It’s time to get that holiday season really rolling and this weekend in the Hartford area, you cannot avoid it. Some of the area’s biggest holiday events are going on, with some extra thrown in for good measure.
Things kick off Thursday with the opening of the Wadsworth Atheneum’s 40th Annual Festival of Trees & Tradition. Begun in 1974, the annual event transform the landmark museum into a holiday wonderland with trees, wreaths and table decorations, all enhanced with daily family programming and more. More than 11,000 visitors are expected at the festival with proceeds benefiting museum programs.
A preview party will be held Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. On Friday ”The Night of Illumination” festivities will be held featuring refreshments, performances and a light display. Information: 860-838-4100 or thewadsworth.org
Also on Thursday, Foxwoods Resort Casino will kick off the holiday season with the opening of its Winter Skating Rink & Patio. Former Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan will christen the rink with a special performance and then join Boston hockey legend Terry O’Reilly for a meet and greet autograph session.
The opening festivities will also include VIP reception featuring hors d’oeuvres, a ribbon cutting and official tree and rink lighting. Members of the local Mystic Ballet Company will perform and award-wining ice sculptor Gregory Shimoda from the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort will carve a winter masterpiece to fit the winter wonderland. Information:foxwoods.com
If you are looking for an eyeful of decorations visit Governor and Mrs. Dannel Malloy’s Prospect Avenue governor’s residence Friday through Sunday for their annual Holiday Open House. The residence has been decorated with four trees and over-the-top trimmings and gingerbread houses (like the one above from Max Downtown pastry chef Warren Hardman) on mantels and tabletops, all for public viewing Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Visitors are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to be donated to the Toys For Tots holiday gift-giving program. Information: 860-524-7355 or ct.gov
Friday begins with a Girl Scout breakfast at The Hartford Club. ”The Breakfast Badge” awards program will honor Teresa Younger, executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women and past girl scout board president. Breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m. Information: 860-522-0163 or gsofct.org
Also on Friday, you can head over to the Connecticut Convention Center for the Greater Hartford Women Against MS Luncheon. Guest speaker at the event that includes shopping, a luncheon will be motivational speaker Larissa Nusser. Information: 860.913.2550 or nationalmssociety.org
The Children’s Law Center of Connecticut will hold its “Imagine…Growing Our Garden” fundraiser at The Hartford Golf Club Friday. The 20th anniversary gala celebrations includes cocktails, dinner and auctions. Information:ctcct.org or 860-232-9993
Looking for some on-stage inspiration when it comes to Christmas? Take your pick. Hartford Stage is featuring its annual production of “A Christmas Carol” (hartfordstage.org) through Dec. 28 (while over at Theaterworks, catch the off-beat “Christmas on the Rocks” (theaterworkshartford.org) through Dec. 22. And at the Bushnell Saturday, The Hartford Symphony Orchestra along with The Hartford Chorale and special guest soloists will perform “Handel’s Messiah.” Information: hartfordsymphony.org
Also on Saturday , grab the kids and head over to Max Downtown from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for its annual ”Teddy Bear Tea.” The event includes light treats, a signature Max bear, a photo and some family fun. Guests 13 and under are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy to be donated to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Information: 860-522-2530 or maxrestaurantgroup.com
Wait, there is still more!
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit several distinctive Hartford and West Hartford homes all decked out for the holidays as part of the Mark Twain House & Museum’s 33rd Annual Holiday House Tour on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Among the six homes that are featured on the tour are the former Katharine Hepburn residence in West Hartford, The Isham-Terry house in Hartford and of course, The Mark Twain House in Hartford.
As an added bonus, author Carlo Devito, who wrote a new book called “A Mark Twain Christmas” will be at the MTH to autograph copies. Information: 860-280-3130 or marktwainhouse.org.
If you or your kids are fans of those little plastic blocks, plan to be happily overwhelmed with master builder creations and more. There is limited ticket availability for the show that runs Friday through Sunday. Information: legokidsfest.com