Archive for the ‘Connecticut’ Category

Bethlehem, Connecticut, Offers Festive Start to the Holiday Season

November 30, 2013

They call this little town in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut “Christmas Town” with good reason. Bethlehem’s 33rd annual Christmas Town Festival scheduled for December 6 and 7, is one of New England’s favorite ways to kick off the season. Wherever you turn, special treats are waiting, from the town green to the post office to the Abbey of Regina Laudis and the 1754 Bellamy-Ferriday House, and some of the distinctive attractions continue when the festival is over.

Bethlehem’s quaint town green, centered with a giant tree, is offers over 70 vendors with gift items, wreaths and foods for sale, strolling carolers and musicians. Santa is at the firehouse to pose for pictures and everyone is invited to climb aboard for hayrides offered in front of First Church. Collectors can garner this year’s unique limited edition Christmas Town pewter ornament, sold only during the Festival.

Bethlehem’s beautiful 18th century Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden is festively decorated and open for guided tours, hot cider and a scavenger hunt for children (9 Main Street North,

Hours for the Christmas Town Festival are Friday, December 6 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday, December 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, see or phone 203-266-7510, ext. 300.

Christmas Town Mailings at the Post Office

As you can imagine, the Bethlehem post office is especially busy in December serving the many who come every year to mail holiday cards with the special postmarks.  Visitors can select favorites among the “Christmas Cachet” designs, hand-stamp and mail these unique greetings to friends and family. The idea of the special stamps dates to 1938, when a local Postmaster, the late Earl Johnson, designed a “cachet,” a special rubber stamp featuring a tree and lettering that said “From the Little Town of Bethlehem, Christmas Greetings.” New cachets have been added almost every year since. Over 70 designs are now available and nearly 200,000 cards are mailed each year from this small post office.  Located at 34 East Street, the post office will have extended hours during the festival, Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Precious Crèches at the Abbey

One of Bethlehem’s not-to-be-missed jewels is open all month. The museum-quality 18th century Neapolitan crèche on view in a vintage barn at the Abbey of Regina Laudis includes hundreds of beautiful hand-carved figures. Made of wood, terra cotta, and porcelain, the figures portray the Holy Family, angels, the Three Kings, merchants and peddlers, children, peasants and farm animals.  This fabulous gift from artist and philanthropist Loretta Hines Howard is similar to the one Howard donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it is prominently displayed every Christmas.

A second Crèche, The Lauren Ford Crèche, created by a favorite Connecticut artist, is displayed in a farm shed near the Lower Abbey Chapel. This charming rustic Nativity scene displays figures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph dressed in typical New England garb.

The Monastic Art Shop on the property offers crafts, cheeses, jams, herbal teas, flavored vinegars, herbs and honey, and all created on site by the Abbey’s residents.

The Abbey of Regina Laudis, located at 249 Flanders Road, is open to visitors daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit

For more information, contact the Western Connecticut Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, 860-567-4506, or visit

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November 4, 2010

The Berkshires: Norman Rockwell's studio in Stockbridge, in the Berkshires, one of the attractions that can be visited during a stay at historic Rock Hall © 2010 Karen Rubin/

The weeks leading up to Christmas can be stressful, so Rock Hall Luxe Lodging, an historic luxury property located in the bucolic Litchfield Hills/Southern Berkshires, has created a pre-Christmas package, valid through December 23rd, that enables guests to prepare for the holiday season while also enjoying some rest and relaxation.

The pre-holiday package includes a VIP Coupon Book for the Lee Premium Outlets in Lee, MA (located 25 miles away) where guests can find a wide array of gifts for friends and family, as well as treats for themselves.  Guests also receive a certificate for a complimentary cut-your-own Christmas Tree at nearby Up Country Farms, which offers a selection of Blue Spruce, Balsam and Frazier Firs ranging from four to 12 feet.  In addition, guests can enjoy a Rock Hall Signature Massage (one per guest).  Those participating in the package will also enjoy a 10 percent discount on items in the Rock Hall boutique, which features unique gift items from across the globe.

Guests staying at Rock Hall over the eight nights of Hanukah (December 1 – 8) will enjoy complimentary homemade latkes (potato pancakes) each evening along with a traditional candle lighting and a gift bag filled with chocolate coins.

Rock Hall, which is listed in the the National Register of Historic Places, offers five luxurious guests suites featuring fireplaces, Wi-Fi, imported linens, down bedding, and flat screen TVs. The property also features screening, fitness billiard and game rooms, as well as marked hiking trails.  Local activities include alpine and cross-country skiing, antiquing, music, theatre, dance, film, outlet shopping and more.  On-site massage and private yoga, training and Pilates classes can be arranged with advance notice, as well as a horse-drawn antique carriage or sleigh-ride with door-to-door pick-up and drop-off.

Addison Mizner built Rock Hall, a 10,000 square foot manor house, in 1912 for Jerome Alexandre, of the Alexandre Steam Ship Lines fortune. The property’s grounds are attributed to a collaboration between the firm of Olmsted and Olmsted and Mizner with an impressive variety of specimen trees, perennial gardens and a wildflower meadow. This historic gem has been meticulously restored and is now one of the areas most luxurious and romantic lodging options, featuring in-season use of a 75’ heated outdoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi, and a synthetic grass tennis court with ball machine.

The Pre-Holiday package starts at $550 per room per night midweek (for two guests) and includes the coupon book, tree and massage for each guest.  Cost for the Mizner Suite and Penthouse Suite is $625 per room per night.  Each weekend night cost is an additional $25 per room per night.  Additional guests may stay in the room (without complimentary massage or soak) for $75 per person.  All guests must be over age 12.

Rock Hall is located two hours north of Manhattan in the northwest corner of Litchfield County, Connecticut in the Litchfield Hills and Southern Berkshires.  It is 30 miles west of Hartford (location of the Mark Twain House, Wadsworth Atheneum and The Bushnell), 30 miles from Lenox, Massachusetts (location of the Tanglewood Music Festival), 35 miles from Becket, Massachusetts (location of the Jacob’s Pillow Festival) 14 miles from Torrington, Connecticut (location of The Warner Theater), 19 miles from Lakeville, Connecticut (location of Lime Rock Park and the Skip Barber Racing School), 3.5 miles from Norfolk, Connecticut (location of  the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and Infinity Hall) and 25 miles from the Lee, MA Premium Outlets.

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