–15, 19–23, 26–29: CAMBRIDGE, Christmas Revels. A tradition for nearly five decades, the Christmas Revels is a joyful theatrical celebration of the winter solstice showcasing world music, dance, folktales, and rituals. This year’s theme: the roots of American music. 617-496-2222; revels.org

NEW HAMPSHIRE

NOV. 2–3: STATEWIDE,Open Doors. Download the tour map and plan your path, meeting area artists and crafters in their studios, sampling local products, and overnighting at one of the state’s historic inns. nhopendoors.com

NOV. 23–24: BELMONT, Lakes Region Holiday Craft Fair. Gift buying is easy with 75 exhibitors presenting a wide selection of items, including jewelry, gourmet treats, décor, quilts, handbags, and photography at the Belknap Mall. Live music, good food, and a raffle benefiting animal rescue round out the fun. joycescraftshows.com

NOV. 23–24, 29–30, DEC. 1: MOULTONBOROUGH, Christmas at the Castle. Though its regular season ends in October, the Lakes Region estate known as Castle in the Clouds reopens for this popular event, which sees the Arts and Crafts manor decorated to the nines. 603-476-5900; castleintheclouds.org

NOV. 24: GREENLAND,Pie Festival and Craft Fair. This women’s club fund-raiser has grown into a pastry spectacular, now serving up some 550 delicious pies at the Greenland Central School. Enjoy the luncheon café (with pie, of course), more than 100 crafters and artisans, music, and a raffle. greenlandwomensclub.org

NOV. 29–DEC. 29: NORTH CONWAY AND LINCOLN,Journey to the North Pole. A fund-raiser for the Believe in Books Literacy Foundation, this two-hour train adventure in the White Mountains departs from either North Conway or Lincoln and takes families to visit Santa in his workshop. Departure schedules vary by location; see website for details. 603-356-9980; journeytothenorthpole.org

NOV. 28–JAN. 5: LOUDON,Gift of Lights. Some 520 displays of lights—glowing with 2.5 million LEDs—deck the halls at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which hosts this annual illuminated drive. Proceeds benefit local charities. Closed Dec. 2, 3, 9, and 10. 603-783-4931; nhms.com/giftoflights

NOV. 30: NASHUA,Winter Holiday Stroll. This much-anticipated day of merriment includes a candlelit procession down Main Street, the lighting of the city tree, tasty offerings from food vendors, an appareance by Santa and Mrs. Claus, and other diverse entertainment. downtownnashua.org

NOV. 30–DEC. 22: JACKSON,Jingle Bell Chocolate Tour. Get your tickets early for this weekends-only event, as it sells out earlier and earlier each year. Participants enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh through Jackson, sampling chocolate treats at stops along the way.jacksonnh.com

DEC. 7: EXETER,Holiday Parade. For more than 50 years, this parade has been bringing seasonal magic to the streets of downtown Exeter, with illuminated floats, horse-drawn wagons, marching bands, and a visit from jolly ol’ Saint Nick. exeterholidayparade.org

DEC. 7: MANCHESTER,Santa Claus Shuffle Road Race & Christmas Parade. It’s a sight to see as runners decked out in Santa gear sprint, walk, or shuffle their way to the finish line near Veterans Park. Afterward, you can head over to the city’s big holiday parade. millenniumrunning.com

DEC. 7, 14: CANTERBURY,Christmas at Canterbury Shaker Village. Celebrate the holiday’s simpler pleasures by taking a candlelit stroll through the village or riding in a horse-drawn wagon or sleigh. Other happenings include a 19th-century magic show, opportunities to make Christmas cards and ornaments, and the village tree lighting. 603-783-9511;shakers.org

DEC. 31: PORTSMOUTH, First Night Celebration. Continuing a tradition that began in 1986, Portsmouth hosts a full slate of family-friendly activities, culminating in a big fireworks show. See website for the full schedule. proportsmouth.org

RHODE ISLAND

NOV. 1–3: PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island Comic Con. The Rhode Island Convention Center hosts the state’s premier comic book, gaming, media, and collectibles event featuring dozens of pop culture and sci-fi celebrities. Among the highlights: a reunion of the Griswold family from National Lampoon’s Vacation. 401-331-6700; ricomiccon.com

NOV. 1–10: NEWPORT,Fall Restaurant Week. From a bowl of chowder by the harbor to fine dining in romantic restaurants, eateries across Bristol and Newport counties are serving top-notch meals that won’t break the bank: $20 for a two-course lunch and $35-$50 for a three-course dinner. discovernewport.org

NOV. 2: PROVIDENCE,WaterFire Salute to Veterans. Honor the service and sacrifice ofthose who have served in America’s military at this downtown event, which includes a veterans resource fair, a storytelling tent, a torch procession, and a “ring of fire” in the Waterplace Basin. waterfiresalutetoveterans.org

NOV. 7–DEC. 29: PROVIDENCE,“A Christmas Carol.” Rhode Island’s family holiday tradition returns to Trinity Rep’s Chace Theater. Grumpy, greedy Ebenezer Scrooge is inspired to change his ways when visited by three Christmas ghosts. 401-351-4242; trinityrep.com

NOV. 8–10: PROVIDENCE, Fine Furnishings Show. Handcrafted American furniture, accessories, and art take center stage at the WaterFire Arts Center, which will be packed with more than 100 exhibitors. Browse work ranging from traditional to modern, watch some demonstrations, and try your luck at a door prize. finefurnishingsshows.com

NOV. 15–DEC. 22: WOONSOCKET,The Polar Express. ’Tis the season for a magical adventure aboard this 90-minute train ride inspired by Chris Van Allsburg’s classic Christmas story. Train runs weekends from Depot Square; advance ticket purchase required. 401-495-1213; blackstonevalleypolarexpress.com

NOV. 23–JAN. 1: BRISTOL,Christmas at Blithewold. Every corner of the historic Blithewold estate is sparkling for the season. Depending on the day, you’ll find tours, music, afternoon teas, storytelling, and perhaps even a visit from Santa. See website for full schedule. 401-253-2707; blithewold.org

DEC. 1: CRANSTON,Holiday Open Houses. The Governor Sprague Mansion and the Joy Homestead will be decorated for the season, with Victorian ornaments at the mansion, and in the simple style of an 1800s family farm at the homestead. Enjoy music, homemade cookies, and holiday beverages, too. Admission is free. 401-944-9226;cranstonhistoricalsociety.org

DEC. 5–8: WICKFORD VILLAGE,Festival of Lights. Stroll the historic village amid holiday light displays as the shops stay open late. See Santa arrive at the town dock, then move on to the tree lighting, caroling, and hayrides. 401-295-5566; southcountyri.com

DEC. 5–8, 13–15: PAWTUCKET,Holiday Show. A co-op of over 60 artists comes together to present the Foundry Artists Association’s holiday show over two weekends at the Pawtucket Armory. Featured items include everything from ceramics to handmade books, fine fiber art, hats, handbags, food, and jewelry. foundryshow.com

DEC. 7: EXETER,Nikommo Winter Moon Celebration. Bring a gift to donate to someone in need, and the Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum will welcome you with free admission to its day of storytelling, music, and crafts by native artisans. 401-491-9063; tomaquagmuseum.org

DEC. 7–8: NORTH KINGSTOWN,Christmas at the Castle. Stroll through the c. 1678 Smith’s Castle when it’s all decked out for a celebration of Christmas past and partake in home-baked treats and mulled cider . 401-294-3521; smithscastle.org

DEC. 8, 14, 15, 28, 29: LINCOLN, Old-Fashioned Christmas/Home for the Holidays Tours. The Victorian era comes alive at the Federal-style mansion known as Hearthside, where volunteers in period garb will guide you through rooms elaborately decorated with ornaments of lace and gold, garlands, and poinsettias. On December 28 and 29, the Home for the Holidays candlelight tours are not to be missed. 401-726-0597;hearthsidehouse.org

DEC. 21–22: WESTERLY,Christmas Pops. The 200-member Chorus of Westerly joins the Pops Festival Orchestra for its annual salute to the season, with three scheduled performances at Kent Hall featuring favorites such as “Sleigh Ride” and “White Christmas.” 401-596-8663; chorusofwesterly.org

VERMONT

NOV. 22–24: BURLINGTON,Craft Vermont. The premier juried show of fine Vermont crafts brings one-of-a-kind pieces to the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, including basketry, ceramics, woodworking, paintings, furniture, glass, jewelry, and photography. 802-872-8600; vermonthandcrafters.com

NOV. 29–DEC. 1: PUTNEY,Craft Tour. Take part in the oldest continuous craft tour in the country as you make your way to the studios of more than 20 of the area’s most talented artists—and at some you can even witness demonstrations of how their creations are made. 802-387-4032; putneycrafts.com

NOV. 29–DEC. 1: WOODSTOCK,Thanksgiving Weekend on the Farm. Turkey Day takes on a 19th-century flavor at Billings Farm & Museum, as it hosts traditional cooking demonstrations and “History of Thanksgiving” programs. 802-457-2355; billingsfarm.org

NOV. 30–DEC. 1: BARRE,Winter Festival of Vermont Crafters. Some 120 artisans and crafters gather at Barre Municipal Auditorium, offering handmade items and creative crafts just in time for the gift-giving season. From journals and pottery to beeswax candles and specialty foods—if it’s better when made by hand, you’ll likely find it here. greaterbarrecraftguild.com

NOV. 30–DEC. 1: KILLINGTON, Audi FIS Ski World Cup. Killington Resort plays host to this top Alpine racing event. The weekend includes women’s giant slalom and slalom races, attracting athletes such as U.S. Ski Team superstar Mikaela Shiffrin. 800-734-9435; killington.com

DEC. 6–8: ESSEX JUNCTION,Vermont International Festival. Join the fun at this annual celebration of cultures from around the world, which brings crafts, foods, music, and dance to the Champlain Valley Expo. 802-863-6713; vermontinternationalfestival.com

DEC. 6–8: STOWE, A Traditional Christmas in Stowe.Welcome the holiday season with tree lightings, a lantern parade, wagon rides, Santaand reindeer visits, and carolers. Experiencecandy cane pulling and wreath making, trygingerbread and cookie decorating, andenjoy performances, ice skating, and more. 802-503-5771; stowevibrancy.com

DEC. 6–JAN. 1: MANCHESTER,Hildene Holidays. Tour the beautiful country estate that was once home to Mary and Robert Todd Lincoln to see how it looks while decorated for Christmas c. 1912. Sights, sounds, and scents of the season abound. Musicians will play the Lincolns’ 1908 Aeolian organ and Steinway piano. 802-362-1788; hildene.org

DEC. 7: BURLINGTON,Winter’s Eve Celebration. Come calling on Ethan and Fanny Allen at their homestead for an evening of fun. First visit the 18th-century tavern to take part in period group dances, hear live music, and see historical demonstrations and participate in hands-on crafts. Then enjoy a lantern-lit tour of the Allen House complete with historical reenactors. 802-865-4556; ethanallenhomestead.org

DEC. 7: PLYMOUTH NOTCH,Coolidge Holiday Open House. Historic Plymouth Notch is the backdrop for this Christmas tradition, featuring the bedecked birthplace of President Calvin Coolidge, old-time music, sleigh rides, craft demonstrations, and kids’ activities. 802-672-3773; historicsites.vermont.gov

DEC. 7: WESTON,Christmas in Weston. A day of fun for all ages is in store during this town-wide annual event. Visit with Santa at the Vermont Country Store before climbing aboard a horse-drawn wagon for a ride. Stop by the Weston Playhouse for puppet and magic shows or visit Old Parish Church for a reading of A Christmas Carol, then spend the day reveling in food tastings, greenhouse tours, and craft demonstrations, accompanied by music and caroling. Stick around for the lighting of the town tree at dusk. westonvt.com

DEC. 14: MONTPELIER,Touch of Vermont Holiday Gift Market. You’ll find the perfect gift for everyone on your list this season as more than 45 Vermont makers and artisans present their wares at City Hall. touchofvt.org

DEC. 31: LUDLOW,Family New Year’s Eve. At Okemo Mountain Resort, enjoy early-evening ice skating, snowtubing, snowshoeing, mountain coaster rides, a magic show, bingo games, and fireworks. Families can ring in the New Year with a DJ dance party and still get the kids to bed early enough so that they’ll be awake and ready to hit the slopes bright and early on January 1. 802-228-1600; okemo.com