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Family Fun

12 Jolly Things to do in CT to Get in the Holiday Spirit

Written by Timothy Stobierski

Feeling more like the Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge than St. Nick? We feel you. Here are some activities you can do in CT to put you in the Christmas spirit.

Making the transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas can be hard, especially when it hasn’t even begun to snow yet. It seems like some people can dive right into the holidays the day after Thanksgiving, with lights and trees and decorations, while others have to ease into things with baby steps throughout December.

Believe me, I know. I’ve been called a Scrooge many a time over my opinions on Christmas music (namely being that it should only be played for 2 weeks before the holiday!). And some years, its definitely harder to get into the holiday spirit than other years. But we all usually get there eventually.

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If you’re looking to ease that transition into the holidays, then I’ve got some advice for you: Just pick one or two “Christmas-y” things to do each week leading up to the holidays. (If you’ve got kids, you might need to do a bit more!). Not sure where to start? That’s why I’ve pulled together this list of holiday-themed activities that you can do around CT to put yourself in the jolliest of Christmas moods.

If you need family bonding time

1. Find the perfect Christmas tree.
Christmas trees hold a special place in our hearts. They literally sit at the heart of the holiday, where all of the action happens. Instead of relying on an artificial tree or just picking one up on your way home from work, why not make a family event out of finding, selecting, and cutting down your own tree to take home and decorate? I know many families for whom this is a necessary holiday tradition. Sure, it’ll take a bit more time, but that’s where the family bonding comes in!

2. Take a trip to the North Pole.
If you’ve got little ones, then you know that Christmas is a time of magic and wonder and belief in Santa. Feed into the magic by taking the kids on a trip to the North Pole, where they can meet Santa, Mrs. Claus, see the elves at work, and visit Santa’s Workshop! There are a number of options in CT, but two of our favorites are Santa’s Trolley Winter Wonderland in East Haven and the Northern Lights Limited/Santa Express in Thomaston.

3. Check out the gingerbread art in Kent.
Every year during December, the town of Kent works together to create a wondrous Christmas-themed spectacle: The Kent Gingerbread Festival. Shops around town spend time making beautiful gingerbread art and place them in their windows, where visitors can see them and vote on their favorites. Kids and adults alike will love the holiday vibe, and mom and dad might even be able to get in a bit of last-minute shopping at some of the boutiques.

If you’re all about the lights

4. Check out Fantasy of Lights in New Haven.
With 60 animated Christmas displays consisting of more than 100,000 glittering bubs, Fantasy of Lights is sure to put everyone in a cheery mood. This year marks the 22nd year of the attraction with the addition of 3D glasses that can be worn to enhance the displays and really bring them to life, perfect for families with small children. Who doesn’t love 3D? Plus, you pay by the carload 9a pretty low fee) making this perfect for families with a lot of kids!

5. Head to the amusement park!
Every year, Lake Compounce puts on an extraordinary show of holiday cheer with the Lake Compounce Holiday Lights. And it makes sense: It’s got everything from hundreds of thousands of lights, the tallest Christmas Tree in CT, a chance for kids to meet with Santa, and even rides. Who doesn’t love a good excuse to get out to Lake Compounce?

6. Enjoy the Festival of Silver Lights in Meriden.
The Festival of Silver Lights in Hubbard Park in Meriden is one of the most spectacular light shows in CT. With more than 300,000 Christmas lights used to create amazing displays in the shape of animals and other holiday scenes, it’s sure to be a delight for all who visit. Why not make a night out of the trip, and stop by K LaMay’s or Ted’s for one of Meriden’s classic steamed cheeseburgers?

If you’re stuck inside

7. Work your way through our list of snow day activities!
If the weather has you stuck inside due to snow or freezing rain or just because it’s too darn cold, then there’s no better time to work through our list of the 50 Best Things to Do During a Snow Storm. Start at the top and work your way down. Just give the activities a holiday spin and you’ll definitely feel yourself in the Christmas spirit in no time at all.

8. Make room for new holiday memories.
Everyone’s heard off Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It literally outlines how decluttering your home by ridding yourself of things that you don’t need or use can allow you to be healthier, happier, and more in tune with your own personal needs. Sometimes, we need to do the same thing with our holiday trinkets, traditions, and mindsets. What is the holiday baggage that you carry around with you from year to year? How many trinkets do you put out, not because you love them, but out of obligation to the memories they carry? How many “traditions” are traditions you wish you could throw out the door to make room for new memories, new traditions? Next time you’re stuck inside, take the time to declutter your “holiday” home and really let yourself enjoy what the season has to offer, unencumbered by the obligations you’ve carried with you til now.

9. Make cards for those in need.
When you’re stuck inside because of bad weather, crafts are some of the best ways of passing the time. Why not put those crafts to use by making holiday cards for those in need? This year, I worked with a bunch of friends to make cards for Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, where they are being used as holiday decorations; you could also make cards for troops stationed abroad, etc. The point is to use your creativity to bring a smile to the face of those in need, and this is the perfect way of getting kids into the giving spirit for the holidays.

If you’re looking for a night out

10. Live through a holiday play with a Lantern Light Tour.
Christmas might be billed as a time for the kids, but the adults need some time to themselves every so often to get into the holiday cheer. What better way than with a Lantern Light Tour through downtown Mystic, where participants will be lead through a unique performance that is half history and half theatrical wonder?

11. Make a visit to the Festival of Trees.
Every year community members, artists and organizations decorate holiday trees and wreaths to be displayed in the galleries of the Wadsworth Atheneum. All items are for sale, and profits help fund the museum’s special exhibitions, educational programs, and operating expenses. A trip to the museum to marvel at the beauty of these expert-created trees is the perfect holiday excursion for adults who need just a little time away from the kids.

12. Enjoy a date night carriage ride.
Date night doesn’t have to end just because the holidays are gearing up! Instead of letting the romance die during the holidays, heat things back up with a romantic sleigh or carriage ride at Allegra Farms. They’re a perfect activity all winter long, not just for the holidays, but will certainly bring a little magic to life!
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About the author

Timothy Stobierski

Tim Stobierski is a Connecticut native and a freelance writer and editor who has worked with a number of publishers including Taunton, Abrams, and Yale University Press. He has written for Grow Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Hartford Courant, and many other publications. His first book of poetry, Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer was published in 2012 by River Otter Press. He is the founding editor of, a website focused on helping college students avoid and pay off their student loan debt.

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