10 New England Holiday Happenings

Finished Holiday Shopping? Enjoy One of These Festive New England Holiday Events

Zoolights a New England Holiday Tradition
••• Zoolights at Stone Zoo is a New England holiday tradition. Media photo courtesy of Stone Zoo

If you're visiting New England during the 2016 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.

1. Lantern Light Tours at Mystic Seaport

From November 25 through December 23 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. This year's storyline is inspired by "The Nutcracker" and features mischievous mice and a visit from Old St. Nick. Reservations are strongly recommended, and tickets for Lantern Light Tours may be purchased online or by calling 860-572-0771. Tickets are $32 for adults and $25 for children ages 5 to 17.

2. "ZooLights" at Stone Zoo

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 nightly through December 23. On December 6, 13, 20 and 24, kids can meet Mrs. Claus from 5:30-8 p.m., too. See the glittering zoo nightly from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. through January 1; closed Christmas Day.

Admission is $9 per person; free for children under 2. Call 617-541-5466 for more information.

3. North Pole Express and Santa Special

Catch the Essex Steam Train's North Pole Express or Santa Special for a holiday train ride with Santa Claus on select dates November 10 through December 29. 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.

4. Nine Nights of Christmas at Old Sturbridge Village

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 3 until 9 p.m. on Friday through Sunday evenings December 2 through 23. Take my photo tour of Christmas at Old Sturbridge Village for a preview of what you'll see.

5. Christmas by the Sea

Ogunquit, Maine's 30th annual Christmas by the Sea on December 9-11 features a Christmas Parade, 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.

6. Candlelight Carols

Escape the commercialism of Christmas at one of the annual Candlelight Carols services at Trinity Church in Boston on Saturday, December 17 at 4 and 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 18 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.

7. Christmas Time at Santa's Village

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 19 through December 18 and also on Friday, November 25, 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.

8. Christmas Prelude in Kennebunkport

Kennebunkport's 35th annual Christmas Prelude from December 1-11 ushers in the holidays as only Maine can, with Santa arriving via lobster boat, the lighting of the lobster trap tree, a Firehouse Lobster Supper, a Fire + Ice bar, 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.

9. Woodstock Wassail Weekend

Woodstock, Vermont, hosts its 33rd annual Wassail Weekend December 9-11 featuring concerts (including a Holiday Cabaret Evening and Irish Christmas in America), 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.

10. Winterfest

The Connecticut Trolley Museum in East Windsor, Connecticut, celebrates Winterfest on Friday through Sunday evenings November 25 through December 30, plus Monday through Thursday, December 26-29. 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 $12 for adults, $10 for those 62 and over, $8 for children ages 2 to 12 and $3 for children under 2. For more information, call 860-627-6540.