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Our list of fun and low-cost holiday events in Connecticut includes many places to meet Santa and his elves, Christmas tree lighting festivals, historical holiday events, and a variety of holiday concerts and shows across Connecticut, including activities in Bridgeport, Fairfield, Greenwich, Mystic, New Haven, Norwalk, Ridgefield, Stamford, Westport, Wilton, and beyond.
McArdle's Florist & Garden Center, GreenwichNov. 29 – Dec. 24 Santa and his live reindeer return to Santa's Workshop at McArdle's Florist & Garden Center. At approximately 2pm on Friday November 29, Santa will arrive down Greenwich Avenue with Dancer, Dasher, Prancer and Blitzen. Families can visit the reindeer and have their photo taken with Santa at his special workshop. Adults, children, company employees and even pets are welcome. Reindeer feeding times will take place daily at 9am and 4pm.
Maritime Aquarium, NorwalkDec. 1-31On select dates in December, Santa Claus will join The Maritime Aquarium's dive team to demonstrate that sharks aren't the blood-thirsty killers of myth. Santa will strap on scuba gear and enter the Aquarium's 110,000-gallon "Ocean Beyond the Sound" exhibit, which is home to 7-foot sand tiger and lemon sharks. It's all part of the regular dive-team program, in which Aquarium visitors can see – and talk with – divers swimming in the exhibit on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Check the Aquarium's website for specific dates when Santa can pull himself away from the North Pole and exchange his snow boots for swim flippers.
Burr Homestead, FairfieldDec. 6-8Kick off the start of the winter season with holiday shopping and festive events. Tour the mansion’s designer-decorated rooms while sipping on a cup of hot cider, buy a custom-created live wreath, take a photo with Santa, or shop for unique gifts at the Holiday Boutique. Plus, all the beautifully crafted holiday decorations throughout the Burr Homestead will be for sale. All proceeds raised at this event will fund The Kennedy Center’s Artist Cooperative.
Downtown GreenwichDec. 7-8The holidays will be set in motion again in downtown Greenwich, Connecticut. This annual tradition features horse drawn carriage rides, carolers, musicians, professional ice sculptors, bouncy castles for children, specialty food trucks, Greenwich Art Council family art workshop, exhibition and sale, and more than 100 participating retailers and restaurants offering special promotions, refreshments and holiday cheer. And don’t forget to visit the live Reindeer and have your photo taken with Santa at McArdle’s Florist & Garden Center. Parking is free.
Maritime Aquarium, NorwalkDec. 8 and Dec. 14The Maritime Aquarium is pleased to welcome that "right jolly old elf," Santa Claus, for a visit. Children can bring their wish lists and share them on Santa's lap. Bring your camera to snap a keepsake memory.
Fairfield University Bookstore, FairfieldDec. 14-15 Events include live acoustic music, a gingerbread workshop ($35) visit from Santa and his elves,a goodie bags for kids, story time with Mrs. Claus and a meet and greet with a Christmas book illustrator. Reservations required for the gingerbread workshop. Santa's visit from 2-4pm.
Lockwood-Mathews Mansion, NorwalkDec. 15The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum invites visitors to a festive family event and several hours of entertainment, all in the spirit of an old-fashioned community celebration with holiday displays, Santa Claus, storytelling, music, holiday refreshments, family entertainment, a Teddy Bear and Doll Victorian Tea, and more. Advance ticket reservation and purchase required for the Tea.
Great Lawn of Saint Margaret's Shrine, BridgeportDec. 15Families can come to the great lawn at Saint Margaret's Shrine for an outdoor Christmas Carol Sing-Along to celebrate the holidays and to help those less fortunate individuals and families. Visitors are asked to bring one item of non-perishable food per person (or family) for the Operation Hope Food Pantry which feeds the hungry and homeless within our community. Santa makes an appearance during the concert.
Stepping Stones Museum, NorwalkDec. 17-20Enjoy hands–on activities and meet and take your own photos with holiday favorites, from Santa Claus to Frosty the Snowman to other surprise characters.
Pump It Up, NorwalkDec. 17, 21The music and special lighting may be low-key but there's still plenty of excitement when the kids meet Santa's friendly elves.
Pump It Up, NorwalkDec. 12, 19, 21-22You've been nice, so come to Pump It Up for two hours of bouncing, sliding and jumping holiday fun. Have a snack, decorate a Christmas craft and meet jolly Santa Claus. Kids, bring your wish lists and parents bring your cameras.
Stepping Stones Museum, NorwalkDec. 5This is the final Get Into It! FREE event for 2013 and features the annual tree and courtyard lighting ceremony and so much more.
Christ Church, GreenwichDec. 5Join Temple Sholom and Christ Church for their annual interfaith tradition. Gather in front of Christ Church where there will be a giant menorah and a Christmas tree. Both will be lit and holiday favorites from both traditions will be sung. Enjoy apple cider and donuts afterwards.
Downtown WiltonDec. 6First Selectman Bill Brennan and Santa Claus will arrive at the gazebo in a fire truck to officially start the Holiday Stroll at 5:30pm. Brennan and Santa will light the holiday tree, and Santa will stay to listen to children's Christmas wishes while the Wilton High School band plays favorite holiday tunes. Many merchants throughout Wilton will be offering holiday treats and beverages.
McLevy Green, BridgeportDec. 6Everyone is invited to join Mayor Bill Finch and other city officials for this holiday tradition to light up downtown Bridgeport.
Maritime Center, New HavenDec. 7-15Every year, more than 3,000 people enjoy the Ronald McDonald House of Connecticut’s (RMH-CT) annual Trees of Hope. This year, the dynamic and festive holiday spectacular will be held from December 7-15 at the Martime Center in New Haven. What began 24 years ago with a dozen trees at the Governor’s Mansion has flourished into a nine-day display of over 100 decorated trees, wreaths and holiday baskets lining the halls of the Maritime Center in New Haven. A true partnership with the greater New Haven community, Trees of Hope raises funds for the children and families staying at RMH-CT. Donated and decorated in themes and many times in memory of loved ones, each tree, ranging in height from four to eight feet, has its own personality and story. They are adorned with everything from traditional hand-made ornaments to rubber ducks to jewelry to gift cards and lottery tickets. All items on display are raffled off, with winners chosen live at the conclusion of the event on Sunday, December 15.
Lockwood-Mathews Mansion, NorwalkNov. 29 – Dec. 29 Visitors to the Mansion will explore the development of American holiday traditions during the Victorian era, including holiday technologies and toys. Each Period Room of this National Historic Landmark will tell a story, such as the Dining Room, which will highlight New Year's feasts and menus. Throughout the Mansion the exhibit will tell the evolving story of the Christmas tree and its decorations. Visitors will see its evolution from 1850 to 1900s, from small tabletop tree with edibles and handmade ornaments, to lavishly embellished trees that stood on the floor and almost reached the ceiling. The Museum will also explore the Mansion during the 1930s, and the decorations and gift-giving traditions during Florence Mathews era.
Mystic Seaport, MysticDec. 1, 7-8, 13-14, 20-22, and 27Step back in time to Christmas Eve 1876 at Mystic Seaport for a 70-minute progressive play that tells a unique holiday story. Both young and old will enjoy seasonal delights that include a traditional tavern dance, a horse-drawn carriage ride and the beautiful glow of hundreds of lanterns that light the way. NOTE: The 7pm and 8:45pm Red Tours on Saturday, December 14, have been set aside for deaf and hearing impaired visitors. A sign language interpreter will be accompanying each tour for the duration.
Barnum Museum, BridgeportDec. 8Join Kathleen Maher, Executive Director of the museum, for a journey back in time to learn about holiday festivities of bygone days. Maher will present the evolution of the tales and traditions of a Victorian age Christmas.
Wilton Library, WiltonDec. 12 Discover how Christmas was celebrated in Colonial times. One of the members of the Wilton Historical Society will give a talk about Colonial Christmas customs, and there will be a craft, refreshments and activities. Kindergarten and up. Registration required.
Keeler Tavern, RidgefieldDec. 19Enjoy a reading of Clement Moore's delightful poem in front of the Garden House fireplace a by costumed performer. Refreshments will be served and each family will receive a 4" x 6" colored photo of their child/family in one of the Museum's antique sleighs.
IMAX Theater at the Maritime Aquarium, NorwalkNov. 28 – Jan. 1See this popular holiday film about a young boy who doubts the existence of Santa Claus and gets taken on a magical Christmas Eve trip to the North Pole.
Shubert Theater, New HavenNov. 29 – Dec. 1This musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' holiday classic features favorite Christmas carols in a production the whole family will enjoy. The story of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge—who discovers the true meaning of Christmas—captures all the warmth, goodwill, and musical memories of the season.
Fairfield Museum and History Center, FairfieldDec. 6 – Jan. 5Kids and adults will delight in the magic of model trains winding around a winter wonderland of spectacular trees and beautiful holiday scenery.
Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts at Sacred Heart University, FairfieldDec. 7Presented by Sacred Heart University’s Center for Irish Cultural Studies and the Shamrock Traditional Irish Music Society, the group has performed for the past 25 years is considered by some to be the most engaging ensembles in the history of Irish music.
Westport Country Playhouse, WestportDec. 7-8, 14Dancers from the Ballet Etudes Company present a full-length production of The Nutcracker, featuring guest artists from New York City Ballet. In this family friendly classic set to the music of Tchaikovsky, Clara’s dream world is brought to life—from the party with Drosselmeyer and the dancing dolls to the battle between the Mouse King and the Nutcracker Prince. Clara takes a magical journey to the Land of the Snow and is entertained by Mother Ginger, Goldilocks, Chinese Dragons and more. This seasonal ballet tradition captures the classical beauty of the Snow Queen, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, and the Waltz of the Flowers.
Wilton Library, WiltonDec. 7Come to a special holiday performance by the Wilton Conservatory of Dance. They will be performing highlights from the Nutcracker Ballet by Peter Tchaikovsky. Short reception to follow performance. Registration and ticket required.
Stratford Theater, StratfordDec. 7The Chordsmen will sing holiday songs in their unique a cappella style that has come to be enjoyed by audiences throughout the region. A portion of the proceeds go toward the radio station WICC600's Holiday Fund. The WICC600 Holiday Fund for Children serves the most needy who live in area towns and communities that are served by WICC600.
Staples High School, WestportDec. 7-8Westport's Academy of Dance is proud to be able to offer this holiday tradition to the community for 32 years. Highlighting their own Children's Ballet Theatre filled with over 100 local dancers, this production is magical and is a wonderful way to ring in the season.
Crystal Theatre Center for the Performing Arts, Ben Franklin Theater, South NorwalkDec. 7As Santa's helpers, which consist of not only elves but fairy tale and Mother Goose characters, are working hard on making toys for the up-coming holiday season, mean old Mr. Barnaby and his rats are making mischief in and around Toyland. When Bo Peep finds out that her flock of sheep is missing, Santa's helpers do everything they can to rescue her sheep and stop Barnaby and his rats from almost ruining Christmas.
Bijou Theater, BridgeportDec. 8 Enjoy a special holiday afternoon with a performance of one of the most beloved works in ballet repertoire – an abridged suite of Tchaikovsky’s iconic ballet The Nutcracker, performed by the dancers of New England Ballet Company. After the show, hear Clara read the enchanting story of the Nutcracker and meet the dancers – a perfect family outing designed for elementary-aged children.
Barnum Museum, BridgeportDec. 11Bridgeport's First Lady will read Clement Clarke Moore's timeless holiday tale under the twinkling lights of a Victorian Christmas tree. Children attending the nearby Early Learning Lab at Housatonic Community College have been invited, but the public is also encouraged to bring their preschool-aged children.
Ridgefield Playhouse, RidgefieldDec. 12 When Rockapella sings, they sound like a full band that can play everything -- from rock and pop to jazz, hip hop and all the holiday favorites. They are a blend of five voices, including a vocal percussionist, regarded as being at the forefront of contemporary pop music with their unique style of soul, rock and R&B performing everything from vintage Mills Brothers to swinging songs of the season.
Shubert Theater, New HavenDec. 13-15This holiday classic is performed by the students of New Haven Ballet and features the New Haven Ballet Orchestra and guest dancers Maria Kowroski, Principal Dancer with New York City Ballet, and Charles Askegard, Former Principal Dancer with New York City Ballet.
Ridgefield Playhouse, RidgefieldDec. 14-15Come hear Tchaikovsky's soaring score as graceful ballerinas and wooden soldiers come to life and a larger-than-life Christmas tree make the holidays bright for young and old. The Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance's new production features a cast of guest artists plus their own dancers, exquisite costumes and enchanting choreography. The Conservatory's new students Amanda Tully and Julia Assue will perform the role of Clara for the first time. Herr Drosselmeyer will be danced by the Nutcracker's Co-Director.
Quick Center for the Arts, FairfieldDec. 15Families won't want to miss the magic of Tchaikovsky's beautiful musical tale danced by students of Connecticut Dance School. Guest artist, Carlos Lopez, former American Ballet Theater soloist, joins the cast dancing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy's Cavalier. Choreographed and staged by CDS Director Alan Woodard.
Ridgefield Playhouse, RidgefieldDec. 19-20The most wonderful time of the year gets even brighter with music of the season presented by Tony Award-winner Debbie Gravitte and her star-studded cast who will deck the halls for an evening of holiday entertainment complete with Santa, singers and dancers. Audience members will be invited to sing with Debbie on stage.
The Klein Auditorium, BridgeportDec. 21-22New England Ballet Company presents its 22nd annual family holiday classic, The Nutcracker, under the artistic direction of Kenneth Hopkins and Karen Goodman. Clara's dream is brought to life in a large cast production with exquisite costumes and choreography by Victor Trevino. The cast consists of company dancers, students of New England Ballet School and Betsy Ross School Magnet School. The moment the lights dim, the audience is transported to a magical party scene filled with adorable children, marching toy soldiers, a villainous Rat King and mischievous mice. A wonderful ballet for the entire family, Nutcracker is the perfect way to introduce children to the magic and beauty of classical ballet.
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Karen Demeter lives in Fairfield County, CT with her husband and three children. Karen is the regional editor of Fairfield Parent and Suffolk Parent magazines and an expert on kids' and family activities in Fairfield and on Long Island. See More.
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