Excursions: Holiday Fetes and Strolls
Holiday spirit is highly infectious—no way you’ll catch it at home, watching t.v., and all it takes is one trip to any mall to guarantee immunity well past New Year’s Eve. Our small town holiday festivals, on the other hand, are veritable petri dishes of the stuff. Attend any or several of the many scattered throughout our region this weekend through next, and you’ll find holly spontaneously sprouting in your heart.
©Norman Rockwell Museum
Sunday, December 6 @ noon to 2 p.m.
Dreaming of an idyllic New England Christmas? The Chamber of Commerce of Stockbridge offers one that’s straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Literally. Every year for the past two decades, the organizers have gone to great pains to create a tableau vivant of Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting, “Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas” (above)—same decorations, same vintage cars, the only difference, in the re-creation, the Red Lion Inn is all lit up; whereas, when Rockwell did his study, it was closed for the winter. Even when the painting first appeared in print in 1967 as an illustration in McCall;s, it depicted an earlier, more innocent age (the artist had worked on it for ten years), capturing a Stockbridge that was pre-hippie, pre-Viet Nam, pre-Columbia-and-Berkeley-riots. For a full account of the day’s many other activities, visit the Chamber’s website.
Friday, December 4 @ 5 - 8 p.m.
Alchemy Initiative FUNdraiser to benefit a church re-purposed as a community center, offers artisan-made gifts, such as the toys, ornaments, sweaters and blankets by famed knit recycler Crispina ffrench (whose “Chop Shop” is also on the premises) to kitchen utensils, jewelry, pottery, hand-printed calendars, leather bags and accessories to all sorts of holiday foods to either eat there or take home, cookies, sweets, trees, wreaths, gift wrapping done on premises, live music, mulled cider and wine, and hearty finger fare. Donation: $20
December 6, 3 - 5 p.m.
Each year for the past six, Wheatleigh, the 5-Diamond resort in Lenox, has sponsored a gingerbread-house-making context to benefit Berkshire Grown. It will be held this year at the Lenox Community Center.
Entry details: 413.627.0610
Wednesday, December 9 @ 5 - 8 p.m.
Carolers, treats, a tree lighting, and discounted prices—not bad for Great Barrington on a Wednesday night. For details, visit the Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce website.
Saturday, December 5 @ 3 - 8 p.m.
The words “cheerful” and “hip” seldom figure in the same sentence, much less one that’s about the holidays. Yet, somehow, Hudson’s Winter Walk is both. Yes, there is a Santa parade, street musicians, fireworks, people in costumes, such as the couple at left, which are all great for children and make the 2-mile walk from 1st to 8th on Warren Street entertaining every step of the way. But the heart of the matter lies in the shops and galleries, which, on a cold winter night, turn into warm and welcoming havens. All those beautiful storefronts with all those beautiful things in them (20 new businesses since last year’s event) barely need a wreath on the door to look Dickensian. And their proprietors require no false bonhomie (or whiskers)—“showmanship” is not something these seasoned retailers drag out of the attic once a year and dust off. It is what they do every day.
For a complete Winter Walk itinerary, including information on altered traffic patterns and parking, visit the Hudson Opera House website.
December 5 & 6 @ 10 a.m.
Clermont State Historic Site shares the holiday traditions of the Livingston family, who lived there for seven generations. Children can experience Christmas morning through the eyes of Honoria and Janet Livingston, the last children to reside there. The program starts with a stocking-feet tour of the house, which, of course, is decorated for the holidays, followed by a storyteller, in costume, who will teach children about 19th- and early 20th-century Christmas traditions, followed by games, songs and snacks.The program on Saturday is designed for children 3 - 6; on Sunday 7 - 11 year olds. Tickets are $12/children; $2/per accompanying adult. Pre-paid reservations required.
Friday - Sunday, December 4 - 6 & 11 -12
The James Vanderpoel House, one of the jewels in the crown that is Broad Street, Kinderhook, will be the site of the Columbia County Historical Society‘s Wreaths and Holiday Craft Boutique, wreath silent auction, children’s crafts workshop ($5 per child, $10 per family, members free), and adults holiday champagne brunch (members $10, non members $15; reservations encouraged). In addition, next weekend, on December 11, from 6 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., the Village of Kinderhook Candlelight Night is a tour of private homes decorated for the holidays. Tickets will be available for purchase that evening at the Columbia County Museum and James Vanderpoel House; $10/person; $25/family (admits up to 4 people).
December 5 @ 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
The Hawthorne Valley Yuletide Fair and Gingerbread House Auction is a low key, family-oriented event that features shopping for handcrafted items such as wooden toys, a Tiny Treasure Room of gift items to fit the most minute budgets, some crafts workshops (candle dipping, stained-glass ornament making) for adults and older children, and a puppet show for little ones.
Puppet show admission, $4 Reservations strongly advised. 518.672.7092, ext. 112
Sunday, December 13 @11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
In previous years an evening event, Chatham’s Winterfest will take place this year during daylight hours. Carolers will still stroll and Santa Claus will be there, naturally. For details, visit Chatham Business Alliance website.
Now - December 20, Thursday - Sunday @ 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
The Spencertown Academy‘s Annual Handmade Holiday Shop features mostly one-of-a-kind gift items—jewelry, hand-knit scares, porcelain dinnerware, hand-bound books, quilted handbags, letterpress holiday cards, etc.—by local artists and artisans.
December 5, 10 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Last week, we gave a little background on Sinterklaas (see below), a Dutch-based, Rhinebeck-embellished holiday festival. This Saturday, in honor of Sinterklaas, Rhinebeck throws a day-Long, town-wide celebration, followed, at dusk, by a starlight parade.
Sunday, December 6 @ 3:30 - 6:30 p.m.
In Lakeville, Santa arrives at 3:30, then at 5:30, the tree on the Green next to the firehouse will be lit. In Salisbury, the band begins playing and carolers start singing at 5:30; the tree on the Green next to the White Hart Inn gets lit at 6:30 and is followed by a Parade of Lights. Hot chocolate, cider and other snacks will be available at both.