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Thel Stamford Downtown Parade Spectacular in downtown Stamford.

Thanksgiving Traditions

Celebrate the holiday season by exploring our Colonial history, or enjoy some more modern traditions.

The Indian Rock Nature Preserve in Bristol will offer up its annual Colonial Dinner Program on Nov. 3 from 4-9 p.m. Visitors will enjoy an authentic Colonial-style Thanksgiving turkey dinner and experience period re-enactments, storytelling, music and more. Tickets ($100) cover food, drink and entertainment; proceeds help fund educational programs at Indian Rock. (860-583-1234)

If you’re more interested in the cooking than the eating, you can pick up some tips on Nov. 10 from 1-4 p.m. at New London’s Hempsted Houses. At the Hempsted Thanksgiving there will be opportunities to watch demonstrations and ask questions about Colonial cooking and cider-making. Admission is free, and light refreshments will be available. (860-443-7949)

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The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum will host an authentic 18th-Century Thanksgiving Dinner on Nov. 11.

On Nov. 11 the Webb-Deane Stevens Museum in Wethersfield will host an authentic 18th-Century Thanksgiving Dinner from noon-3 p.m. J. Restaurant and Bar will prepare the traditional New England Feast, including chine of roast pork, pottage of cabbage, leeks and onions and Indian pudding. Reservations required; tickets are $110-$125. (860-529-0612, ext. 12)

A signature event and the biggest and best helium balloon parade this side of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Stamford Downtown Parade Spectacular steps off at noon on Nov. 18. Everyone’s favorite balloon characters, as well as spectacular marching bands, mark the state’s unofficial kickoff for the holiday season.

In Manchester they celebrate Thanksgiving Day by taking a 5-mile run with a few thousand friends. On Nov. 22, up to 15,000 people will take part in the 82nd Manchester Road Race, the largest road race in the state, drawing enthusiasts ranging from walkers to Olympic-level athletes. The fee is $32 (register by Nov. 4 and it’s $27); participants must register in advance, either online before Nov. 15, or in person at Sports Expo on Nov. 17. The race always starts promptly at 10 a.m. A week before the main race, on Nov. 17, the Little Manchester Road Race for kids 12 and under will take place at 10 a.m. at the Bennet Academy soccer field; admission is two non-perishable food items.

On Nov. 23 at Harvesting History at the Henry Whitfield State Museum in Guilford, you can sample English and Native American foods from the 17th century. This year’s event offers a quill-writing lesson, a “Holidaze” display exploring Thanksgiving traditions and hourly readings of the storybook Pilgrim Cat. All activities are included with general admission to the museum; $6 for adults, under 12 free. (203-453-2457)

Christmas Comes Early

Next month we’ll have an overview of Christmas and holiday events in December. But if you just can’t wait to start the festivities, here are a few early events to help you get into the seasonal groove.

Family Theater

Buddy the Elf journeys from the North Pole to New York to find his true family in Elf Jr., part of the Young Actors Series at the Warner Theatre in Torrington, on Nov. 17-18. Shows are at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; tickets are $15.50 each. (860-489-7180)

Charlie Brown, Lucy and the rest of the gang learn the true meaning of Christmas when A Charlie Brown Christmas: Live on Stage comes to New Haven’s Shubert Theatre on Nov. 23. Recommended for ages 4 and over, the show runs 80 minutes and will be presented at 1, 4 and 7 p.m.; tickets start at $25. (203-562-5666)

Holiday Music

Dancing With the Stars champions Tony Dovolani and Karina Smirnoff will headline Dance to the Holidays at the Ridgefield Playhouse Nov. 18. They will be joined by some of your favorite dancers from Stars, as well as American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. Shows are at 4 and 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $75. Also at Ridgefield on Nov. 30, celebrate the season with a rock ’n’ roll legend at Ronnie Spector’s Best Christmas Party Ever! Tickets are $49.50. (203-348-5795)

Swing into the season when the Brian Setzer Orchestra’s Christmas Rocks! Tour comes to Foxwoods Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25-$45. (800-369-9663)

Classic Christmas

Travel back to Victorian England as the Valley Shakespeare Company conducts a live staged reading of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at Seymour’s Strand Theater Nov. 24, 7-9 p.m.; tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. (203-513-9446)

Guilford’s Henry Whitfield House hosts its annual Firelight Festival Nov. 30 from 4-8 p.m. Sit by the fire with roasted marshmallows and hot cocoa or cider while listening to a reading of The Night Before Christmas. You can also tour the museum and learn about the origins of Christmas traditions. (203-453-2457)

Yuletide Festivals

The town of Putnam ushers in the season when Santa Comes to Town (along with Mrs. Claus) to greet the children on Nov. 23 from 4:30-6 p.m.; that’s followed by the annual Holiday Dazzle Light Parade Nov. 25 from 5-8 p.m.

Ol’ Saint Nick will also swing by Bethel on the 23rd courtesy of the town’s fire department for the annual Winter Fest. Taking place at P.T. Barnum Square from 1-6 p.m., it also features a tree lighting, live music, complimentary soup from local restaurants and much more. (203-743-6500)

The town of Simsbury’s annual Simsbury Celebrates festival on Nov. 24 is a community festival with plenty of family-friendly entertainment and activities, including a parade, a visit from Santa and a fireworks show. 5-8:30 p.m.; free admission.


This article appeared in the November 2018 issue of Connecticut Magazine.You can can subscribe here, or find the current issue on sale here.