Experience the wonder of a 19th century New England Christmas with traditions of the modern era at Old Sturbridge Village outdoor living history museum in Sturbridge, Mass.
First opened in 1946, Old Sturbridge Village celebrates New England life in the years spanning 1790-1840, and it is at its most charming during the Yuletide season. Draped in Christmas ornamentation, this outdoor collection of more than 40 historic buildings is positively Dickensian throughout the month of December during the annual “Christmas by Candlelight” celebration.
Many of the event’s past indoor activities will take place outdoors this year, in keeping with Massachusetts’ health and safety recommendations, adding a winter-time charm to the festivities.
Create magical memories watching crafts-people demonstrate traditional Christmas projects, including sock knitting, wreath making, tin lantern “punching” and natural ornament-making, along with handicrafts such as making ice skates or sleds from scratch. Revel in the holiday cheer while costumed interpreters bustle about making preparations for Christmas dinner, and pause to warm up beside crackling bonfires as you stroll.
Few things are more evocative of the season than the clatter of a horse-drawn wagon offering rides to visitors as it makes its way through the village, while popular favorite, the Christmas Tree Trail, invites visitors to wander past dozens of sparkling, decorated trees in the snow-laden silence of the Countryside area of the village, ending at a magical Christmas Wish Bridge.
Special activities take place on select nights, including Members’ Shopping Nights on Dec. 4-6, while, on Dec. 18-20, the 15,000-brick kiln outside Old Sturbridge Village’s Pottery Shop will fire up, boasting a capacity of 1,000 pieces of pottery stacked 10-feet high within its walls.
And, whether you visit the village or you’re cozied up at home, everyone can take part in the annual Gingerbread House Contest, which is going “virtual” for 2020. Register by Nov. 30 to compete in one of the four categories of non-adult professional, adult professional, youth, or family.
Photos of each gingerbread house entry will be judged in each category to determine the winner and runner-up, while the general public will vote to award the title of “Best in Show House.” Winners will receive a gift certificate to Old Sturbridge Village.
Christmas by Candlelight takes place from 3-8 p.m. on Fridays – Sundays from Dec. 4-20, on Dec. 23, and daily from Dec. 27-30. Concessions will be available and parking is free. In keeping with Massachusetts’ guidelines, face coverings are required for ages 2 and up.
To make this festive event one of your Christmas traditions, purchase date-and-time specific tickets ($22 adults, $11 ages 4-17; member discount $20 adults, $10 ages 4-17) by visiting OSV.org.