It’s officially the holiday season here in Hartford, and our city is bursting at the seams with activities for everyone old and young, naughty and nice. Read on to learn more about this year’s Hartford holiday happenings.
There’s nothing more heartwarming than watching little ones experience the joy of the holiday season.
Photo by @theiquiltplan
Winterfest is one of our city’s most celebrated holiday traditions, bringing free ice skating, free skate rentals, and more to Bushnell Park through January 9th. You can check out their special events here, which include free skating lessons, photos with Santa, giant games, and musical performances.
If art is what interests your family most, you will not want to miss the Festival of Trees and Traditions at the Wadsworth Atheneum. Every year community members, artists and organizations decorate holiday trees and wreaths to be displayed in the galleries throughout the week. Make your plans quickly—this show only lasts until Sunday, December 12th.
On Saturday, December 18th from 10:00 am–1:00 pm, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be making an appearance at the Ebony Horsewomen Equestrian Center in the North End. Guests can say hello to their holiday horses and elven helpers and will receive gifts and candy canes, along with other festive fun. Admission is free, and you can learn more here.
The holidays in Hartford wouldn’t be complete without the Holiday Light Fantasia in Goodwin Park. Pack your family (and furry friends) into the car and be transported to a wonderland of holiday spirit with a show featuring over one million lights. The light show celebrates not only Christmas, but Hanukkah, New Year, and Three Kings Day. You can check out the show Thursdays–Sundays until January 2nd.
Looking for a gift for that special someone? Shopping local has never been easier with the holiday markets popping up all over the city.
Winterfair: Hartford’s Holiday Market is a family-friendly shopping experience that takes place weekly until New Year’s Eve. This 23-day market is a place for local makers, creatives, and crafters to share their talents with the local community, all to shop small and local this holiday season.
Real Art Ways’ Creative Cocktail Hour returns on December 16th from 6:00 pm–10:00 pm with a holiday maker’s market. Vendors will be selling jewelry, apparel, art prints, soaps, and other artisan products. It will also feature four art exhibitions, and music by Big Yuki, Reptar the Man, and DJ Mr. Realistic.
On Saturday, December 18th, Parkville Market will be hosting their Winter Wonderland event, which will feature pop-up shops all across the second floor for last-minute gifts. Activities for families include pictures with Santa, face painting, a hot chocolate station, and gingerbread house decorating. For those who are 21+, specialty holiday cocktails will be served at the back bar, a live comedy show will take place in The Brick Room, and Mike McKeys will be performing live in The Local.
What’s the holiday season without seeing a festive show? Hartford’s finest theaters have you covered!
TheaterWorks Hartford is back in person with their holiday classic, Christmas on the Rocks. Connecticut's twisted holiday tradition shines the spotlight on your favorite kids from Christmas stories, but now they’re all grown up and pouring out their Christmas woes. You can get tickets here.
This year, Hartford Stage has veered away from their annual production of A Christmas Carol, and is putting on a new production of It’s a Wonderful Life. The audience will be transported to a festive recreation of a 1940’s radio broadcast. The story of the Bailey Family, the greedy Mr. Potter, Clarence the Angel, and the residents of Bedford Falls merrily come to life with a versatile cast of radio players, a live sound effects artist, period music and costumes, and charming throwback commercials. Tickets are available here.
The Bushnell has a full month of festive programming planned. On December 11th in Mortensen Hall, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra will present their Holiday Cirque, featuring holiday music performed by the HSO set to astonishing feats performed by the Cirque de la Symphonie. The Ballet Theatre Company will perform The Nutcracker in the Belding Theater on December 11th and 12th. On December 17th, Hip Hop Nutcracker returns to The Bushnell, with a re-mixed and re-imagined version of the classic show. Finally, Jim Brickman, Grammy-nominated songwriter and pianist will perform The Gift of Christmas as part of his annual holiday tour. Tickets to all performances can be purchased here.
The holidays don’t stop at Christmas—here in Hartford, we celebrate through the New Year!
In case you haven’t heard, J Restaurant & Bar is the secret spot to be on New Year’s Eve. Restaurant owner Jordan Dikegoros recognized the need to expand his patio at the beginning of the pandemic, and he did not disappoint. On top of the beautiful interior of his restaurant, you can ring in the New Year on their sheltered patio, which includes four private heated gazebos, tables with personal fire pits and heaters, or their raised deck area, also complete with more heat than you can imagine. The restaurant does a live ball drop on the hour, every hour, with a radio host emceeing the evening. If you’re looking for an incredibly special and delicious COVID-safe New Year’s Eve experience, look no further than J Restaurant.
First Night Hartford returns to Downtown this year with in-person activities and programming, as well as remote access. While a full list of events still has not been announced, we do know that there will be a fireworks show in Bushnell Park at 6:00 pm and midnight!
Two-holiday traditions take place on the other side of the New Year—don’t miss them!
On January 6th, the Three Kings Day Parade will take place on Park Street, traveling down to Pope Park, and ending in the recreation center where gifts will be given out! The parade features live camels and actors dressed as Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar.
Asylum Hill Congregational Church’s annual Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival will return both in-person and streaming this year on January 8th at 3:00 pm This medieval celebration features elaborate costumes, amazing dancing, incredible music, and live animals—including a camel.
It’s a packed holiday season here in Hartford—we hope to see you out and about in our Capitol City!