The E List

An Excruciatingly Opinionated Guide to the Shoreline

November 22, 2021

Things To Do for the Holidays 2021


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


Pop-Up Holiday Shops:

Artistry at the Guilford Art Center – Over 300 fine American crafters, artisans and jewelers are featured at this celebrated annual sale, open thru 1/9/20. Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10:00am-5:30pm and Sunday 12-5pm.

Florence Griswold Museum Shop is all stocked up with ornaments, children’s toys, books, jewelry and gifts for the holidays — complimentary gift-wrapping included. Online shopping, too!

Hill-Stead for the Holidays, Hill-Stead Museum, 11/26 – 1/5: Beginning the day after Thanksgiving and continuing through early January, the former Pope family mansion is decorated for the holidays. The Annual Holiday Boutique features 25 artists and crafters who bring their best to this two-day sale, 12/4 – 12/5. Preregistration required for boutique.

Wesleyan Potters Annual Exhibit and Sale:  This is a must-see for ceramic lovers: 11/26 – 12/12, Wednesday thru Sunday 10 – 6, Friday 10 – 8.

East Haddam Holiday Market, Friday, 11/26 – 4pm – 8pm. A collection of artists, specialty artisan products, holiday-inspired vendors, prepared foods, and talented local musicians

White Gate Farm Holiday Markets, East Lyme, 12/19, 9 – 3pm, Organic produce, pizza and treats, live music, farm gift items, artisan vendors, farm photo ops!

Stone Acres Farm Holiday Markets, 11/20 – 12/31: Beginning November 20th the farm-stand will offer perfect holiday gifts crafted by local artisans, holiday hams from JW Beef, and local Christmas trees!!

The Christmas Barn, A European Style Christmas Market, 11/26 – 11/28, noon to 4pm, 20 local artists and craftsman convene in the barn at 9 Farmview Lane, Guilford.

Wadsworth Mansion Holiday Bazaar, Middletown: 12/5, 10 – 3pm:  Featured vendors from the Open Air Market will be selling handmade products and unique holiday gifts for your family and friends.

Holiday Shopping Extravaganza at Chester Meeting House, 12/3:  Peruse the wares of some of the area’s most talented, hand-picked artisans. Enjoy live music and local food in an old-fashioned holiday shopping experience at the historical Chester Meeting House.

Holiday Market at the Westbrook Outlets, 11/27, 10 – 4pm

Colchester Sip & Shop Holiday Market, 11/27, 4 – 8pm: Features some wonderful artisans with an array of eclectic products such as jewelry, pottery, woodwork, clothing, skin and body care products, farmer-canned goods, holiday decorations, prepared foods, Sitting with Santa, and more.

Historical Society Christmas Fair at Parmelee Farm, Killingworth  12/4, 8:30 – 3pm. Parmelee Farmhouse will be transformed into a holiday boutique with lots of handmade items crafted by members, including live arrangements, baked goods, holiday decor, gift items, knitted accessories.

Dudley Farm Museum Open House and Holiday Market, 12/4, 12/5, 12/11, 12/12. Visit their website for current info.

Higganum Holiday Pop-Up Market, 11/27 – 12/12: Handcrafted giftables at this huge pop-up in the Haddam Elementary School building at 272 Saybrook Road in Haddam.

Chester Holiday Market, 11/28,12/5, 12/12, 12/19: You’ll find farmers on the sidewalks and special events and menus in the shops and restaurants. In addition Mrs. Clause will be strolling the Village, spreading holiday cheer! 10m – 1pm


Get in the holiday mood with these upcoming events:

Menorah Lighting and Fireshow on the Guilford Green, 11/28, 4pm: Start the holiday right with the annual menorah lighting on the Guilford Green. Join the Jewish community with a fire show, holiday treats and music.

Opera CT presents Amahl and The Night Visitors at Hillstead, 12/12 at 2:00pm

North Pole Express at Essex Steam Train, Limited tix still available: 11/19 – 12/23:: Enjoy the spirit of the season as you relax with family and friends aboard festive railway cars adorned with vintage decorations.

Madison Chamber’s Ladies Shopping Night in Madison 12/2, from 5 – 8pm.: Specials and events at participating shops in Madison.

A Bing Crosby Christmas at The Goodspeed, 12/9 – 12/12: ‘Tis the season to be jolly as Broadway baritone Jared Bradshaw celebrates America’s favorite crooner Bing Crosby.

Lantern Light Tours at Mystic Seaport, 12/10 – 12/22:  Lantern Light Village is an outdoor, free-roaming experience designed to exemplify the differences between the modern and 19th century holiday seasons. Enjoy festive lighting displays, live music, horse and carriage rides, fire pits, a visitation from St. Nicolas, and more including holiday themed stories, crafts, and games! 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!

Ocean House Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, 11/27, 5:00pm: Ignite the Christmas Spirit at Ocean House’s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and Christmas Village. Santa Claus will make his big arrival on a fire truck plus fireworks! Seasonal snacks, alcoholic (cash bar) and nonalcoholic beverages will be available.

Holiday Lighted Boat Parade & Santa Arrives by Tugboat in Mystic on 11/27:  Santa Claus is coming to town and so is Mystic’s Holiday Lighted Boat Parade in Historic Downtown Mystic. Thousands gather at the Mystic River Park to watch Santa arrive at 2 pm on a 60’ tugboat, the John Paul.

Holidays at The Little Red Barn at Bishop’s Orchards, 12/4 & 5 and 12/11 & 12 from 10am to 4pm. The Bishop’s Orchards Little Red Bar[n] will be turning into Santa’s Workshop. This holiday season enjoy two weekends on the farm, filled with cookie decorating, ornament making and a special visit from Santa himself! Kids tickets will include all activities, as well as free candid photos with Santa. The Wine Barn will be serving adult beverages, snacks and hot drinks. Make an afternoon of it and purchase a s’mores kit to enjoy a special treat at one of our bonfires. Shop around the Little Red Barn for home goods and seasonal favorites!

Holiday Magic at Florence Griswold Museum, 11/26 – 1/2: This year’s celebration features new twists on the traditional décor. Imagine a fictional mantel-decorating contest in the Griswold boardinghouse between the historic Lyme Art Colony artists. Inspired by their paintings, they rummage through their studios as well as old trunks in Miss Florence’s attic for festive objets d’art and holiday decorations. Miss Florence announces the winner and awards ribbons on her birthday—Christmas Day! In addition to the traditional decorations, three 🎄🎄🎄Fantasy Trees add bespoke sparkle in the historic house. In the Krieble Gallery, over 220 painted 🎨 palettes, including a dozen new ones created this year, adorn four stunning 🌲🌲🌲🌲 Artist Trees.

Winter Wonder Day at Lyman Allyn Free First Saturday, 12/4, 11 – 3pm. Start your holiday season with a visit to Winter Wonder Day at the Lyman Allyn! Learn about different cultural holiday traditions, create great holiday crafts, contribute to a community artwork, explore the museums exhibitions, take your photo with Santa, and more!

Musical Masterworks, 12/11 – 12/12: Immerse yourself in MM’s performance: Dvořák: Terzetto in C Major for Two Violins and Viola, Opus 74, Shostakovich: Piano Quintet in g minor, Opus 57and more at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. Tickets still available for 12/11.

Cappella Cantorum Hallelujah!,12/5, 3pm: Performing Handel’s Messiah Part One (the Christmas section) and the Hallelujah at First Church of Christ Congregational, 366 Main St., Old Saybrook.

Legacy Theater, Stony Creek presents A Christmas Carol, 12/1 – 12/12

Essex Winter Series, BeethovenFest, 12/19, Celebrating Beethoven’s 250th anniversary with world-renowned artists.

Live@SaintAnn’s, Old Lyme, presents the return of The New Consort for its first-ever holiday concert in Connecticut! Join this world-class vocal ensemble, founded by Lyme native Brian Mummert, to ring in the season with A Close Harmony Christmas. The program features both gems of the holiday canon and new Christmas classics from the classical, pop, and jazz worlds, sure to delight music lovers of all ages.

Deck the Walls at Lyme Art Association, 11/19 – 1/2: Juried exhibit.

Messiah Sing Along at The Kate,12/19, 4pm: Participate in the sounds of the season with a Kate holiday tradition. Open to all who want to sing-along, the MessiahSing combines Cappella Cantorum’s professional soloists with a chorus of talented volunteers. Sit in the back and listen or sit down front and participate. Singers should arrive at 3:30 for section seating and rehearsal.Sit in the back and listen.

A Christmas Survival Guide at  Ivoryton Playhouse, 12/2 – 12/19: This intimate revue takes a wry and knowing look at a stressful season. Armed with a copy of A Christmas Survival Guide and an optimistic attitude, the characters charge into an urban holiday landscape searching for the true essence of Christmas. In songs and vignettes, they learn to cope with the season in hilarious and heartwarming ways.  Traditional Christmas songs with a contemporary twist.

Con Brio Christmas Concerts at Christ The King Church, Old Lyme on 12/10 at 7pm and 12/12 at 3pm: Don’t miss the shoreline’s renowned all auditioned chorus presenting Gloria.

New Haven Tree Lighting & Holiday Village, 12/2 – 12/4 Join the City of New Haven for their official Tree Lighting Ceremony, followed by festive activities on the New Haven Green Thursday, December 2. Shop small at The New Haven Holiday Village, featuring more than a dozen local businesses on The New Haven Green.

Ice Carving Competition & A Cappella Concert, 12/12 from 12 – 4pm. 6 professional ice carvers from all over New England will each transform 900lbs of ice into a spectacular sculpture in only 4 hours on Broadway Island (56 Broadway), across from Apple/L.L.Bean/lululemon. Great photo opportunities with the sculptures after the event. Vote on your favorite and automatically be entered to win one of five $50 gift cards!

The Nutcracker at The Garde, 12/11 – 12/12: Get tickets to see this holiday favorite performed by Eastern CT Ballet at The Garde.

The Shubert, New Haven: A Charlie Brown Christmas, New Haven Ballet’s Nutcracker and Hip Hop Nutcracker are among the holiday events at the Shubert.

Santa’s Visits the Shoreline Trolley Museum Weekends from 11/26 – 12/19

Annual Holiday Train Show at CT River Museum 11/23 through 2/20, 10am – 5pm Bring the whole family to this 28th 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 Lights at Olde Mistick Village, 11/19 – 1/31/22: The Holiday Lights Spectacular returns to Olde Mistick Village! The largest holiday light display in southern New England begins on November 19th and will run through the end of January 2021. Over a half-million lights will decorate the Olde Mystic Village square of shops and restaurants for families and holiday enthusiasts to enjoy.

Lyme Academy of Fine Arts First Annual Holiday Enchantment and Tree Lighting, 12/4
Gather on the campus of the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts from 1-5pm for an afternoon of festive outdoor activities including art demonstrations, live musical performances, food and drinks by the fire, ornament and luminary making guided by Lyme Academy artists, cookie decorating, 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 11/27 from 11 – 7pm: Enjoy store specials, sales and giveaways while shopping local this Small Business Saturday from 11am to 7pm. Stop by the Food Truck court to warm up with delicious bites. Go on the hunt for some mischievous elves in the shop windows with our Mermaid Elf Trail. (We hear they’ve dressed as mermaids to help blend in.) Stay tuned for details.

Christmas Tree Lighting on Madison Town Green, 12/10, 6 – 7pm: with live music, hot chocolate and a visit from Santa.

Menorah Lighting and Fireshow on the Guilford Green, 11/28, 4PM: Start the holiday right with the annual menorah lighting on the Guilford Green. Join the Jewish community with a fire show, holiday treats and music.

New Haven Tree Lighting on 12/2, 5:30pm

First Friday in Chester/Starry NIGHT on 12/3, 5 – 8PM.Starry Nights are back!! Please join the Merchants of Chester for an extra special First Friday celebration! In addition to new exhibitions, exiting seasonal menus & ice cream flavors, live music and great shopping, the starts will be lit, all at once at 5:45pm!! Come out to Main Street for this exciting event and stay for shopping and dinner. Santa arrives on the firetruck at 6:15pm.

Stonington Village Holiday Stroll on 12/3 at 5:30.

Ivoryton Illuminations, throughout the month of December, Ivoryton lights up with 500,000 lights!

Groton Holiday Kickoff on 12/4, 5 – 7pm

Westbrook on 12/5

East Lyme on 11/27

Mystic on 12/7

Old Saybrook Starlight Festival  on 12/4

Deep River on 12/4

Niantic/East Lyme Light Parade on 12/11 at 6pm.

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.

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




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