Stroll Into Cheer
Our towns have plans for you during this holiday season
One highlight of Williamstown’s holiday festivities is the Reindog Parade, which hits the streets at 3 p.m. on Saturday, December 3.
Photo by Art Evans
Candles flicker along sidewalks, and in lighted doorways people spontaneously begin to sing. Main streets across the county will brighten with holiday walks, many of them taking inventive turns this year. A Bavarian market is coming to Williamstown with apple strudel and hot drinks. In Lenox, nightlife will expand into shops and pubs, and actors in the streets will drop casually into characters from Shakespeare and It’s a Wonderful Life. In Stockbridge, “Norman Rockwell” will pose for selfies. And an onsite wood carving is coming to Great Barrington, adding to the well-known attractions that include living windows, bonfires, and fireworks.
After years of varying holiday events, Lenox is expanding into a full “Making Spirits Bright” weekend, December 2 to 4. Last year, as a volunteer, Kameron Spaulding worked with local merchants to start a pub crawl. Now, as the chamber’s director, Spaulding is committed to widening the celebration.
The weekend will begin on Friday evening with parties in downtown shops, as well as the annual tree lighting and family celebration. Local restaurants and pubs—Heritage Tavern, Firefly, Frankie’s, Bagel and Brew and others—will join in the bar crawl to benefit a local charity. On Saturday, downtown Lenox will host a Holiday Stroll with around 36 shops and galleries. Shakespeare & Company and WAM Theatre actors will perform, along with local choirs, and Nejaime’s Wine Cellars will hold a holiday-extravaganza tasting party to round out the day.
That same Saturday in north county, apple strudel and mulled cider will add spice and warmth to Williamstown’s Spring Street. Emily Watts, executive director of the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce, is adding a German flavor to this year’s 32nd Annual Holiday Walk.
Watts remembers pastries, bratwurst, and spiced cider that she experienced on a walk through a holiday market in Bavaria. “It was like a fairytale,” she recalls, with gingerbread houses and the Black Forest for backdrop, wooden ornaments and people milling companionably among the booths and stalls. That unique warmth is something she wants to create in Williamstown, in partnership with the Rotary Club.
In addition to the Bavarian-style market, the Holiday Walk will return with the Reindog Parade at 3 p.m., complete with a procession of costumed dogs and their families. Draft horses will give wagon rides in the afternoon, and there will be hands-on art with the Makers Mill and a soup cook-off. Habitat for Humanity will hold its tree showcase beside A Better Community’s jewelry sale of vintage, craft, and handmade pieces, which will benefit programs and organizations in the Northern Berkshires that support at-risk youth and families and address hunger, poverty and inequality. Local actors Jeffrey Welch and Drew Gibson will give a live reading of A Christmas Carol, and Images Cinema will screen Elf. .
Flickering lights will line the street in Stockbridge from December 2 to 4, 2016 as the 27th annual Main Street at Christmas evokes an earlier time.
It all kicks off in true holiday traditional style on Friday, December 2, at 5 p.m. with the reading around the hearth at the Stockbridge Library. The annual house tour on Saturday, December 3, will welcome visitors to Ventfort Hall—decked out for a Gilded Age holiday—the Gateways Inn, and several Stockbridge properties, including the newly renovated Stockbridge Library and the Whitney House near IS183, says Barbara Zanetti, executive director of the Stockbridge Chamber of Commerce.
In the evening, local musicians Terri Bausch and Lisa Anderson will lead caroling, beginning in front of the Red Lion Inn. Everyone is welcome to join in as the carolers head up Main Street to the annual Christmas Concert with Berkshire Lyric and the Blafield Children’s Chorus.
On Sunday, Stockbridge hosts a family festival with horse-drawn carriage rides, a food booth, live entertainment, and the annual re-creation of Norman Rockwell’s 1967 painting of the downtown, with antique and classic cars lining the street. The Londontown Carolers will appear in Dickensian top hats, the Norman Rockwell Museum will host artmaking, and “Rockwell” will appear for photo ops along with familiar scenes from his paintings.
The holiday strolling continues the following Saturday, December 10, in Great Barrington for the eighth annual event that culminates in a countdown to a tree lighting and fireworks. Earlier in the day, Ken Packie, artist and woodworker from Otis, will sculpt as the crowd watches, and bonfires at each end of the street will provide a place to warm up—or dance. Berkshire Bateria will keep a live beat around one fire, and food vendors and booths will surround the other.
WSBS radio station will broadcast holiday music, and a hay ride from Taft Farms will show off the living windows up and down Main Street, as shop windows display actors in holiday scenes—the Grinch, dancers, angels, reindeer games, elves building toys, and children stringing popcorn while visions of sugar plums dance in their heads.
Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas, Dec. 2-4,
Lenox’s Making Spirits Bright, Dec. 2-4,
Holiday Walk and Reindog Parade, Dec. 3,
Holiday Stroll, Dec. 10,