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Old Sturbridge Village | A Christmas by Candlelight Celebration

Last December I finally made the trek to Old Sturbridge during their Christmas by Candlelight celebration.  It’s about an hour and 40 minute ride from my hometown to Sturbridge, Massachusetts, and the roads were busy, my stress level was climbing, and I’m pretty sure I was getting on my sweet-tempered husband’s nerves by offering driving advice from the passenger’s seat.  Pretty sure.  But once we parked the car in the expansive lot and made our way into the Village, the unhurried pace, the subtle sparkle created by white lights and candlelight, combined with the historic charm of the place worked its magic.

From the Village entrance, the Fenno Barn and House are in view--the oldest structures in the Village (c. 1725).

From the Village entrance, the Fenno Barn and House are in view–the oldest structures in the Village (c. 1725).

During these weekends, the Village doesn’t open until the event begins (4pm-9pm, Dec. 13-15, and Dec. 20-22).  If possible, I recommend purchasing tickets via the Web site to avoid waiting in line, and arrive near opening so you can experience the transition from dusk to dark of night.  Also, there’s so much to do and you’ll want to see it all.

OSV keeps you engaged through activities and demonstrations, and interactions with the costumed village folk at any time of year.  The Christmas by Candlelight weekends are no different—just infused with an added glimpse into the history of today’s holiday traditions, and sprinkled with some pure Christmas spirit.  Dramatic readings of classic Christmas tales hold the attention of young and old—nary an audience member was stirring on my visit, not even a mouse…(sorry, couldn’t resist).

There were candy samples, and gingerbread samples, and the craftsmen were working away in the Tin Shop and Printing Office. Victorian carolers filled the crisp air with song, a horse-drawn sleigh offered an alternative to travel by foot as it made its way around the common—and this year you’ll discover all this plus cider making, puppet and magic shows, music and dance, visits with Father Christmas, of course, and much more.  As you can see from the photos, my visit last year was devoid of snow–that is likely not to be the case for visitors this year.

Top: Victorian carolers in front of the c. 1835 Thompson Bank, built in Greek-revival style. Bottom: Villagers warm up by the bonfire, with the horse-drawn sleigh in the background.

Top: Victorian carolers in front of the c. 1835 Thompson Bank, built in Greek-revival style. Bottom: Villagers warm up by the bonfire, with the horse-drawn sleigh in the background.

The c. 1796 Salem Towne House was relocated to Old Sturbridge Village in 1952. It represents a more upscale residence from its era.

The c. 1796 Salem Towne House was relocated to Old Sturbridge Village in 1952. It represents a more upscale residence from its era.

The dining table is set in the parlor of the Salem Towne House.

The dining table is set in the parlor of the Salem Towne House.

 

The c. 1796 Salem Towne House displays traditional mid 19th century holiday decorations--and even the cows enjoy the candlelit evening.

The c. 1796 Salem Towne House displays traditional mid 19th century holiday decorations–and even the cows enjoy the candlelit evening.

Yes, those are electical lights on the Fitch House fence--it's ok, just go with it.

Yes, those are electical lights on the Fitch House fence–it’s ok, just go with it.

Before heading home, stop by the Visitor Center to admire the creative gingerbread displays entered in the annual competition.  Vote for your favorite!

A winter wonderland made of gingerbread.

A winter wonderland made of gingerbread.

Who can resist a classic New England lighthouse--made from gingerbread?

Who can resist a classic New England lighthouse–made from gingerbread?

Feeling holiday frenzied?  Try a dose of Old Sturbridge Village’s annual Christmas by Candlelight.

Want more historic Christmas? Check out our Best of New England post on Best Historic Christmas Celebrations in New England!

Debbie Despres

Author:

Debbie Despres

Biography:

Debbie Despres is an associate editor for the magazine. Deb is the primary fact checker for Yankee Magazine and also contributes content to each issue. A member of YPI’s corporate staff since 2000, Deb joined Yankee’s editorial team in 2011. A native of New Hampshire, with a work history that includes several years in the travel industry, she enjoys discovering new destinations, and the myriad of road trip opportunities unique to New England.
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