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An Excruciatingly Opinionated Guide to the Shoreline

November 23, 2020
Fun / Holiday / Holiday Things To Do 2020

Things To Do For the Holidays 2020

Holiday Things To do

Here’s our relatively exhaustive list of pop-up boutiques, holiday events, concerts, teas, tree-lightings, strolls, and shops that do it up for the season.

Pop-Up Holiday Shops:

Artistry at the Guilford Art Center: A wide range of fine American crafters, artisans and jewelers are featured at this celebrated annual sale, open thru 1/3/21.

Florence Griswold Museum Shop is all stocked up with ornaments, children’s toys, books, jewelry and gifts for the holidays — complimentary gift-wrapping included. Through 12/24, save every day with Sleigh Days — featuring daily themed items at 10% off (15% off for members).

The Silver Skate Pop Up in Niantic: Any and all style of holiday decor and lots of nostalgia in this popup presented by Past to Present Collectibles.

High Hopes Virtual Market, thru 11/28: Get your holiday shopping in virtually this year, while supporting incredible therapeutic riding programs.

Wesleyan Potters Annual Exhibit and Sale: This annual sale is a must-see for ceramic lovers: 11/20 – 12/24, Mondays & Tuesdays, by appointment only. Wed – Fri 10-5, 12-6, 12-4

East Haddam Holiday Market, 11/28: A collection of artists, specialty artisan products, holiday-inspired vendors, prepared foods, and talented local musicians.

Maynard’s Christmas Shop (only open from Thanksgiving through Christmas) always gets me in the mood for decking the halls!

Guilford’s Farmers’ Market, hosted by The Dudley Foundation, Season Expanded until 12/19, Saturdays 10-1pm: This year, market vendors, farmers, makers, crafters are here to help with your holiday shopping needs. The markets will be “Open Air” and weather permitting.

Higganum Holiday Pop-Up Market: Christmas in the Country, thru 12/5: Handcrafted giftables at this huge pop-up in the Haddam Elementary School building at 272 Saybrook Road in Haddam.

Bishop’s Orchards Holiday Market, 11/28 from 11-2pm: An outdoor Holiday Market featuring CT artisans presented this year by Little Whimsey Boutique Bakery and Bishop’s. 

Home for Holidays Craft Fair, 11/28: Check out this Artisan Market featuring over 70 local crafters & artisans plus sidewalk food cart vendors at Westbrook Outlets. Non-perishable food items are accepted at the Hulafrog table for The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries.

Chester Holiday Market, Sundays from 10-1pm til 12/20, in Chester village, find Franks Wood Fired Pizza, The Hay House, Silver Thistle Farm, Wave Hill Bread and much more.

Title IX: A Pop-Up by Bank Square Books thru 12/24: Located at 345 State Street, known as The Cottage, on The Garde Arts Center property, this shop offers a curated selection of books ranging from bestsellers to children’s titles, with a focus on social justice themes in New London.

Decoration and Inspiration:

Looking for a little inspiration for decking the halls? Here are some favorite shops for everything from decorations to ribbons to greens.

Saybrook Home (formerly Saybrook Country Barn) is a feast of inspiration for the holidays, with room after room of ornaments, trees, swags, centerpieces, candles and gifts.

Madison Flower Shop, for trees, swags, greenery, centerpieces and an enormous selection of ribbons and ornaments.

R.J. Vickers Herbery, Chester for handmade, one-of-a-kind wreaths, topiary, ribbon and dried herbs and flowers.

Maynard’s Greenhouse, a fantasy land of fairy dust and holiday trimmings inside, and trees, roping, wreaths and greens outside.

Mar Floral‘s long-lasting arrangements are far from ordinary.


Get in the holiday mood with these upcoming events:

Madison Chamber’s Holiday Markets in Madison 11/28 – 12/19: a sampling of fine crafters, artisans and specialty food purveyors that will be adding to the festive feel this holiday season, as you enjoy the Magic of Madison..

Lantern Light Tours at Mystic Seaport, December 4-5, 11-12, 18-19:  Head to Mystic for an evening of outdoor, free-roaming experience designed to exemplify the differences between the modern and 19th-century holiday seasons. Take a journey through time as you seamlessly transition between the Christmas you experience today and the Christmas of the past.

Lighted Boat Parade, 11/28, Spectators flood both sides of the Mystic River to see the decorated ships pass by. 

Holiday Dinner Train, 11/27-12/23:  Enjoy a specially selected 4-course holiday meal aboard the elegant Essex Clipper, served in beautifully decorated 1920s Pullman dining cars pulled by a vintage diesel locomotive.

Festival of Trees – The Trees of Essex 11/27-12/12, Stroll through the historic villages of Essex amongst 23 holiday trees, decorated by local artisans, merchants and businesses.

Hillstead Museum’s Through the Tulle Holiday Exhibition Tours, 11/28 – 12/20, Delight in the magic of the season with costumes from BTC’s Through the Tulle costume exhibition, all carefully paired to highlight each period room’s Impressionist art, aesthetic, color palette, and mood. 

Ocean House Virtual Tree Lighting Ceremony, 11/28: Join OH on Facebook Live as we light the tree, and enjoy a musical performance and warm holiday greetings from the Ocean House team and Santa himself. Visit the Ocean House Facebook page, HERE, at 5 p.m. on November 28th to watch!

The Magic of Christmas at Florence Griswold Museum, 11/29 – 1/5: Enjoy Miss Florence’s Artist Trees, designer Fantasy Trees, and the Florence Griswold House decorated for a 1910 Christmas. Christmastime Teas, special events for families, hands-on crafts for children and adults, and wonderful items in The Shop bring holiday cheer. This year’s celebration features new twists on the traditional décor.

Holiday Events at The Kate: Tune into The Kate this season for virtual and in-person events from The Nutcracker to The Magic Flute.

Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish – The Musical, at The Shubert:11/27-12/27: This streaming video of the World Premiere, critically acclaimed performance is coming to your home this Holiday Season.

Family Portraits at the Mystic Seaport Museum with CT photographer Anna Sawin: Mystic Seaport Museum has partnered with photographer Anna Sawin to offer family portrait sessions on 11/27. Make your memories last with a beautiful family portrait set along the scenic waterfront.

Santa’s Trolley Winter Wonderland, from 11/27 through 12/20, check the website for exact dates and times. Come and take a ride to visit Santa on his special trolley car which he’s set up for social distancing. Tickets can be purchased online.

Annual Holiday Train Show at CT River Museum through 2/14: Bring the whole family to this 27th Anniversary exhibit, created by train artist Steve Cryan, featuring more trains, new scenery, and lots of surprises in the fully operational 26-foot model train layout.

Holiday Carnival at Olde Mistick Village, 12/5: Stroll throughout the Village with FREE entertainment all afternoon.

Ivoryton Playhouse Presents a Community Story Project: A Christmas Quilt of Memories, From Thanksgiving to New Year, Ivoryton Playhouse will feature holiday stories from the community through songs and scenes and performed by actors on video and in squares of a patchwork quilt.

Hip Hop Nutcracker, Streaming from the Bushnell, 12/13: A virtual holiday mash-up for the whole family! A re-mixed and re-imagined version of the classic featuring a contemporary dance spectacle set to Tchaikovasky’s timeless music.

Made In Connecticut, Celebrating 25 Years of the CT Art Trail at the Wadsworth, In celebration of this milestone anniversary Made in Connecticut brings together works of art and objects from the collections of each of the Art Trail member institutions.

Lantern Light Village at Mystic Seaport,12/4-5, 12/11-12, 12/18-19:  Enjoy festive lighting displays, live music, horse-and-carriage rides, fire pits, a visit from St. Nicholas, and more. Interact with the denizens of our 19th-century village as they prepare for Christmas Eve and join them in their end-of-the-year festivities at Lantern Light Village.

Fondue at Ocean House’s Gondola Village This luxuriously cozy private dining venue offers a satisfying four-course lunch and dinner menu of Alpine delicacies served alongside vintage selections of Veuve Clicquot champagnes. Winter aprés ski menu offered through 3/31/2021.

Expanding Horizons: Celebrating 20 Years of the Hartford Steam Boiler Collection at the Florence Griswold, thru 3/23/2021(24-hour advance ticketing required) In celebration of its 20th year, enjoy the Hartford Steam Boiler’s 190-piece gift that instantly broadened, both geographically and chronologically the Museum, to include artists working in every corner of Connecticut from the 18th- to the mid-20th century. 

Holiday Lights Spectacular at Olde Mistick Village Stroll through walkways brilliantly lit by thousands of luminaries. With live entertainment and complimentary treats in the Meeting House, there’s something for the whole family to enjoy. All shops will be open!

The Snowflake Soiree at The Hillstead Museum, 12/11: Ballet Theatre Company’s resident professional dancers will present excerpts of the company’s production, The Nutcracker Reimagined in an exclusive, private performance in Hill-Stead’s Makeshift Theater.

Shubert Theatre Presents Next Stop: New Haven at Home Holiday Edition, 12/13: This special holiday fundraiser features a 45-minute virtual program, hosted by a very special guest from the North Pole, including a holiday-themed trivia game, musical entertainment from a Broadway rising star, Christmas carols, a theatre-related holiday craft and other surprise guests.

The Kate Virtual Concert to Benefit the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries, 12/15: Recorded at The Kate and available virtually for all to enjoy, this concert will feature George Winston, The Meadows Brothers, Ebin-Rose Trio and more.



Stroll the Shoreline:

Holiday strolls in Shoreline villages feature Santa visits, sleigh rides, caroling, tree lightings and special events in the shops. Here are some dates:

Niantic Holiday Stroll on 11/28

Madison on 11/28

Groton on 12/5

Chester on 12/4

Ivoryton Illuminations starts Thanksgiving Weekend

Mystic Holiday Lighted Boat Parade on 11/27-28

Stonington on 12/4-12/12

Niantic/East Lyme Light Parade on 12/12

Branford Virtual Tree Lighting, 12/1


Holiday Teas

Nothing we like better than to take a break from the holidaze with an afternoon spent sipping and snacking!

Florence Griswold Museum Christmastime Teas, Tuesdays thru Saturdays at 2-4pm. Scones, tea sandwiches, and cookies with Miss Florence’s Tea. $40 includes museum admission and 10% off at the Museum Store. 12/3 – 28

Hill-Stead Holiday Tea + Tour, 11/26 through 12/24. Guided tours through the house followed by a half-hour tea service for groups from 10 to 25 people. Reservations required.

Savvy Tea is offering Holiday Afternoon Teas in their Madison tearoom.  Celebrate with friends and family enjoying fancy tier trays with delicate tea sandwiches, fresh baked holiday pastries and treats, quiches and scones with clotted cream and jam. 6 different teas are poured tableside. $40 per person with advance reservations. Reserve by 12/5 (credit card requested at the time of reservation to hold the party). 203.318.8666





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