Photo Courtesy of Woodstock Inn Resort

Christmas in New England

The North Eastern region of the United States, known as New England, is one of the prettiest, most idyllic regions in the whole country, all year round (and especially around Christmastime). New England is made up of six beautiful states: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Its Colonial past makes New England the birthplace of America, being the battleground of the American Revolution. Incredibly rich in history & culture, home to some of the best universities and museums in the country, amazing urban & rural life, idyllic villages, romantic lighthouses and covered bridges, scenic drives, outdoor activities all year round, New England has something for everyone.

With four distinct seasons, the Atlantic coastline is gorgeous anytime, especially during the summer. New England is famous for offering the best autumn foliage. And if you are ok with cold and snow, winters can be absolutely beautiful in New England, especially around the holidays. There is absolutely nothing more magical than winter in New England, with a full roster of Christmas activities to boost your spirit.

MAINE

Frozen lake

Also known as “the Pine Tree State” and “Vacationland,” Maine is by far the largest state in New England. Famous for its diverse landscapes and lighthouses, with lots of Also known as “the Pine Tree State” and “Vacationland,” Maine is by far the largest state in New England. Famous for its diverse landscapes and lighthouses, Maine has lots of forests & rocky coastline too. In fact, it’s coastline is even longer than California’s. Maine’s coastline is 3,478-miles! Maine is also known for its wild blueberries, producing about 99% of the nation’s wild blueberry crops. And of course it’s home to many beloved writers (Stephen King is the patron saint of Maine, and many of his stories take place within the state). Not to mention its decadent lobster (even though you might say there’s plenty of good lobster all over New England, you haven’t really tasted lobster until you’ve had the Maine lobster). One of Maine’s major landmarks is Acadia National Park, a 47,000-acre land along the Atlantic coast, on Mount Desert Island. It is a must-see!!!

The holidays in Maine are truly special. This is when old and new traditions, combined with great food and fun activities, create a magical season. During this time of the year, Maine is centered around festive performances, twinkling lights, and incredible events throughout all of December. If you plan to visit Maine in December, Kennebunkport is not just one of the most beloved Christmas towns in Maine, but in the whole of New England. The town is known for its Christmas Prelude at the beginning of December, a fantastic festival hosting events like the classic tree lighting celebration, Christmas house tours, craft fairs, outdoor markets, and a unique coastal Maine tradition: the lighting of the Lobster Trap Tree.

VERMONT

Famous for many things: its incredible mountains, ski resorts, craft beer, maple syrup, delicious food, idyllic villages with red barns, dairy farms, (Ben and Jerry’s ice cream company headquarters are located in Vermont), and Champy, the mythical Lake Champlain water monster, Vermont is the only inland state in the whole New England region. Also known as “the Green Mountain State,” Vermont is a real skier’s heaven. With 7,300 acres of alpine terrain, Vermont is the home of 20 alpine ski resorts across the state, with some of the most well known: Killington, Manchester, Stowe, and Mount Snow.

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Woodstock, VT. Photo by Sam Trombino

While beautiful all-year round, offering some of the most incredible autumn foliage, Vermont becomes a real North Pole during the winter.

While all towns & villages are really majestic during the holidays, there is nothing like Woodstock at Christmastime. The quaint town has a small downtown area that boasts local shops, a historic general store, and cute eateries.

 

 

Photo Courtesy of Woodstock Inn Resort

During its annual Wassail Weekend, this quintessential place turns into a winter wonderland, dominated by sleigh bells, caroling and Christmas cheer. Horse-drawn carriages by locals in period dress transport visitors back in time during the Wassail Parade. If you plan to visit Woodstock during Christmastime, you must stay at the Woodstock Inn & Resort (also known as “Vermont’s most beautiful address”).

 

NEW HAMPSHIRE
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NH, Photo by Julie Denby

Known as “The Granite State,” New Hampshire is considered the rebel of New England. Home of many politicians, New Hampshire is a very important political stage in the primaries, standing by the motto, “Live Free or Die”. With hills and mountains, ponds and lakes and rivers everywhere, The Granite State looks like a postcard all year round. If you drive around for an hour, it seems like almost every home in New Hampshire has its own pond. Magnificent mountains & ski resorts (White Mountains and its highest peak in the Northeast, Mount Washington, are some of the most popular) invite lots of tourists to New Hampshire every year. The White Mountains are home to the Appalachian Mountain Club’s High Huts and the historical Omni Mount Washington Resort & Hotel.

While being a beautiful state all year round, (like all the other New England states), New Hampshire truly becomes a winter wonderland during Christmastime. You can hear the sound of the carolers and the sleigh rides everywhere. With the splendid backdrop of pitoresc mountains and hillsides covered in evergreen trees and snow, New Hampshire comes alive with Christmas events, parades, tree lightings, craft fairs and heartfelt traditions.

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Portsmouth, NH. Photo credit: Katie & Colin Reno

There are lots of incredible towns in New Hampshire to visit during the Holidays, including Jackson, Canterbury, Conway, and Concord, where you can experience incredible Christmas events, horse-drawn sleigh rides and holiday railroad tours. But nothing is quite like the coastal city of Portsmouth during the holidays. Portsmouth is famous for hosting New Hampshire’s Vintage Christmas, a whole month of holiday activities, including the famous Illuminated Holiday Parade and the Annual Gingerbread House Contest.

Portsmouth is the third-oldest city in the United States, settled in 1623, which gives a very rich history and culture to the place. The colonial, Victorian and Georgian architecture give Portsmouth an incredible charm in particular, making it one of the prettiest places in all of New England.

 

MASSACHUSETTS
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Massachusetts, via Pixabay

Known as “The Bay State,” from the sandy beaches of Cape Cod, to the popular island communities on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, and skiing and beautiful autumn foliage in the western Berkshire Mountains, Massachusetts has it all. It is the most visited state in the region year round.

One of the original 13 colonies, (the second, to be precise), Massachusetts is incredibly rich in history and culture. Officially called a commonwealth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts is where the Pilgrims and Mayflower first put foot in America, which makes the Bay State so rich with America’s heritage.

Boston, the capital of Massachusetts, and Cambridge, are cultural hubs and home to top-notch universities, making Massachusetts the state with the highest number of most educated people in the country. Massachusetts was home of many previous presidents, (including John F. Kennedy and George HW Bush). It was also home to the first railroad in the United States (1826) and the first subway (1897). It was also the first state to legalize gay marriage.  The list of firsts goes on and on.

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Old State House, Boston, MA. Photo by Brian McWilliams

Like all the other beautiful New England states during the holidays, Massachusetts is another winter wonderland, offering a festive blend of laughs, caroling, and old fashioned New England traditions. No matter if you end up in Stockbridge, Newburyport, Nantucket, Edgartown, or even the big hub Boston, every single town has its own magic and traditions. Though Stockbridge is our favorite. The town inspired Norman Rockwell to paint the famous “Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas,” and the community has been paying tribute for generations, recreating that image live, year after year with Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas, which includes activities like a weekend celebration of caroling, holiday house tours, horse-drawn carriage rides, a visit with Santa, and a Sunday afternoon re-creation of Rockwell’s painting.

 

Like all the other beautiful New England states during the holidays, Massachusetts is another winter wonderland, offering a festive blend of laughs, caroling, and old fashioned New England traditions. No matter if you end up in Stockbridge, Newburyport, Nantucket, Edgartown, or even the big hub Boston, every single town has its own magic and traditions. Though Stockbridge is our favorite. The town inspired Norman Rockwell to paint the famous “Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas,” and the community has been paying tribute for generations, recreating that image live, year after year with Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas, which includes activities like a weekend celebration of caroling, holiday house tours, horse-drawn carriage rides, a visit with Santa, and a Sunday afternoon re-creation of Rockwell’s painting.

RHODE ISLAND
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Providence, Rhode Island. Photo credit: @adrian.globe.trekker

Even though it’s the smallest state in New England, and in the entire nation, Rhode Island has as much to offer as its larger neighbour states all year round. Home to some of the best Universities in the country including Brown University, Rhode Island also has a large number of educated residents. Known as “the Ocean State,” Rhode Island has about 400 miles of coast, satisfying even the most picky travelers and locals with its Colonial towns, wonderful restaurants and incredible summer coastal activities. But The Ocean State is not just a summer state, as its nickname might suggest. Rhode Island has four distinct seasons, the same as all its Northeastern neighbours, offering a lot with each season.

Christmas in Rhode Island is beyond magical, with festival markets, caroling and fabulous live performances that take the spirit of the season to a whole new level. Every town has its own traditions and charm, especially Newport and Providence, (the capital of Rhode Island). You can kick off the season with the City Hall Tree Lighting in downtown Providence.

Other spectacular events in Providence include Christmas at the Lippitt House, Winter Festival at the Carousel Village, A Christmas Carol-Trinity Rep, and of course you can’t miss the timeless holiday story of The Nutcracker told by local talent.

Newport, the shining gem of New England, famous for being a top summer destination, offers a particular Christmas coastal charm. Christmas at the Newport Mansions, running from mid-November through the new year, includes Santa Sundays and special performances of The Newport Nutcracker. Christmas in Newport is a month-long celebration with concerts, caroling and craft fairs, plus the magical holiday lantern walking tours.

CONNECTICUT

The southernmost state in New England, Connecticut played a major role in the development of the federal government of the United States with its Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. Written in 1639, it is considered the first written constitution, which gave the state the well deserved nickname “The Constitution State.” Connecticut has a few other nicknames, including “The Provisions State,” “The Land of Steady Habits,” and even “The Nutmeg State.” Home of Yale, Connecticut is famous for its old money and big taxes, thin-crust New Haven pizza, and home of Mark Twain, to name just a few.

Located between Boston and New York City, Connecticut is an amazing destination all year round. From sailing, to hiking and skiing, there is so much to do in Connecticut, no matter when you plan to visit. However, winter has its magic, like all New England states, especially around the holidays.. Many associate Christmas in the Nutmeg State with the classic 1945 movie, “Christmas in Connecticut,” and it makes sense why, as the reality is pretty close to the movie. Some of our favorite Christmas towns are Litchfield,  Bethlehem, Essex, Mystic and Greenwich, but no matter what place you pick, you won’t go wrong.

Settled in 1721, the Colonial-era town of Litchfield nestles in an Arcadian landscape. The small-town vibe, with its snowy hills and covered bridges as a backdrop, and its quaint downtown shops beautifully decorated for Christmas, offer an experience you’ll never forget. Events like the Annual Christmas Festival Weekend and Candlelight Carol Sing in the Pilgrim Hall make Christmas in Litchfield as authentic as possible. The live nativity features animals and people posing as the wise men, and Mary and Joseph. Absolutely a one of a kind experience.