The little town of Bethlehem, Connecticut has earned local notoriety as “Christmas Town”. With a name like Bethlehem, it would be a shame if the town did not go all out on its Christmas tree lighting celebration. Luckily for us, Bethlehem does not disappoint in this regard. The center of town closes to traffic one weekend per year in early December to celebrate the holiday season with food, music, crafts, horse-drawn carriages, and even a 5k run.
The annual festival took place on Friday, December 6th, and Saturday, December 7th this year. Guests were delighted to walk down the festively decorated main street and enter each building in the town’s center to find the special surprises each had inside.
The library hosted a book and cookie sale as well as photos with Santa. Christ Episcopal Church hosted bell concerts. The town hall, memorial hall, and firehouse offered vendors of crafts and food. Food trucks were also available during the festival, including Szabo’s Seafood of Shelton serving made to order fresh fried shrimp and fish or new England clam chowder, and Pork N’ More of Woodbury offering slow-cooked pork loin sandwiches and half loins to go. Roasted Chestnuts, baked goods and confections, and kettle corn were also available.
Each year a collectible Christmas Town pewter ornament is available for sale at the town hall during the festival. Another highlight of the festival is getting your Christmas cards and gifts stamped and sent from the Bethlehem post office, which offered extended hours for the festival.
Face painting, kids crafts, and hayrides were available for the little ones. Musical performances vary year to year. This year Bethlehem enjoyed performances by accordionist Jared Soltis, guitar and vocals by Brody and Ashley, and guitar performances by Henry Church. Gus’ Gang fife and drum band played holiday favorites Friday night for the opening ceremony and a choral performance by the Region 14 Elementary School Chorus. Saturday the “Santa Made Me Do It” 5k Run and 2k Walk began at 9:30 and 10 am.