For many in Northwestern Connecticut, the holidays begin with the celebration of the annual Bethlehem Christmas Town Festival.
Each year on the first weekend in December, Bethlehem, CT closes Main Street to automotive traffic and transforms the town’s green and municipal buildings into a winter wonderland.
This two-day festival offers festive activities, holiday musical performances, and seasonal goods from local vendors for the entire family.
The festival began Friday night at 5pm with a musical performance by Gus’ Gang, Fife, and Drum Band. The Nonnewaug High School Band and Singers immediately followed. At 6pm, the lighting of the town tree on the green commenced.
Guests were welcomed into the municipal buildings throughout the event. Buildings include the library, town hall, church, and the historic 1865 District #1 Schoolhouse. Families could take photos with Santa, engage in craft activities for children, view a Christmas concert, or shop local craft and food vendors.
Friday’s festival night also featured a scavenger hunt and the Roaming Railroad train ride for children.
Santa Made Me Do It 5K Road Race
Saturday at the Bethlehem Christmas Town Festival always begins with the “Santa Made Me Do It” 5K road race. This event also offers a more leisurely 2-mile walk and 1/4-mile kids fun run.
A scavenger hunt was also available Saturday as well as family hayrides. Santa arrived via Firetruck at 10am ready for photos. A bell concert, and two Christmas concerts took place Saturday afternoon.
Ornaments and Holiday Mail
Two long-standing traditions at the Bethlehem Christmas Town Festival are purchasing the annual Christmas Town Ornament and visiting the Bethlehem Post Office to send holiday mail with a Christmas Cache stamp.
Since 1983, unique pewter ornaments have been offered. The ornament design changes yearly.
Ornaments are available at the festival as well as at local businesses. These include the Town Hall, Little Town Deli, Sunny Ridge Market, Thomaston Savings Bank, Diane’s Gift, and Garden, Towne Apothecary, and True Value Hardware.
Bethlehem Post Office offers a selection of the 85 different Christmas Cache stamps, with a new design created by local residents, artists, or children each year since 1938. Mailing your holiday cards and packages from this post office affords the opportunity to adorn your package or letter with one of these festive stamps, and a Bethlehem postmark.