Dec 5, 2013
08:34 AM
Arts & Entertainment

Connecticut's 'Christmas Town' Tree Lighting; Bethlehem Festival Starts Friday

Connecticut's 'Christmas Town' Tree Lighting; Bethlehem Festival Starts Friday

The Bethlehem Christmas Town Committee showing off its improved website at in a photo from the festival's Facebook page.

Around this time of year, Bethlehem, Conn., increasingly takes on its other name—Christmas Town, which refers to much more than the name it shares with the birthplace of Jesus.

Every aspect of this quaint New England town—from the town green to the post office to the Abbey of Regina Laudis—will be honoring the holiday season this weekend in the 33rd annual Christmas Town Festival.

On Friday, Dec. 6, from 5 to 10 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., visitors are invited to explore the many holiday treats tucked into the corners of town center, and it all starts with the lighting of the holiday tree on the green Friday evening at 6 p.m., with Santa of course.

See the festival’s schedule of events, and a map, and all the other necessary details on the festival’s website.

The event is so popular that guests are asked to park at the Bethlehem Fairgrounds and get shuttled the short distance to the town center in school buses.

Over the last three decades, Bethlehem’s festival has built quite the reputation; after all, being the Christmas Town is a tall order.

But Bethlehem doesn’t disappoint. Many people look forward to the festival to kick off their holiday season. Whether this is your 33rd time attending or your first, this year’s Christmas Town Festival will have something for all ages.

More than 70 vendors will spread over the town center, selling holiday gift items, wreaths and delicious food and beverages to keep all members of the family in good spirits.

Collectors can pick up this year’s limited edition Christmas Town pewter ornament, which is only sold at the festival.

Christmas carolers and musicians will wander through the crowd setting the holiday scene.

The town’s beautifully maintained 18th century Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden, located at 9 Main Street North, will be festively decorated and open for tours. There will be hot cider for visitors and a scavenger hunt for the children.

The Rev. Joseph Bellamy, a leader of the Great Awakening, built the home in two stages; first in 1754 and in 1767. The gardens are largely the work of Miss Caroline Ferriday, whose parents bought the house in 1912. She grew up there, eventually taking care of the home and the gardens until her death when she deeded the property to Connecticut Landmarks.

The Bethlehem post office, located at 34 East St., will be open for business during the festival, so that visitors can mail their hand-stamped holiday cards to loved ones. The idea for the special stamps dates back to 1939 when the late Postmaster Earl Johnson, designed a “cachet,” a special rubber stamp featuring a tree and lettering that said, “From the Little Town of Bethlehem, Christmas Greetings.” New cachets have been designed almost every year since and now there are over 70 designs available. Nearly 200,000 cards are mailed each year from the post office. The office will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

An 18th-century Neapolitan crèche featuring hundreds of hand-carved figures made of wood, terra cotta and porcelain will be on display at the Abbey of Regina Laudis. The Abbey, located at 249 Flanders Rd., will be open from10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

A second crèche, The Lauren Ford Creche, will be on display in a farm shed near the Lower Abbey Chapel.  Crafts, cheeses, jams, herbal teas, flavored vinegars, herbs and honey will be for sale in the Monastic Art Shop in the Abbey.

Visitors can enter to with an iPad 2 by entering the 2013 Festival Photo Contest. Details are available online at

For more information visit the website or call 203-266-7510, ext. 300.


Connecticut's 'Christmas Town' Tree Lighting; Bethlehem Festival Starts Friday

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