By Dani Frank
A string of colorful, tiny lights illuminating a winter night is a sign that the holidays are around the corner. If you are anything like my family, you may even tour the community looking for the most fun, festively-decorated abode, known fondly to us as a “ho ho house.” If not, this is your year to start a new holiday tradition with your brood, one that is both leisurely and low cost. Embark on a driving tour of Connecticut’s Festival of Lights events. Get your wheels in gear and view miles of beautiful holiday light displays, from Hartford to Mystic. Here are a few of my faves.
Olde Mistick Village’s Festival of Lights: December 10
Olde Mistick Village
27 Coogan Boulevard
Mystic, CT 06355
Hours: Daily 5 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
The city’s famed aquarium and adjacent, early American-styled village join forces to light up the night with an array of luminaria, for the annual Olde Mistick Village’s Festival of Lights. The free event boasts 40 lit up buildings, as well as 3,000 to 3,500 lighted displays for your viewing pleasure. The village is bursting with sights and sounds, from a ragtime band in the village’s meeting house to comedy jugglers to a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus, the Olde Mistick Village boasts fun for all visitors. The Mystic Aquarium is also bedecked in lights, with extended hours and discounted admission with the donation of a canned good. Visit Mystic’s annual festival and celebrate over 20 years of holiday fun.
Hartford Festival of Lights: November 26 to January 6
Hartford, CT 06123
Hours: Mon to Thurs 11 a.m.- 8 p.m.; Fri, Sat 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and 7 p.m.-9 p.m.; Sun 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
The annual Hartford event is more than just two months of an array of dazzling lights illuminating Bushnell Park. Enjoy a peaceful nighttime jaunt on the ice, with complimentary skate sessions and free rentals until January 6 at the park’s lighted skating rink. Visit on December 3, 10 or 17 and you can warm up with some hot chocolate after landing some twirls and triple axels. For youngsters who may not be ready to lace into skates, Bushnell Park’s colorful carnival is waiting for you to take a seat. Kids of all ages, and kids at heart, can revel in the beauty of Bushnell Park filled with lights.
New Haven Fantasy of Lights: November 18 to January 7
Lighthouse Point Park,
2 Lighthouse Road
New Haven, CT 06512
Hours: Sun to Thurs 5 p.m.-9 p.m.; Fri to Sat 5 p.m.- 10 p.m.
Lighthouse Park comes to life, with the shining beacons of 60+ displays covering the park’s grounds and draping over the New Haven lighthouse, in celebration of the 17th annual New Haven Fantasy of Lights. From November 18 to January 7th, take a drive through the park from Thursday to Sunday and view a mile of displays, covering the 75-foot aforementioned lighthouse and more. New to the event this year you’ll see over 100,000 light bulbs illuminating a nativity scene. Entry fees are $10 per car, $25 per minibus and $50 per bus. Proceeds will benefit the Easter Seals Goodwill and their mission to provide employment and social, educational and recreational fulfillment to people with disabilities.
Dani Frank is a fashion, travel and culture enthusiast and writer living in Easton, Connecticut. A recent graduate of Hofstra University, she is most happy when traversing the East Coast and beyond and documenting it all for curious readers. Read her further work at http://offmanhattan.com/author/danielle-frank/