Dateline: December 18, 2012
For many folks, the holidays not only represent warmth and the togetherness of family but also stress: much of which can be linked to the pressure to buy gifts. As consumerism wanes, and the priorities of family, health, warmth and nourishment hold increasing precedence, many Vermonters and visitors from beyond opt to spend their resources celebrating holiday time together, rather than on a rush of wasteful presents (beyond those with meaning and from Santa, of course). Whether you stay at a family home, a vacation rental, an inn or a resort, Christmas and New Year's in Vermont are steeped in tradition and sprinkled with magic.
If you'd like to embrace the spirit of Christmas in Vermont this year, here are an insider’s favorite holiday season events and activities from around the state:
Courtesy of Billings Farm & Museum
If you are in Vermont at Christmas time, don't miss a visit to the 19th-century luminescence displayed at Vermont's rural heritage museum. Open weekends in December and daily December 22 through January 1 (excluding Christmas Day), Billings Farm & Museum
in Woodstock, Vermont, offers tours of the authentically decorated farmhouse, plus opportunities to make historic ornaments and crafts, ride a horse-drawn sleigh and sled with jack jumpers. Adults $12, children $8.
Courtesy of Max Kraus
Enjoy month-long holiday cheer displays in the Christmas card town of Middlebury, Vermont. A whimsical hut serves hot chocolate on the town green Saturday, December 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Sunday, December 23, the famed Annual Community Messiah Sing is held at the Congregational Church at 2 p.m., followed by a winter solstice celebration at the Town Hall Theater at 4 p.m. Hunt for miniature mice in storefronts with the I Spy 10 Little Mice contest, and win "Middlebury Money" through December 31. New Year's Eve in Middlebury features fireworks, ice skating, dancing and a dinner theater show.
The best place in Vermont for kids to meet Santa is at the St. Johnsbury Train Depot and Welcome Center
, as he rides into town on a fire truck every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night of the season through December 23. Photos with St. Nick and a full spectrum of kids' activities in one of Vermont's most spirited villages make for a memorable outing with little ones.
At 4:30 p.m. Eastern on the winter solstice, 12.21.12, singers across the globe will gather to sing together in the largest-ever synchronized singing event. With a message to heal the Earth, the song can be learned through a YouTube video
and is led by the Good Earth Singers. All are invited to participate. Public singing events will take place in Burlington, South Burlington and Danville, Vermont, as well as in locations worldwide
Media photo courtesy of the Bennington Museum
More than 20 trees decorated by Bennington, Vermont-area community groups representing themes from around the world are on display at the Bennington Museum in Bennington, Vermont, through December 30. From traditional trees to eclectic designs, Vermont's historic Americana memorabilia museum celebrates globally through the holidays (closed Christmas Day). Admission to the museum is $10 for adults, free for children under 18. Looking for a little rockin' around the Christmas tree? Attend the Afterglow Party on Friday, December 21, from 8-11 p.m., and dance the night away in the museum ($7 cover charge, cash bar).
The acoustically distinct sound of Vermont capital city Montpelier's Christ Episcopal Church
resounds with A Child is Born: Christmas Music by Michael Praetorius
featuring works by the German composer performed by the 60-voice Onion River Chorus, accompanied by a brass and wind ensemble. Tickets are $12 for adults at the Sunday, December 23, 2012 performance at 3 p.m.
© 2012 Rachel Carter
When the tinsel starts clogging the vacuum, the recycle bin is overloaded with wrapping paper and the drying balsam needles are sticking to your socks, it is time to explore your New Year's Eve options. Vermont has plenty to offer. Popular, family-friendly First Night events can be found in Brattleboro, Montpelier, Burlington and Stratton Mountain. The Vermont Department of Tourism provides creative suggestions for celebrating New Year's Eve in Vermont
, whether you'd like to meditate at midnight or howl in 2013 with sled dogs.