Ultimate Guide to Winter Festivals and Events in Connecticut

The cold, snowy days of a New England winter will be here before we know it, but there are several things to do this winter to celebrate the season.

Winterfest Hartford

  • When: Nov. 20 to Jan. 24
  • Where: Bushnell Park, Hartford
  • Hours: Skating hours vary Sunday to Saturday; click here for times
  • Admission: Skating, classes, and skate rentals free
  • What It’s About: Free ice skating and skate rentals return to Bushnell Park for another year, as families can enjoy free learn-to-skate classes, photos with Santa, and other special events.

NBC Connecticut and Comcast present: Fantasy of Lights in support of Easter Seals Goodwill

  • When: Nov. 21 to Jan. 6
  • Where: Lighthouse Point Park, 2 Lighthouse Road, New Haven
  • When: Sunday to Thursday, 5 p.m .to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Admission: $10 car, $25 mini bus, $50 full size bus
  • What It’s About: New Haven is celebrating its 21st annual Fantasy of Lights holiday display, to support Easter Seals Goodwill Industries. The drive-through holiday display features more than 60 attractions and over 100,000 lights. Share your experience on social media, with #fantasyoflights!

Holiday Light Fantasia

  • When: Nov. 26 to Jan. 1
  • Where: Goodwin Park, 1130 Maple Avenue, Hartford
  • Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 5-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 5-10 p.m.
  • Admission: $15 car (up to 10 passengers), $25 limousine, $50 mini bus (up to 30 passengers), $100 full size bus (31+ passengers)
  • What It’s About: With over 1 million lights throughout the park, this 2-mile show has transformed Goodwin Park into a holiday destination the whole family for many years.

North Pole Express 

  • When: Nov. 13 to Dec. 29
  • Where: Essex Steam Train, 1 Railroad Ave., Essex
  • Hours: 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
  • Admission: Call (800) 377-3987 for prices
  • What It’s About: Watch a live musical performance of the Night Before Christmas on the train, participate in sing-a-longs and enjoy hot chocolate and sugar cookies on the 90-minute ride.

New Haven Holiday Tree Lighting

  • When: Dec. 1
  • Where: New Haven Green
  • Hours: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., with the NBC Connecticut special at 7 p.m.
  • Admission: Free
  • What It’s About: NBC Connecticut is proud to present our Home for the Holiday special at the New Haven tree lighting! Come join us for one of the biggest holiday events on the shoreline as the tree lighting kicks off the holiday season including live music, carousel rides, holiday crafts, horse drawn carriage rides and so much more! Stop on by and say hi to the NBC Connecticut crew as well!

Holidays on Main

  • When: Dec. 3
  • Where: Main Street, Wethersfield
  • Hours: 5 to 9 p.m.
  • Admission: Skating, rentals, and classes free
  • What It’s About: The Wethersfield Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Wethersfield will hold their annual evening of family activities including visits with Santa, horse & wagon rides, the annual tree-lighting at 6:15 p.m., and a silent auction to benefit local organization

Santa’s Pancake Breakfast

  • When: Dec. 5
  • Where: Pitkin Community Center, 30 Greenfield Street, Wethersfield
  • Hours: 8 a.m. to noon
  • Admission: $6 per person
  • What It’s About: An annual event with all proceeds benefiting the Special Olympics – Wethersfield team, families can come and enjoy a pancake breakfast, visit with Santa, horse-drawn carriage rides, and more.

What is your favorite winter festival or event in Connecticut? Comment below. 

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