If you're visiting New England during the 2013 holiday season, you're in store for a wide variety of holiday happenings that are sure to delight. Here's a quick look at 10 events you might include on your travel itinerary that are sure to put you in the holiday spirit.
From November 30 through December 27 on select evenings, tour Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut, by lantern light for a glimpse of Christmas past. Your tour guide will play the role of someone from the year 1876, and you'll be immersed in the drama as a Victorian Christmas celebration unfolds and St. Nicholas himself makes an appearance. Reservations are strongly recommended, and tickets for Lantern Light Tours may be purchased online or by calling 860-572-5331. Tickets are $30 for adults when purchased in advance ($33 on the day of the tour) and $23 ($26 day of tour) for children ages 5 to 17.
Stone Zoo in Stoneham, Massachusetts, is the place to be if you love animals and the holidays. The zoo dances with thousands of holiday lights and also is home to mechanically animated animals and live reindeer during the Christmas season. Santa Claus appears through December 23. On Tuesdays December 3, 10 and 17, kids can make holiday crafts and enjoy Storytime with Mrs. Claus at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. inside the Animal Discovery Center. See the glittering zoo nightly from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. through January 5; closed Christmas Day. Admission is $7 per person; free for children under 2. Call 617-541-5466 for more information.
Catch the Essex Steam Train's North Pole Express or Santa Special for a holiday train ride with Santa Claus on select dates November 29 through December 23. Tickets are sold online or at the Essex Train Station in Essex, Connecticut. Most dates sell out in advance. For available dates, times, prices, reservations and further information, call 860-767-0103 or toll free 800-377-3987.
Soak up the spirit of the season and learn a bit about holiday history, too, as Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, presents nine evenings of "Christmas by Candlelight" in select houses and shops around the Common from 4 until 9 p.m. on Friday through Sunday evenings December 6 through 22. Take my photo tour of Christmas at Old Sturbridge Village for a preview of what you'll see.
Ogunquit, Maine's 27th annual Christmas by the Sea on December 13-15 features a Christmas Parade, a beach bonfire, storytelling, caroling, shopping, hay rides, music, arts and crafts, a living nativity, visits with Santa, an expanded Chowderfest rechristened "Taste the Season" and more. Call the Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce for more information: 207-646-2939.
Escape the commercialism of Christmas at one of the annual Candlelight Carols services at Trinity Church in Boston on Saturday, December 14 at 4 p.m. and Sunday, December 15 at 7 p.m. What a spectacular setting! The American Institute of Architects named this Copley Square landmark one of the 10 greatest public buildings in the country. There is no admission fee, but a free-will offering is requested. Preferred tickets to a Candlelight Carols Benefit on Sunday, December 15 at 4 p.m. are available in advance for $110, $75 and $45 and may be purchased online. Call 617-536-0944, ext. 210 for more information.
Santa's Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire, is at its most festive at Christmas time. Visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoy theme rides and see magical shows from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Sundays November 23 through December 22 and also on Friday, November 29, from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. My Santa's Village photo gallery will give you a visual preview of the park. For more information call 603-586-4445.
Kennebunkport's annual Christmas Prelude from December 5-8 and December 13-15 ushers in the holidays as only Maine can, with Santa arriving via lobster boat, the lighting of the lobster trap tree, a Firehouse Lobster Bake, a fire and ice bar gala, Christmas fireworks and many other festive events. This Kennebunkport Christmas Prelude photo gallery captures the traditions that make this holiday celebration on the coast of Maine one-of-a-kind.
Woodstock, Vermont, hosts its 30th annual Wassail Weekend December 13-15 featuring concerts (including an Irish Christmas in America showcase this year), children's events, a Medieval Wassail Feast, a yule log on the green and a parade of horses and riders in traditional costume. For more information, call 802-457-3555 or toll free, 888-496-6378.
The Connecticut Trolley Museum in East Windsor, Connecticut, celebrates Winterfest on Friday through Sunday evenings from 5 to 9 p.m. November 29 through December 30, plus Thursday, December 26 and Monday, December 30. Bundle up and climb aboard the "electric sleigh," a restored antique trolley, for a three-mile ride through a "tunnel of lights" featuring more than 6,000 bulbs. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for those 62 and over, $6 for children ages 2 to 12 and $3 for children under 2. For more information, call 860-627-6540.